When Tehani from Fablecroft Publishing approached me for a provocative story for her In Your Face anthology I immediately knew what I wanted to write. But oddly enough that wasn’t the story I ended up writing. My original idea was a story I’d wanted to write for a while. It dealt with racism and class in Australia, it explored the divide between the city and the bush, and it’s still a story I want to write and do justice to.
But then I listened to the radio in the car on the way home from a trip to Canberra, and everything changed. It was a devastating interview with a woman who had lost her son to suicide. Her story and the way she told it was absolutely heartbreaking and made it a difficult to drive — tearing up at 110k/hr might be considered a little unsafe. But it also summoned memories of my own teenage years.
I remember a time in my life when self-harm and suicide were…present. Not, thankfully, in a tragic way. Rather, they were I guess what you would call tools. They were discussed, openly and in whispers, and used to bully with, or worn as a badge of honour, or a way of identifying with others. I guess you could say they were a way to assert control at a time when you have little control over your life and body.
When I was a teenager the world wasn’t as connected as it is now. I can’t help but wonder what that would have been like in a world of smart phones, and the ever-presence and pressure of social media in all its forms. I am also keenly aware that we were for the most part white, middle class girls attending a private high school, with all the privileges that brings with it.
So this is what my story in In Your Face explores. ‘A pain that must be suffered’ is about young people, self-harm and suicide in a highly connected world, about entrenched bullying you just can’t escape from, and the difference class makes to all of this.
Fablecroft are running a crowdfunding campaign for the book here.
And if you want to read more about the stories in this amazing looking anthology, check out the blog tour here.