Please welcome author Holly Brown to the Book Club Girl blog! Her debut novel, Don't Try to Find Me, went on sale earlier this month. When a fourteen-year-old runs away, her parents turn to social media to find her—launching a public campaign that will expose their darkest secrets and change their family forever. Today, Holly explains the inspiration behind this suspenseful and gripping novel.
NPR, you’re my muse. I owe you a big donation at the next pledge drive, the kind that’ll earn me a case of organic wine. But first, a story.
About two years ago, I was commuting to the clinic where I work as a marriage and family therapist, listening to the NPR show “Here and Now.” I happened to catch an interview with Tony Loftis, founder of the non-profit organization howtofindyourmissingchild.org. His daughter had run away, and he’d been able to bring her home by launching a social media campaign. He wanted to help others do the same.
As a parent, I empathized instantly. My daughter wasn’t a year old yet, but I flashed forward to her teen years, to that moment when you have to abandon all pretense of control and hope that you’ve raised a person who’ll be able to take care of herself, even in circumstances you wouldn’t have wanted for her. Maybe I could imagine it so viscerally because I’m a therapist who’s worked with teens and families in crisis. I admired Tony’s ability to be proactive while his daughter was missing, and to later render his pain purposeful by teaching other parents the lessons he’d learned.
But the writer in me woke up when he explained that there’s danger in launching a social media campaign: All the family secrets can come out. Sometimes a parent even becomes a suspect.
With that, Don’t Try to Find Me was born. It’s about a mother and daughter who both have plenty of hide, and more in common than they’ve ever realized. Rachel and Marley were forged from my imagination, and my professional experience. While there’s plenty of suspense, it was very important to me that they stayed emotionally credible.
I’m a contemporary fiction writer through and through. What inspires me is a topical idea, one that lets individual psychology and interpersonal dynamics play out dramatically in the zeitgeist. Tony Loftis (via NPR) gave me that idea, and I’m immensely grateful to both.
Since then, I’ve gotten several other ideas from listening to NPR (one of which I’ve just started working on over the past few weeks; one that I can’t wait to dive into next.) So if you’re an aspiring writer who shares any of my proclivities, I’d recommend turning on your radio. And if you happen to catch a pledge drive, give.