Today we're talking with Angela Beach Silverthorne and Tia Silverthorne Bach, the mother and daughter team/authors of Depression Cookies
FQ: Why did you decide to write a book as a mother & daughter writing team?
Tia: We both love writing and thought it would be interesting to tell a coming of age story from a mother and daughter perspective. It made sense to use our mother and daughter voices to accomplish that. Plus, how many people get to flesh out their relationship in such an intimate way? It was a gift to write this with my mom.
Angela: I had just finished writing a book on poetry when Tia approached me about collaborating on a book. At first I thought she was kidding, but when her reaction didn't change, I knew she was dead-on serious. Immediately we began to brainstorm. I was intrigued from the beginning, truly not knowing how it would come together, if ever, but enjoyed the idea of working with my daughter.
FQ: Did each of you assume one role - one writing Abby's part and the other Krista's? or did you both write portions of each character's segments?
Tia: We each strictly wrote ďourĒ part. I wrote Krista, 13, and my mom wrote Abby. We certainly were in constant communication about where the story was heading, etc, but tried to keep the voices authentic and focused for our characters.
Angela: Tia and I fell into our specific roles of mother and a daughter without discussing an option. Oh mercy me, I don't know what I would have done if Tia had looked at me and said, "You write the teen part." Trust me, the project would have died at that moment. I had a hard enough time with Abby's teen flashbacks!
FQ: I'm guessing that the two of you must be very close - how else could you write a book together? Were there any particularly difficult times working as a team on this book? Did some things/topics come much easier than others as you wrote?
Tia: Life kept getting in our way: babies born, moves, health problems, etc. We were respectful of these life events and had to put the book on the back burner from time to time. The mother/daughter banter came easily from our own relationship, but I found it hard to write the babysitter scene and the scenes about Alyssa. I had to remember to be a teenager when the mother in me wanted to come screaming out in Kristaís voice.
Angela: Tia and I have always had a special relationship. I tried to foster a forum of open and honest discussion in our home, which made it easy to write without feeling I had to couch Abby's reaction, thinking Tia might have a negative reaction to it. Like Tia mentioned, the only difficult times in writing the book centered around life getting in the way. The topics I had the hardest time writing were Abby's struggle to answer life's questions and manage its fast balls. Writing the chapters at the end with Nadine and Abby were also difficult.
FQ: Is any part of Depression Cookies autobiographical?
Angela: There are bits and pieces of who I am and what I think in every character. When writing, reality and fiction often merge, expanding the known into blended worlds that defy ownership. It's all about the joy of letting your imagination go wild!
Tia: Krista is my teenage voice. I wanted her to be authentic and brutally honest. But the situations I put her in, although steeped with my own life, were embellished and fictionalized for the story.
FQ: Abby's husband Bob was a difficult person to like. While he occasionally showed some redeeming characteristics (coming to Krista's aid during the babysitting incident) for the most part I wanted to strangle him. What were the reasons for making him such an unlikable character?
Tia: First of all, Krista needed to have a 13 year old perspective, and all too often teenagers see the world as very one-sided (his/her side, of course). But, more importantly, this story is about women and how women do or do not handle life. This isnít Bobís story. Iím sure if he could tell it, the readers would be privy to a vast amount of information left out in the female interpretation.
Angela: Bob and Abby were born in the '50's in the South. In most families, there was a clear demarcation between the sexes. The husband worked and the women cared for the children and everything else. As we moved with my husband's job, I saw other couples from all over the country fall into the same pattern. In writing Bob's character, I truly pictured him working twelve hours a day, thinking he was giving his all to company and family. Like a lot of us, Bob didn't know how to balance life.
FQ: Krista really matures during the span of a few years. Do you think if she hadn't met Alyssa things might have turned out differently?
Tia: Meeting Alyssa and seeing her pain and struggles was incredibly formative for Krista. Alyssa saved Krista from a devastating social time in her life, yet Alyssa was the one who needed saving. What could force maturity quicker than seeing your best friend slowly killing herself? Itís hard to stay a child in the face of such sadness.
FQ: Alyssa's dad, Mr. McConnell, was a domineering presence who frightened just about everybody. And yet Krista stood up to him to help her friend. Was this a turning point in her life?
Tia: The advantage to being a teenager as well as writing as one is the ability to live with blinders on. Krista didnít see it as standing up to him as much as caring for her friend. Itís what we hope all teenagers choose: stand up to the bully. Caring about her friend more than herself was the true turning point, the maturity required to begin the process to adulthood.
FQ: The "incident" with Cindy, in which Abby and Krista have to confront Cindy, Kerry and their moms about Krista's "misbehavior" was a tense time. Was it hard to write?
Tia: I am one of three daughters as well as having three girls of my own. I have already faced mothers of hateful girls from both ends. The hardest part of writing those scenes was to hold back the mother in me from the teenager in my character. Girls can be so cruel and all too often they learn it from the adult women in their lives. Itís a sad commentary. More than anything, it made me sad that times really havenít changed.
Angela: It was extremely hard to visualize, not only the actual confrontation, but the discussions with Bob before the meeting. I was drained after writing them.
FQ: I loved the "aunties." Are they based on a real group of older women you know?
Angela: I wish so much I knew the "aunties," but I don't. What I wanted to create was a mismatched group of women who came together out of pain, disappointment and rejection to form a camaraderie based on genuine acceptance. There is a tremendous power and vitality women can offer women when they allow themselves to drop their competitive nature and truly love one another.