Please join me in welcoming the marvelous Erin Bartels to the blog to share her favorite quotes from The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water!
THE GIRL WHO COULD BREATHE UNDER WATER by Erin Bartels
GENRE: Inspirational Contemporary Fiction
RELEASE DATE: January 4, 2022
The best fiction simply tells the truth.
But the truth is never simple.
When Kendra Brennan moves into her grandfather’s old cabin on Hidden Lake, she has a problem and a plan. The problem? An inflammatory letter from A Very Disappointed Reader that’s keeping her from writing her next novel as long as its claims go unanswered. The plan? To confront Tyler, her childhood best friend’s brother–and the man who inspired the antagonist in her first book–in order to prove to herself that she told the truth as all good novelists should.
What she discovers as she delves into the murky past is not what she expected. Facing Tyler isn’t easy, but facing the truth of her failed friendship with his sister, Cami, may be the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
Award-winning novelist Erin Bartels searches the heart with this lyrical exploration of how a friendship dies, how we can face the unforgiveable, and how even those who have been hurt can learn to love with abandon.
Truth, Lies, and Everything in Between
by Erin Bartels, author of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite quote from my new release, The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water. It’s a book I’ve been “working on” in some way or another for over thirty years—though I didn’t realize it until about the last decade. It’s my baby. I love every page, every word. So how can I play favorites?
Among other things, it’s the story of a writer (not me), a friendship (not one of mine), and an assault (not mine). And yet, this novel is the most personal book I’ve written to date.
In almost any Q&A session I’ve been involved in at bookstore events, library talks, or book clubs, someone will ask if any characters in the novel in question were based on real people. No, I have answered truthfully. But I think I know why they ask. If an author is doing her job well, the story will feel absolutely real, the characters will be so well-rounded and believable that people find it just a little unbelievable that they are completely made up.
But here’s the secret. For a writer, everything in life is material. Everything that has ever happened to me that has made me into the person I am today, who thinks the way I do, who notices the things I do—all of it makes its way into my novels in some form or another.
Which brings me to one of my (many) favorite quotes from The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water:
“Truth has a way of working itself into any story, whether the writer means it to or not.”
So when I wrote a book about sisters on a hike (All That We Carried) it wasn’t based on me and my sister. But I drew upon a lifetime of being a sister in order to create the characters.
And when I wrote about a woman who found solace and friendship in the characters of classic novels (The Words between Us) it wasn’t based on my own reading habits and lack of friends. But I drew upon my experiences as an English major and an introvert in the writing of it.
In the same way, when I wrote about an author who can’t write her next book until she lays to rest the seemingly outrageous claims of an anonymous critic who takes the antagonist’s side in her story (The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water) it’s not based on my experiences as an author.
Yet, in it I draw on my own experiences. I have been the jealous friend. I was sexually harassed and molested as a child. I am and probably always will be a compulsive rock collector.
But it’s not about me and Kendra is not based on me. Thus, another favorite quote:
It was fiction, not memoir. It didn’t have to be true, as long as it was true.
The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water is special to me. Not because it’s my story, but because it’s my story. It’s also your story—if you’ve had a complicated friendship, if you’ve wished to impress a mentor, if you’ve struggled with the meaning of family, if you’ve ever been hard on yourself, if you’ve ever been made to feel like an object, if you’ve struggled to forgive, if you’ve wished you’d done things differently.
That’s the beauty of fiction. It drills down into the wildly specific life of a made-up person with a made-up problem, and in doing so it connects with us at the deepest levels of our own souls. That’s why we read it. That’s why I write it.
That’s why, yeah, this story is based on something that really happened to a real person in real life.
None of it is true. And yet…it’s all true.
Erin Bartels is the award-winning author of All That We Carried, 2020 Christy Award finalist The Words between Us, and We Hope for Better Things, a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, 2020 WFWA Star Award winner, and 2019 Christy Award finalist. A publishing professional for twenty years, she is the current director of WFWA’s annual writers retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son. Find her online at www.erinbartels.com.
Revell is offering a print copy of The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water to TWO of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
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What about you? What makes you want to read The Girl Who Could Breathe Under Water by Erin Bartels?