by Abria Mattina
Published September 22nd 2011
Eighteen isn’t too young to run your life into the ground, but it’s not too old to fix it, either. The desire for change drives Willa Kirk from St. John’s, Newfoundland back to her hometown of Smiths Falls, Ontario, away from her mistakes and the place where her sister died. She’s looking for a place to settle and rebuild, but Jem Harper just wants to get out of town, back to the life he knew before cancer. By letting the tragedies in their lives define them, they are both dying a little more every day. Welcome to the wake.
Guest Post: Abria Mattina
Author of WAKEWhy This Book? Frankly, I get bored writing about anything other than pain. I know that doesn't paint a very flattering picture of me, but it's true. I'm deeply interested in that aspect of the human experience. It's what made me choose to study psychology, though I eventually changed my major.
In our culture, one of the most painful and universal events in life is a death, whether it's the death of a loved one or the threat of one's own demise. It's a subject I knew readers would relate to in some way. Add to that the anguish of adolescence, and you've got a cocktail of relatable human pain.
That's not to say that Wake is a depressing book from cover-to-cover. Rather, it seeks to make the ugly moments in life less awful by confronting them directly. Good things do come out of bad experiences.
My path to inspiration for Wake was a long one. Years ago, a woman that I travelled with who was sick at the time, passed away about a year after we returned to Canada. She had a very rare form of cancer and had undergone a long period of treatment before she died at a young age. Her death really weighed on me, and one month later my great-grandmother passed away. These were radically different deaths—one woman at seventeen, one at ninety-seven; one very sick, and one who had enjoyed many years of health; one who was struggling to live and one who was expecting to die. I felt different about each of the deaths. One was a tragedy in my mind, and the other was a natural release.
That year, a lot of my creative writing focused on death. I even took a course in the psychology of death and dying, taught by a retired nurse. I began to consider the culture and attitudes that surround death. In the West we seem to fear it, think we've conquered it, or regard it as the worst possible human failure. I became motivated to think of death as a natural occurrence, and sought to explore attitudes toward death and dying in my writing.
It's garnered some strange and strong reactions. I expected people to react strongly to the subject of assisted suicide in Wake, and was surprised when, instead, readers responded to the brief discussions about cremation and embalming. I received one very angry email from a reader saying that she didn't need to know what the morticians had done to her mother's body before visitation and burial. I consider that a mark of our culture—we hide death behind a curtain, hand our loved ones' bodies and thousands of dollars over to strangers, just so that we don't have to deal with it and face the reality of our human condition.
If you are interested in learning more about death and what happens to bodies, give Stiff by Mary Roach a try. It's a science book for people who don't like science.
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Abria Mattina's links
Follow the rest of the WAKE tour!
12/1 review @ Maria's Handmade Love
12/2 review @ Books Glorious Books
12/4 review @ Nightly Reading
12/5 review @ Aobibliosphere
12/6 guest post @ Kickin Back with Kiwi
12/7 guest post @ Aobibliosphere
12/9 review @ The Phantom Paragrapher
12/10 guest post @ Maria's Handmade Love
12/10 review @ All things books
12/10 review @ The Book Diva's Reads
12/11 review @ Just Another Book Addict
12/12 guest post @ Books Glorious Books
12/12 guest post @ Just Another Book Addict
12/13 review @ Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders
12/14 review @ Owl Tell You About It
12/15 guest post @ Owl Tell You About It
12/16 review @ Celtic Lady's Reviews
12/17 guest post @ The Book Diva's Reads
12/18 guest post @ The Phantom Paragrapher
12/19 guest post @ Nightly Reading
12/20 guest post @ Keeping Up With The Rheinlanders
12/21 review @ Kickin Back With Kiwi
12/22 guest post @ All things books
12/23 guest post @ Just One More Paragraph
12/30 guest post @ Celtic Lady's Reviews