Published yesterday by Simon & Schuster is a powerful debut novel by T.E. Carter, I Stop Somewhere.
I'm currently reading this book and I have to say it's no easy book. It's harrowing, it's raw, it's real also. This girl's story is from personal experience and it warrants you're full attention.
Today I'm extremely honoured to have T.E. Carter on my blog answering some questions that played on my mind since beginning this book. But before that here is a little bit more on the book.
Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.
Tormented throughout middle school, she begins her freshman year with new clothes, new hair, and a plan: she doesn’t need to be popular, she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.
It’s a lonely existence, but at least no one’s tripping her in the halls. In fact, no one notices her at all. Until Caleb Breward, tells her she’s beautiful and makes her believe it.
Ellie loves Caleb, but sometimes she doesn’t like him that much - his awkward smile, the possessive way he touches her, the tone he uses, how he ignores her one minute and can't get enough the next. And on one black night, she discovers the monster her boyfriend really is. Ellie wasn’t the first victim, but now, trapped, she has to watch it happen again and again. She tries to hold onto her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.
But no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.
The Lovely Bones meets Asking For It - this is the searing, heartbreaking story of a lost teenager, and the town she leaves behind.
Q & A with T.E. Carter
What was the idea behind I Stop Somewhere!?
To be honest, much of it stems from personal experience and the things I’ve spent a lifetime not being able to say. The catalyst for writing it, though, came with yet another girl going missing in a neighboring town. I wish I could say that her story ended differently, but just after I sold the novel, they found her body. It’s now been years and no one was ever held accountable for what happened to her.
Did you feel there was a lot of pressure when writing Ellie’s story, to do her story justice?
From the outside, not really, as I put enough pressure on myself. From a personal perspective, though, yes, it was – and is – an immense amount of pressure. Because it’s so closely tied to my own experiences, I do struggle with putting the story out there in general. I have to admit I feel somewhat uncomfortable about its existence, because it’s like opening a wound I’ve tried for years to keep from reopening.
What was your writing journey like when creating your debut novel?
I get in the zone so much I don’t really remember much about the process itself. I tend to be the kind of writer who writes for hours every day when the story is swirling around in my head, and then I take months off to find the threads of another one.
This is a harrowing story and I felt that I had to read it in my own comfort zone, I.e. in my bed with lots of cups of tea! I’m curious when you were writing this did you find you needed to escape, take a step back from the book?
Because I was so focused on the writing, I didn’t really feel it until after, but after was very hard. It’s still very hard. The process moved quickly. I wrote and rewrote and edited before querying, but once I sent out that first query, I had an agent offer within a few days and a book deal three weeks after my agent submitted the manuscript. As a result, I don’t know that I ever had time to really process what I was doing, and I am still reeling from it. The writing was far easier than the publication. I needed to get these things out of my head, as they’d been stuck in there for so long, and it was cathartic. That said, I’m still not fully sure I wanted them to be out of my head and into the universe, which was something I hadn’t truly considered at the time. Now I feel overwhelmed because I have to go back to those feelings and thoughts when I think about the novel, and I am so closely tied to the story that it’s exceedingly challenging not to find myself in a pretty dark place when I think too much on it.
What would be your advice if girls of Ellie’s age, or anyone going through the topics in your book?
I tried to address this in my author’s note at the end of the novel, but I would say that it’s important to remember that these things don’t define you. The world can be a dark place and it’s excruciating to go through, especially if, like Ellie, you are alone or nearly alone in facing it. However, every single person counts and even if they don’t see it, even if they can’t feel that they matter, they are shaping the world around them every single day by living in it. No one deserves to be put through situations like this, but you will survive it. No matter how much it feels like you may not, and sometimes it may feel like you’d rather not, you will survive. And someday, as you start to find your way again, hopefully you can see that even in the darkest places, there is always light.
Do you have any writing advice for budding authors?
I believe it’s important to stick with it, even when it feels pointless. I would also recommend that if you come to a point where you don’t love it, it’s a good idea to take a break. Most likely, you will rediscover that spark and, if you don’t, maybe that’s okay. Maybe there will be another outlet, but don’t force it. If you don’t enjoy it, give yourself permission to walk away.
What books would you recommend/do you have a current favourite YA read?
I always recommend the books of Gillian Flynn, and I also really love the classics still. They’re definitely not perfect, but in those moments when life becomes tough, there’s comfort into returning to a world and story you’ve visited hundreds of times. I find myself doing that a lot, because books were my best friends growing up and when I feel down or alone, I like remembering those old friends.
Thank you to T.E. Carter for taking the time to answer my questions... If I'm honest it really resonates with the book and just makes how it important it is to tell these stories as well as how brave this woman really is.
About T.E. Carter
I was born in New England and have pretty much lived in New England for my entire life (minus a few years in high school).
Throughout my career, I’ve done a lot of things, although I always loved to read and I still love stories in any medium (books, movies, video games, etc.).
When I’m not writing, I can generally be found reading classic literature, obsessing over Game of Thrones (100% Team Lannister), playing Xbox, organizing my comic collection, or binge-watching baking competitions.
I continue to live in New England with my husband and our two cats.