This week author Bella James is interviewing feisty Anna Winters from her bestselling novel, The Girl Who Cried Wolf, and the sequel Hunger Moon, which is out now. In these gritty YA novels, Anna deals with depression and an eating disorder – two very topical and important subjects.

 

      

Blurb

Anna Winters is beautiful, reckless and entirely self-absorbed. She spends more time thinking up reasons to call in sick to school than she does studying for her A levels. She shies away from her family, from responsibility – from anything in fact that doesn’t involve peach cider and endless parties with her friend Jules.

Anna assumes that her headaches are an inconvenient symptom of her wild lifestyle, until a doctor tells her that she has cancer…

As a terrifying black cloud descends upon her, Anna finds solace in Michael, another patient in the oncology ward. Michael shows Anna a chink of light in the darkness and sees beauty behind her illness and loves her sassy wit. He makes Anna forget she is ill.

Michael recovers; but Anna’s prospects worsen. And in emergency surgery, as she hovers between life and death, she is given a stark glimpse of why her life is so broken, and as she realises the simple fulfillment of being truly content, fears it may now be too late…

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? Now let’s move onto Bella’s interview with Anna.

Hello Anna. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi.  I’m Anna.  I’m seventeen, have a neurotic wreck for a mother, a bullying wife-beating father (so she says, I’m not convinced) and a fourteen-year-old sister who would make Mary Poppins look flawed. And I’ve just recovered from cancer, but not before losing in chemo every ounce of dignity and remote appeal I’ve tried to muster over the last seventeen years.  That’s pretty much my life in horrible nutshell.

 You have a boyfriend, don’t you? Where did you meet him?

 Oh yes.  (Now Anna looks so different when she smiles) Michael is my boyfriend, we met in hospital, actually.  Not the most romantic setting for a love story, but he stayed by me through everything.  I suppose he must see something in me that other people don’t see.  He says I make him laugh.

 A few months after the surgery to remove the tumour on your brain- you said you remembered something that happened while your heart stopped beating.  That’s what we wanted to talk to you about more than anything.  We call it a ‘Near death experience.

You don’t really want to know about my ‘life’ then. It’s my death that interests you! I only remember flash backs now – like seeing everything in vivid colour, a feeling of separation from my body but not from life.  I don’t think there ever really is separation from life-it felt as though we all came from and return to the same oneness.  That one thing that makes our hearts beat and the grass grow.  I remember someone talking to me about progression, that there is an energy force within everything, from beetles to flowers, to rivers and mountains.  And us of course.  Humans, butterflies, lions.  Everything.

The progression begins with every tiny seed or embryo, and we all have a will to grow and survive.  Some flow with this beautiful energy, and some struggle against it.  Like me.

I was thinking maybe that’s why I became so ill, because I was struggling too hard against life, I was angry and too painfully self-conscious.  I felt like a broken jig-saw of myself- that someone had crudely tried to put back together.  Pieces were in the wrong places.  Pieces were missing.

 And now…After your experience…Do you feel whole again?

No!  I don’t feel put-back-together at all, not in the way I should.  But. (She pauses for a long time) I realise that there aren’t pieces missing anymore.  They’re all there on the table.  I just need to figure out how to put them back in the right place.

Why ‘the girl who cried wolf?’

 Because like in the fable-  I’m so frightened that my one true cry for help won’t be answered.  That no one will believe me that I want so desperately to change.

I realise how precious life is, and that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

That we’re all here to move forward and to find the path that will bring us the most happiness and peace.  I want to stay and be well, but there’s a black wolf who chases me through my dreams.  He is my fear, my anger and separation from love.  I know that I can’t run from him any longer.  He is the only one who can set me free.

Here’s an excerpt from the book

Chapter One:

Calling in Sick?

You name it, I’ve done it.

I’ve had every ear, nose and throat infection known to man. I’ve lost countless aunties, uncles and grandparents. In fact, I think during Year 11 I made the amateur mistake of losing a particular grandparent more than once. A rather weary-looking tutor asked me, ‘Anna, didn’t you already lose your father’s mother not long before last term’s essays were due?’

