Author August: Louise Gornall – Own Voices

Author August- Louise Gornall - Own Voices

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

Hi guys! It’s such an honour to be a part of Author August. Massive thanks to Emma for having me over.

So then, I wanted to have a chat with you guys about boundaries…

Louise Gornall
I was lucky enough to be a guest host during a Twitter chat with SundayYA at the beginning of July. The chat was on Own Voices. For those who don’t know, Own Voices is a movement within the We Need Diverse Books community, that publicises diverse books written by authors who are themselves diverse. I think I made that way more complicated than it needed to be. Basically, in the case of Under Rose-Tainted Skies, Norah’s mental health conditions are very much based on my own mental health conditions, which makes it an Own Voices book.

Throughout the chat there were questions. And one question in particular that seemed to keep resurfacing was how much you, as the marginalised author, should say/how honest you should be in your book. I’ve actually been asked this a few times pre the chat too, and my honest answer is, whatever you, as the marginalised author, feel comfortable writing.

Now, I’m aware that this is not a popular opinion. And I will say that this is solidly based on what it was like, and how it felt, to write down my own experiences with mental health. Rose was tough. I lost sleep, lost weight, lost tears…and still there are parts of my mental health conditions that I excluded from the book. I’m not ready to face those excluded things just yet. I’m still learning. Still trying to figure out how to accept criticism. Still understanding the importance of different opinions. But above all, I’m still trying to get comfortable with a billion different parts of me.

I’m not saying my way is right. But I’m not saying it’s wrong either.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies Covers

I can completely understand dialogue that argues we need to push past our limits to paint the brutal reality. That depicting the harshest reality is for the greater good. That your story is about more than a single person’s struggle. I think all that is true. For me, personally, it came down to self preservation. See, as the author, you will be the one that has to drag through your worst experiences and then transfer them to a page. Then it’s you who will have to revise the project multiple times to edit it. You are the one who has to justify why this line is here, or what that paragraph means. And then you, as the author, have to put that book out there, indefinitely, knowing your name is on the cover, knowing family and friends will read it, knowing strangers can and will criticise it.

This is why I think it has to be about your own personal limits. Being brave doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your sanity. Helping your cause doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice yourself. All of the Own Voices topics are tough. Heartbreaking. Soul destroying. And I believe taking care of your own heart is paramount when it comes recalling experiences and feelings that have affected you.

My personal thanks to Louise for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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1 Comment

  1. I think sharing even a glimpse of yourself in your writing is already tremendously brave as you’re sharing it with complete strangers, not knowing what their reaction would be.

    Thanks for sharing, I loved URTS and really respect Louise’s voice.

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