Red Jacket Books in Westhampton Beach, is hosting a book signing event with author Shay Siegel on Sunday, August 28th from 1 to 3pm. Hamptons.com recently spoke with Shay about her book, Fractured.
Is Fractured your first novel? Can you tell us what the book is about and what inspired you to write it?
Yes, Fractured is my first novel! The book focuses on different issues that teens face today like mental health awareness, toxic masculinity, peer pressure. The narrator is Mason Vance, a sixteen-year-old football player who injures his wrist in the opening pages, and while he is on the path to recovery he is simultaneously put on a journey of self-discovery. Mason is forced to face his past behavior and the person he has been in an uncomfortable way but has the opportunity to improve and decide who he wants to be.
The inspiration for Fractured actually came to me when I broke my own wrist on my 25th birthday (so, oddly, I’m glad that happened!) As I was healing, I started thinking a lot about physical injuries that people can see and how differently they are treated than emotional or psychological “injuries” that cannot be seen. This theme of comparing different types of literal and metaphorical “fractures” to one another is present throughout the book.
How long did it take you to write the book, and how did you go about researching it?
It’s difficult to say how long it took to write because I put it aside so many times over the course of about five years. I started writing the book right after graduating from my MFA program in 2015, and I finished a draft and already started on rewrites over the course of that one summer. Although the book continued to change every time I revisited it and started rewriting and editing, the core story was written in a few months. I also didn’t do much research since the topics in the book are all ones that I am familiar with already and have experienced in one way or another. If there was a detail I didn’t know that needed to be incorporated into a scene I would look up some facts as I went or make a note to revisit it during rewrites.
Can you tell us about the main characters – who they are and what challenges they face?
The two main characters are Mason Vance and Lace Havern, and they basically could not be any different from one another. This made them particularly fun to write and to create a contrast between a seemingly mismatched pair that end up having more in common than what’s seen on the surface. I enjoyed exploring how they were able to learn from one another and help each other grow through their struggles.
Mason’s main challenge would initially seem to be his wrist healing and the uncertainty of his future football career, but as the story takes shape it becomes clearer that this isn’t necessarily the biggest challenge for him, even though he thought it was, and what he has to face is much bigger than football.
Lace’s challenges are only really learned through Mason since he is the narrator and main character, and although the reader slowly gets a glimpse into her life and what she is going through, by Mason learning about her struggles it helps them both to grow in different ways.
What is the intended age group for your audience? Why did you want to write for this audience?
The intended audience is older teens and young adults age 16+. I have always been drawn to stories for this audience because it’s a time when everything feels extreme and permanent and emotional beyond compare. I often think about how it would feel to relive being a teenager with the perspective I have as an adult, and I really don’t think it would be any easier. So, I strive to write stories that are relatable, and ones that readers can see themselves in, hopefully helping them to realize they are not alone in their thoughts.
Is this your first novel? Have you written other books?
This is my first novel. I wrote another young adult novel prior to Fractured, but I never published it and I still hope to revisit it one day and rewrite the story because it has been one that has always stuck with me over the years. My previous novel was my thesis for my graduate MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College, and it was while I was still figuring out how to write well, so that project was put aside, and I began writing Fractured right after graduating that summer.
I also wrote and published a poetry collection Bleeding Flowers, and I’m currently working on another poetry collection.
And you’re a poet, too! When did you start writing poetry? I understand you’ve also published a book of poetry – can you tell us about that?
I guess I’ve been writing poetry ever since I was young. I didn’t write it with any sort of consistency until a few years ago but it became a therapeutic outlet for me, and I remembered why I used to write it in the first place. My book of poetry Bleeding Flowers is filled with a lot of deep and emotional poems that were important for me to write because many dealt with a past situation in my life that I was looking for clarity about. Ever since publishing the collection, more and more poetry kept flowing out of me on so many different topics. I have been working on another collection of poetry about my selective mutism growing up.
Who are some of your favorite writers, of fiction and/or poetry? Whose books to you wait for or return to, and why?
My favorite young adult author is John Green. I think he does an amazing job of capturing the voices of his characters, and I truly think voice is what drives a story. One of my favorite books is Catcher in the Rye—a masterpiece in terms of voice.
Why did you first start writing?
I have always loved to write, and it was something that came naturally to me. I grew up selective mute, which is an extreme social anxiety disorder that actually prevents you from being able to speak in certain social settings. So, when I couldn’t speak, I would write, and writing became critical to me simply to have a voice and express myself. I sometimes write blog posts about selective mutism on my website (shaysiegel.com) and it’s an important topic to me that I like to raise awareness about.
I hear you also play tennis – please tell us about that.
I played competitive tennis for my whole life, including Division 1 tennis at Tulane University in New Orleans, and I lived at the Evert Tennis Academy my senior year of high school. I occasionally teach lessons in the Hamptons.
I understand that Fractured has won some awards. Would you like to share them with us?
Fractured received honorable mention in the 2021 TopShelf Magazine Awards Edition, placed as a finalist in the 2021 Chanticleer International Book Awards Young Adult Fiction category, placed as a semifinalist in the 2021 10th Annual Kindle Book Awards and won the silver medal in the 2021 Human Relations Indie Book Awards Teen Category. It also placed as a finalist winner in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Young New Adult Category, and was a #1 New Release on Amazon in Teen & Young Adult Fiction about Mental Illness and Teen & Young Adult Football Fiction.