Sticks, waves, bones.
Two years ago I cracked my left wrist. I wore a cast for six weeks and when it came off my hand was strange and alien, no longer the twin of the other. It took another month for my wrist to feel strong again. Sometimes even now it twinges. I still have some trouble opening jars.
Six years ago I snapped two toes on my right foot. I strapped them up and went right on dancing. They set badly; they broke again six months later. Now when it’s cold they still hurt sometimes. I feel them tender when I try on new shoes.
When I was nineteen I broke my nose. It bruised and bled, then faded and healed. It never once hurt again but since then my face is slightly different. A small sharp bump where there once were smooth lines.
When I was seventeen I fractured my right ankle. I wore a cast for two months and when it came off I couldn’t walk for weeks. After thirteen years it never twinges, but sometimes when it rains I can feel the ghost of the crack still there under the skin.
Things that snap:
String, buttons, twigs.
The spines of books.
My first novel, The Accident Season, is about a family that falls victim to inexplicable injuries for one month of every year. It’s about the accidents that happen – the split skin, the blooming bruises, the broken bones – and it’s about the tightly-kept secrets that lie behind them.
I write about slips and falls and tumbles, about ripped skin and broken bones because I’m interested in bodies – in their beauty, in their desires, in their frailty. I write about survival and trauma because I’m interested in hearts and how they heal.
The characters in The Accident Season are healing from scars and grazes, from cuts and bruises, from the secrets they keep and from the memories they stumble running away from. It’s all mixed in together: bodies and minds and hearts, survival and trauma and broken bones.
Things that tear:
Fabric, paper, fistfuls of hair.
Every tiny crack in the world where the light shines in.
I like to think of books as points of recognition. My favourite novels are all cracked spines and creased paper, dog-eared seams and lines underscored in scarring ink. I’ve learnt a lot from fiction: how to write, how to love, how to heal.
It seems like every second week somebody writes something about how unsuitable young adult fiction is for the people who read it. As if a book can be a bad influence, as if a teenager can’t think for herself, as if everybody doesn’t take something different out of each book they read and apply it to their own life. And it’s true that books can lead, sure, but they can also follow (in your bag, in your locker, in your pocket, in your phone). Each book becomes what you want it to be. Books can break – their spines can crack and their pages can tear and they can rip your heart in pieces but look, here’s my last list:
Things that heal:
Bruises, trust, scar tissue.
Little dents and big breaks.
Check out Moira’s Twitter @moirawithatrema