The Shattering American Cover

Anxiety, Keri, and Me

So my friend John runs this thing where he invites people to talk about the Big Idea that lies behind their novel.


I talk about my anxiety disorder, and The Shattering, and where Keri came from without me realising it.

But of course Keri wasn’t really like me. She was a biracial teenager from a low-income family who wasn’t afraid of physical violence and loved sports. I was a white woman in my late twenties who shied away from physical confrontation and thought that sports were doubtless very nice for those who enjoyed them. I had far more in common with the other two narrators; smart, book-loving Sione and showy, confident Janna.

Months later, well after I’d completed the first drafts, I ended up in a counsellor’s office. I’d spent weeks unable to sleep properly. I was afraid of everything: afraid of flying; afraid that my friends and family would die; afraid that I would be kicked out of university for being stupid; afraid that my first book was incredibly racist and would hurt people; afraid of earthquakes and fires and floods; afraid that every choice I had made to bring me to this point was wrong.

Twisting my hands together, I confessed to a nice woman that I thought I might have generalized anxiety disorder. (I’d looked it up beforehand. It’s important to be prepared!)

She agreed, gently, that I might.

Unlike anyone who’d spent much time around me prior to that point, I was genuinely shocked.

If you have comments, and want to make them over there, that would be great.

If you want to make them here, also fine!