If anyone finds it unethical using a loved one’s demise to avoid handing in coursework, you won’t be terribly impressed to know that before her actual death, the same granny’s passing was also the reason I made it to Ayia Napa for Jules’ eighteenth birthday instead of producing a paper on Shakespeare’s sonnets. She managed a fairly decent spell of good health after that, until sadly being cremated a third and final time when Ashley in Year 12 had tickets for The X Factor.

Now I attend sixth form, a note from my oblivious mother no longer suffices. I have to do the unpleasantries by means of telephone, but I am perfectly happy to report that at the tender age of seventeen (and a half), I have this down to a fine art.

Essentially, the trick to a compelling ‘calling in sick’ is to really believe your afflictions. Sound effects are good, like holding six grapes in your cheek when feigning a dental emergency, but nothing beats the actual enactment. Heart and soul. When using the age-old stomach upset, actually feel the cramps. Hold your tummy and bend over slightly with imagined pain, then adopt a defeatist tone when you speak. Aim for suffering, with a hint of despair.

Of course, this only ever works on the school secretary, who doesn’t really give a flying fuck whether you’re ill or dying. Having said that, the non-judgemental answering machine is always a most welcome and sympathetic listener.

However, if you are one of those unfortunate souls whose sick call goes straight to Head of Year, you can forget about it. Once a term, they attend a secret seminar that enables them to detect the fakers immediately.

In such a circumstance, you must bite the bullet. Take a shower, haul on yesterday’s un-ironed clothes, squeeze onto the bus with the other unfortunates, and go to school.

 

Want to read more? You can buy the book here:

https://www.btpandimprints.com/hungermoon

https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

 

 Meet Bella

 

 About Bella

Bella James is the author of The Girl Who Cried Wolf, and the sequel Hunger Moon.

She writes gritty and intense YA novels that pull no punches in the trials of transitioning from child to adulthood.

Bella worked for many years with young people who were facing exclusion from mainstream schools, and is a passionate crusader in dispelling the challenges we face all our lives -trying to fit into a world that doesn’t always accept us for who we want to be.

Contact Links 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Bella%20James

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Bella_James_

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bella-James/e/B01MAW809Y/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

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 Bring a little sunshine into your life with one of my sassy, feel good romances. From Amazon and other book stories. All books available in print too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Excerpt)

The Girl Who Cried Wolf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One:

Calling in Sick?

 

 

You name it, I’ve done it.

I’ve had every ear, nose and throat infection known to man. I’ve lost countless aunties, uncles and grandparents. In fact, I think during Year 11 I made the amateur mistake of losing a particular grandparent more than once. A rather weary-looking tutor asked me, ‘Anna, didn’t you already lose your father’s mother not long before last term’s essays were due?’

If anyone finds it unethical using a loved one’s demise to avoid handing in coursework, you won’t be terribly impressed to know that before her actual death, the same granny’s passing was also the reason I made it to Ayia Napa for Jules’ eighteenth birthday instead of producing a paper on Shakespeare’s sonnets. She managed a fairly decent spell of good health after that, until sadly being cremated a third and final time when Ashley in Year 12 had tickets for The X Factor.

Now I attend sixth form, a note from my oblivious mother no longer suffices. I have to do the unpleasantries by means of telephone, but I am perfectly happy to report that at the tender age of seventeen (and a half), I have this down to a fine art.

Essentially, the trick to a compelling ‘calling in sick’ is to really believe your afflictions. Sound effects are good, like holding six grapes in your cheek when feigning a dental emergency, but nothing beats the actual enactment. Heart and soul. When using the age-old stomach upset, actually feel the cramps. Hold your tummy and bend over slightly with imagined pain, then adopt a defeatist tone when you speak. Aim for suffering, with a hint of despair.

Of course, this only ever works on the school secretary, who doesn’t really give a flying fuck whether you’re ill or dying. Having said that, the non-judgemental answering machine is always a most welcome and sympathetic listener.

However, if you are one of those unfortunate souls whose sick call goes straight to Head of Year, you can forget about it. Once a term, they attend a secret seminar that enables them to detect the fakers immediately.

In such a circumstance, you must bite the bullet. Take a shower, haul on yesterday’s un-ironed clothes, squeeze onto the bus with the other unfortunates, and go to school.

 

 

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