Interviews with writers

How my heart speaks

“Many of the most important turning points in your characters’ lives are centered on trauma and loss. Do you think that the way people process these events is what defines them?

I don’t think people’s processing of trauma and loss necessarily defines them fully, but these surely influence the course of their lives. I was 12 years old when a dam collapsed at the northern end of my hometown, releasing millions of gallons of lake water that cut a path of death and destruction. Among the dead was a 27-year-old mother who drowned in the flood waters after helping rescue her three sons, ages four, two, and six months. I drew on that remembered local tragedy when I wrote We Are Water and, in the course of my research, became friends with those three little boys—who are now well-adjusted, middle-aged family men. Each has a successful career and a…

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