The When Life Was Still trilogy is now available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com!
I’m tempted to say “Let the journey begin” because it will be a journey for those of you who choose to read the three books of this family saga. You will travel through historical times and the highs and lows found in the lives of Ellen, Greta, and Amy. Your mind will be taken to places you might not have imagined. But for me this moment also marks where a special journey comes to an end. Through the process of really getting to know my characters over the past five years, I’ve come to love Ellen, Greta, and Amy almost as much as I love my own children. Today I feel the way I did when I saw my kids board the bus for their first day of kindergarten. I had no idea who would interact with them once I released them into the world. And I didn’t know if they would be met with kind words or be ridiculed by bullies. It was my concern that my children would be changed by experiences that were beyond my control.
My desire to protect my characters and keep them in my safe possession is great; but my desire to have my characters positively affect the lives of my readers is even greater. So, despite my desire to forever shelter them, I have officially released Ellen, Greta, and Amy with the hope that they find a welcoming home in the hearts of others.
Fortunately, Ellen, Greta, and Amy can’t be changed by the outside world in the way that my children were when they started school. The When Life Was Still e-books are read-only documents, and the only way to change the paperbacks would be to use a pen or other writing utensil to write different words on top of mine—which actually would be fine with me if you don’t like what I’ve written. And if you don’t like the occasional swear word, feel free to use Wite Out and write “poop” and “fudge” on the white spots with a Sharpie marker if that makes you feel better. And you can also use Wite Out and a Sharpie to turn my ghosts into “air currents” and the occasional demon into a “kitten” if that makes you feel less afraid of whatever might be lurking in the pages of these magically realistic stories.
While these books are intended to be entertaining, you might need a lot of Wite Out on hand—or a bucket of white paint—if you desire a literary journey that is only a joy ride. When Life Was Still was written with suffering people in mind. And the trilogy is an acknowledgement of how long the days can feel and how far away a destination can seem to those who are marginalized and presented with constant barriers. But the books could simply be regarded as satire for those of you who are lucky enough not to know what it feels like to struggle to survive or experience deep pain. If you haven’t struggled or felt considerable pain, you might be an android—which is okay, and you’re welcome to read these stories too. I intentionally wrote these books with multiple layers of references to history and society that can be experienced according to the knowledge that each reader brings to the story. This will inevitably result in varied reactions to Ellen, Greta, and Amy, in the same way that we all have differing opinions of people in real life.
I know that there will also be a variety of reactions to the heavy subject matter I’ve woven into my stories. And that’s all right. I know plenty of people who prefer a sanitized version of real life instead of the reality that I see every day through my satirical lens. Every person has the right to pursue their ideal existence and shouldn’t feel obligated to subject themselves to the gritty topics I use to add texture to my pages. Those who prefer not to think about sexism, racism, abuse, alcoholism, ghosts, demons, mental illness, suicide, other causes of death, and the shitty things people with power sometimes do (and occasional swearing) should not read my books.
I write about the things I do because I believe that the most beautiful moments in life occur during the act of coming out of the darkness. It is difficult to recognize light without a dark backdrop. Even though contrast is a beautiful thing, I do not believe that life is black and white; it is filled with wonderful shades of gray. It is my goal as a writer to highlight the gorgeous gray areas found in this world and let readers make of it what they will. I’m fine with you either loving or hating my writing—or feeling both emotions at the same time because that would be a super gray thing to do.
Even though I labored over the When Life Was Still trilogy for five years, I did not write it to become rich, famous, or to earn anyone’s approval. I wrote it because it was begging to be written. My idea of success for this project is that, through reading the stories of Ellen, Greta, and Amy, at least one person feels less isolated and less afraid of the dark spaces they have inhabited. Whoever you are, one person, this trilogy was written for you.
Thanks so much to those of you who have been curious enough to check out what my trilogy is about and for your interest in what I have to say on this website. As my words enter your mind, the door to my voice is opened, and I feel heard. I am grateful to you for giving me that gift. If you choose to read When Life Was Still, I hope the trilogy makes you cry, smile, hurt, heal, think, and feel motivated to move your corner of the world in a beautiful direction.
© 2020 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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