Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank Stacey Donovan for stopping by today.
Title: Dive: A Novel
Author: Stacey Donovan
Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media
Cover Artist: unknown
Genre: Lesbian Romance, Young Adult
Virginia “V” Dunn is alone when a hit-and-run accident leaves her dog, Lucky, bleeding and helpless. Suddenly, the monotony of her suburban life dissolves: Lucky is in a cast, her best friend is avoiding her, her mother’s drinking is getting worse, and her father is sick with a mysterious illness. Although V is surrounded by family, she is the loneliest girl in town.
In her search for answers to life’s difficult questions—about death, friendship, family and betrayal—V is floundering. Until she meets the captivating Jane.
But her new love also leads to confusion, until V realizes the only way forward is to dive in, even if it means breaking every rule.
Acclaimed author Stacey Donovan’s thought-provoking novel, Dive is filled with the poetry, drama, and beauty of young love, and touches on the importance of finding out who you really are.
On Creating Characters
When I was a teenager, traveling to the faraway places my favorite uncle went was not part of my experience. He sent postcards, always a thrill. From Europe he once wrote: Enjoy everything, even the unpleasant things. I loved him even more for sending such a sophisticated message. It made me feel special and that maybe I could learn special things about life. I must admit that it has been a challenge to enjoy unpleasant things, especially what hurts, or makes no sense, violence toward innocent creatures, wet feet in snow.
I was lucky to have parents who both read a lot of books, to discover the musty classics in the basement: the Greeks, Russians, French, Irish – and more. Upstairs the shelves held the contemporary stuff: espionage, romance, thriller, fantasy, crime, glorious trash fiction, literature whose words reeled through me. The uncle I mentioned, a writer, would send picture books a few times a year.
Those books – realities in my life – led the way to my own character development.
It has been a challenge to think of what is behind character development in fiction, and also about character inspiration, which I believe is different from development. Inspiration in regard to creating characters has come as a result of not only observation (an aspect of development) but as part of my search to understand life, what it is to be alive, and sometimes, to try to enjoy everything, even the unpleasant things.
In Dive, there is protagonist V’s younger sister. Her nickname is Baby Teeth, so named because her deciduous teeth stuck around long past the usual time. My own little sister experienced that, and I called her Baby Teeth for a while. I also rode her home from school on my bicycle handlebars and tried to protect her from some of the unpleasant things that had come my way before she showed up. What Baby Teeth the character does next is not what happened in real life.
As the story unfolds, Baby Teeth’s habit of appearing uninvited at neighbors’ houses escalates. It’s her way of trying to understand what’s happening in her own little world, to observe with surprise someone wearing slippers midday, another’s fondness for baloney sandwiches, to watch a spider intently spreading its web while BT pees in an unfamiliar bathroom. Baby Teeth (at the suggestion of someone else’s mother) would call home to say where she was and V usually traipsed over to collect her. They had many talks about cowbirds, buffaloes, how celery could be so long and was it really a vegetable, what it meant to let the wind in. Underneath Baby Teeth’s questions was her desire to understand more about the living in the world.
That was because her world now teemed with uncertainty. Why was her daddy in the hospital, who ran over their little dog and could just drive away after that, how come her mother sat in the blue chair all night, why did her older brother only grunt instead of talk to anyone these days.
The three siblings wrestled with uncertainty. They did not yet understand that change is the nature of life, that a parent can become fatally ill in an instant, that cruelty races down the road with no warning, that decisions no one anticipates insist to be made.
V’s own challenges develop through the story. Many firsts occur: love, death, betrayal (*no story spoilers here). Amid these experiences, poetry becomes an elemental part of her passion, and learning that life means you can find hope in pain and loss. V grasps onto words as she tries to make sense of life.
I did not write Dive yesterday – it was my first novel. With the opportunity to revisit it again, I realize now how much writing it meant so much to my own development as a person, and that inspiration has arisen out of uncertainty. It’s all about diving into life.
Sometimes the night never ends; it just breaks into light and we pretend. I am alive, though I tend to forget that when I’m pretending, and I’m fifteen. I have sweeping dark hair and hazel eyes that turn green when I cry. Sometimes I rub my hands together, maybe just to see if it’s really me. I wear the glasses I’m supposed to wear when I’m in the mood and when- ever I remember my sunglasses because the day hurts my eyes. Maybe the pretending has torn the edges of who I am, so the result is a frayed and sensitive me.
If the night never ends, who can see? The day boils down to pretending what is and is not there. Because she does not want me to, I do not see the black eye on my mother’s face as the bruise changes, fades a blotchy red to a tattered purple, then spreads to flat green.
Because he assumes nobody does, I do not see the increasingly bloodshot eyes of my brother as he stares past me at dinner. And I do not see the raised eyebrows on Baby Teeth’s face that settle more frequently into surprise as she watches and help-lessly learns this pretending game. I wish I could tell her she doesn’t have to play, though if she’s to survive life in this house, she will.
So I do not notice that on the days that we do not go to the hospital, she spends every afternoon at other people’s houses now. And I especially do not see the absence of my father at dawn when he does not kiss the sleeping Baby Teeth good-bye before he climbs down the stairs in his solid brown shoes and goes to work. And I do not see his absence as I pass his empty chair at night when I walk into the kitchen to feed my dog. The last thing I do not see is my tilting, limping Lucky as he waits by his empty bowl, or the image of the vile green VW that hit him.
So what do I see? That I have learned to pretend so well, I can do it with my eyes open. April has ended, and its cruelty too, I hope, when we weren’t looking, or were busy pretending, or maybe while we slept.
So it’s May. And what does it bring? April showers bring May flowers. Well, really. I try to remember, uncertainly, if there was a lot of rain last month. No. But please flower anyway, all over me. I’ll keep my eyes open. Maybe it won’t happen all at once, the way change seems to. Now that’s something. Change blooms.
About the Author
Stacey Donovan is a critically acclaimed author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young adults. She is the founder of Donovan Edits, and has edited or ghostwritten more than twenty-five books, including three New York Times bestsellers and several nonfiction titles that have become leading works in their respective fields. Donovan lives in New York, where she continues to write and edit.
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Prism Book Alliance
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I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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