For someone who hated “The Scarlet Letter” in both high school and college and has an issue with creative writing professors, Julie Halse Anderson, best-selling author of “Speak”and her newly released book “Wintergirls,” continues her writing career with another fiction masterpiece.
On Saturday, March 20, at the Santa Monica Public Library’s Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, Anderson spoke to fans, friends, and even an English class from a near-by Santa Monica school. She addressed her personal journey from “Speak”to “Wintergirls”and gave background behind the recent novel.
“This was emotionally the hardest book that I’ve written,” Anderson said.
“Wintergirls”follows the life of 18-year-old Lia who faces the recent death of her best friend Cassie and her own on-going struggle against the dangers of both anorexia and cutting.
Growing up self-conscious of her body image, Anderson said she felt very connected to her new character. During the writing process she went so far as to lose weight and count her calories as Lia does.
Anderson completed her three-year project with the support from her husband and the information on anorexia gathered from physicians and nutritionists.
Asked about the motivation behind “Wintergirls,”Anderson said it was to tell a great story.
“I’m not preaching. I’m not trying to convert anybody. I know that if I tell a good story about something that is common, readers are going to identify with it. And so the reader brings his or herself into the page and if I tell a good story, my story is going to serve as a mirror into their own hearts or as a window into the hearts and conditions of others,” she said.
Fans of Anderson’s novel “Speak”will recognize Anderson’s unique prose and use of varying fonts in “Wintergirls,”but in a darker setting where the ultimate challenge is fighting death.