Earlier today, I was lucky enough to celebrate the launch of A Berlin Story by Tiffani Burnett-Velez (who assisted me with the Russian dialogue in Paper Souls) by answering some of her questions about Paper Souls. I’ve also read the novella, which is beautifully written. You can read my five-star review of it on GU next week.
Below is a transcript of the interview. Enjoy.
TBV: Because she’s so pretty, I had to post a picture of our next author, Allie Burke. Everyone, welcome Allie!
AB: Hi everyone! It’s so wonderful to get to chat with you for a little while. Thank you so much for having me, Tiffani!
TBV: Thank you for taking the time to share your work with us, Allie. Allie, before we talk about anything of consequence, I have to ask you, who the heck was your photographer, because these are awesome pictures.
AB: Ha! He is John at JDS Productions – he is a fashion photographer. He has done two shoots for me and always makes me look amazing. It helps to have a makeup artist for a best friend.
TBV: That would help, but I can’t see how you’d need it. Allie, what made you want to write about schizophrenia?
AB: I was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 2011. After I began to heal, I became enamored with telling a realistic story of a ‘normal’ person affected by such an illness because I wanted to create awareness for an illness so rarely understood.
TBV: And that’s why it works so well. Was it hard to write about schizophrenia, essentially, from the inside out?
AB: It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Much harder than the illness itself. There are actually photos of me somewhere, in front of my computer, crying. I didn’t write for months after it was finished.
TBV: Wow. I have an autoimmune disease that has been devastating, and nearly killed me twice, and people tell me I should write about it, but I think that might the hardest thing I could do. When you were posting comments on Facebook about having written it, I remember thinking, I have to read this! Who writes about schizophrenia like this? It’s such a brave thing to do, because schizophrenia is not well understood in America. Do you agree with that last statement?
AB: It’s not well understood anywhere, so yes. The trouble in America is that no focus or care is put into treating any mental illness. It is swept under the rug. It’s why I’m so open with it on Social Media. If no one knows, then no one can do anything about it.
TBV: There is schizophrenia in my family, too, and and the one thing that always surprises me, is how it has gained this false reputation of being a violent sort of illness. Most schizophrenics are not remotely violent. Do you address this in Paper Souls?
AB: I do, yes. But it is addressed in a very literary way. A read between the lines, if you will. Which is something you have to do with schizophrenia to understand it. Read between the lines.
Thanks again to Tiffani for having me today. You can visit Tiffani on her blog.