I have obstacles to overcome. Just like you, just like everyone.
Author E.M. Fitch
One of my obstacles has a name, though as a teen, I didn’t realize it. I have panic attacks. The reason I’m telling you this is because it’s real. I am a real person and I have panic attacks.
My protagonist in Of The Trees, my forthcoming YA novel, has them, too. That’s important. It’s important because every day millions of people have panic attacks. Millions will also suffer anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia, and depression. As an author, it’s important to me to show this. I want my characters to jump off the page. I want them to be authentic. Giving my characters actual issues, mixed in with the fairy lore, fantasy and horror, will ground them and give them a way to connect with an audience.
There’s a better reason to create characters with mental health issues, however. It’s more important than creating a way for the characters to relate to the readers. It’s giving your readers a chance to connect with someone. One of the worst experiences someone can have is feeling alone. One of the hardest parts of managing an invisible illness is feeling like no one understands what you’re going through. I feel like I’m on the other side of what once was an invisible illness for me. Anxiety creeps into my life in variable doses, but overall, it’s manageable. So my characters are my way of extending a hand. It’s a nod that tells my readers: I see you. I’ve been there, too.
Horror is real. Anxiety, depression, hallucinations, fear – that’s all real, too. But so is growth. There’s is such a thing as learning to overcome – and I don’t mean learning to erase all impact of the invisible illness from your life. I mean a way to manage and cope and breathe and live in spite of, or even because of, whatever’s weighing you down.
So, authors: show this. Be real. Tell your tragedies, show your weaknesses, bleed on your pages. Not only will your characters breathe because of it, your readers might find themselves not so alone after experiencing your own wounds lay bare in print.
Only she can hear the deadly whisper of the trees.
High school seniors, Cassie and Laney, spend their days on ghost hunts, Laney trying to pull Cassie into belief. Cassie tolerates it for her best friend, but she doesn’t really believe … until the carnival comes to town. The men who work there watch the girls, disturbing Cassie with the intensity of their collective gaze.
It’s not just their age or the unnerving way they stare. There is something else, something in the shifting of their skin, the way their features seem to change fluid in the shadows, that screams danger. Cassie tries to ignore the uneasy feeling that something bad is about to happen, convinced that once the carnival leaves, life will return to normal.
But it doesn’t.
People start dying and bloody warnings appear around town. Cassie enters into a nightmare where the trees whisper “join us” and strange, seemingly familiar, shape-shifting men haunt the backwoods of her small, isolated town.
When Laney goes missing, Cassie knows it’s the men of the forest who have taken her. She knows that she’s the only one who can help bring her friend back. But the creatures that taunt and hiss through the trees aren’t ready to give Laney up just yet.
E. M. Fitch is an author who loves scary stories, chocolate, and tall trees. Her latest novel, OF THE TREES, is a Young Adult horror/fantasy inspired by haunted cemeteries and the darker musings of W.B. Yeats. She is the author of the Young Adult zombie trilogy: THE BREAK FREE SERIES. When not dreaming up new ways to torture characters, she is usually corralling her four children, or thinking of ways to tire them out so she can get an hour of peace at night. She lives in Connecticut, surrounded by chaos, which she manages with her husband, Marc.
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