The Library of Lost Things is out in the world! It’s a gorgeously written YA coming-of-age debut by Las Musas’ Cuban-American author Laura Taylor Namey.
“One reader said that it’s a story ‘about love.’ I think that’s the best description,” Taylor Namey said.
The novel follows the life of high school senior and bibliophile Darcy Wells, who has spent most of her life hiding in other people’s stories. Books are her way of coping with her mother’s hoarding disorder. Darcy finds refuge in her best friend Marisol Robles’ family. Marisol’s big, loving Cuban-Mexican family take in Darcy as one of their own. While Darcy is struggling to survive her mother’s mental illness, Asher Fleet, a former teen pilot with a shattered future, walks into the bookstore where she works and straight into her heart.
“The idea of Darcy came because I’ve always been a little like she is. I’ve used books as a stress reliever,” said Taylor Namey from her home in San Diego. “When my own happy endings weren’t so happy, I would live vicariously through the characters in the books I was reading.”
“For the premise of the book, I thought about someone who wasn’t just escaping in books, but hiding in them. What would that look like?”
REASONS TO HIDE: EXPLORING MENTAL ILLNESS
Taylor Namey relied on the crafting methods detailed in the book Story Genius by Lisa Cron, which include a thorough backstory exploration of the main character.
In Darcy’s case, Taylor Namey needed a strong reason for Darcy to want to hide from her real life. The author looked to her own life experience for inspiration. While attending college, she had visited a fellow student’s house and quickly realized his mother suffered from a hoarding disorder.
“That visit never left me. It was an expensive house in an affluent neighborhood. This house was beautiful on the outside but the inside was another matter. Besides being packed with boxes and items, there was animal feces on the floor, food everywhere, dusty, dirt, mildew, mold. I couldn’t understand how you could treat your home this way? Then I began learning more about the illness,” the author said. “There are a few different types of hoarding, not all of which manifest in the same ways. Darcy’s home shares some similarities with the home I visited, and some key differences too.”
To ensure the book’s portrayal of mental illness was accurate, Taylor Namey had the psychological aspects of the book carefully vetted by a professional who works with hoarding patients.
“By writing about this illness, I’m not trying to judge anyone. It’s more like, this is real, let’s explore it and there is hope. The story doesn’t wrap with a perfect bow at the end, but there’s improvement and realization in a way that moves the family forward,” she explained.
ON CRAFT AND HER WRITING JOURNEY
It took Taylor Namey about three years to become a published author. The former elementary teacher had a music and poetry background, but no fiction writing experience.
“I taught myself how to write by working on a manuscript. Then I took some online classes and I went to conferences,” she recalled. “I have a musical background, I’ve done composing and arranging. I think those skills helped me to develop my voice. I mostly needed to learn about plot beats, how to self edit, and story pacing. I had to learn how to be a better storyteller.”
Part of that learning process included feedback from other trusted writers. An advice she now shares with aspiring authors.
“I think it’s important for writers to get eyes on their work and face that fear. For me, there’s an end point as to what I can see in my writing. Other people can show you things you can’t see. Inviting other people into your writing world is important in that respect. People whose opinion and skill level you value.”
As a result of this process, Taylor Namey decided to shelve her first manuscript and write a new one, which eventually became The Library of Lost Things.
In early 2017, she was selected as an alternate in the Pitch Wars mentoring program. There she met a group of supportive critique partners who made her work even stronger. She began querying that fall and by December of that year she had signed an agent contract. In May 2018, she sold her manuscript to HarperCollins’ Inkyard Press.
Today, she is working to deliver a two-book contract with Simon and Schuster’s Atheneum. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2020.
“It’s a mashup of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Chocolat, and With The Fire on High. It is my favorite thing that I have ever written,” she said.
Her current project is a friendship breakup YA retelling of the Divine Secrets of the YA-Ya Sisterhood.
For information about events and appearances visit Taylor Namey’s website: LauraTaylorNamey.com
About the blog author...
Mayra Cuevas’s YA contemporary #OwnVoices debut SALTY, BITTER, SWEET hits shelves on March 2020. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Mayra is a professional journalist and fiction writer who prefers love stories with a happy ending. Her debut fiction short story was selected by best-selling author Becky Albertalli to appear in the Foreshadow YA serial anthology in 2019. She is currently a special projects producer for CNN. She keeps her sanity by practicing Buddhist meditation and serving on the Board of Directors of Kadampa Meditation Center Georgia. She lives with her husband, also a CNN journalist, and their cat, in the charming town of Norcross, Georgia. She is also the step-mom to two amazing young men who provide plenty of inspiration for her stories. Her claim to fame came as she and her husband appeared in Season 2 of Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers. Follow her journey on Twitter @MayraECuevas, on Instagram @Mayra.Cuevas and her website MayraCuevas.com.
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