I love odd stories, and this is definitely one, starting from the title. And I love “misplaced” authors, because they are just like me. In particular, Lauren talks about growing up as an immigrant child and, in a way, she answers many questions I, an Italian immigrant, sometimes I ask myself. Am I confusing him more, teaching him the language? Am I doing my boy any good, showing him the Italian craziness, teaching him about a culture that’s more mine than his?
The book is Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional by Lauren Nicolle Taylor published a few days ago in the Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult genre.
Nineteen-year-old Langley is crazy…like get out the straight jacket and prepare the padded room kind of crazy. She knows it, and the kicker is—she’s choosing to stay that way. She clings to the persistent and intrusive hallucination of her dead sister by choice. Sure, it might be nice to live life in the real world. But not if it means she has to let Sarah go.
Tupper’s life is charmed. He has loving adoptive parents, and several athletic college scholarships on the table. But his passion is for the arts, for the beauty of solid ink lines on paper. His illustrations are eerily similar to a keepsake from his birth mother, Anna: comic-book-style drawings scrawled across an old map…her version of a travel diary. At eighteen, Tupper sidesteps his planned future and starts his journey where Anna’s ended—following her map from Kansas City to Canada. His travels will put him on a collision course with Langley, and their bond is palpable from the start. But secrets will push between them—Sarah and Anna, two ghosts who could sink their icy fingers into the teens and tear them apart.
Perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover’s Hopeless and John Green’s Paper Towns, TRAVEL DIARY OF THE DEAD & DELUSIONAL is a unique and robust novel that explores themes of mental-illness and self-discovery from three distinct perspectives. Lauren Nicolle Taylor is the award-winning and best-selling author of Nora and Kettle and the beloved Woodlands series, among others.
“A story of love and loss, adventure, and coming into one’s own, Travel Diaries of the Dead and Delusional is a thoughtful, poignant road trip adventure that delivers hope through its melancholy.” ~Hannah Williams, Foreword Reviews Magazine
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NEAR MOAB, UT, 2015
She reminds me of the roadrunner cartoon. When she speeds up, dust floats around her churning feet, but then she stops dead, turns around, and walks back. She kneels like she’s praying or talking to someone, then she’s up again and sprinting for all she’s worth.
When she gets to the gate, she pauses and then runs in the opposite direction to where I’m parked. She moves away, getting smaller, her dark hair flapping out to the side like a shredded flag. I pull out my pencil to quickly sketch her figure. She looks like a ghost in my drawing. In thin pajama pants, hair waving wildly around her head. But her feet have these enormous boots on, and she’s stomping away from me in such a determined manner I know she’s real.
She’s real, and she might be in trouble.
I start the car just as fat globs of spring rain hit the windshield, making a muddy mess I can’t see through.
Waiting for more rain to wash the glass, I give up, jumping out and using my sweater to wipe the dirt off. She’s getting away from me, and it seems important that I catch up to her. Especially now since there’s a white van tearing up the driveway to the rusted gate. It really could be the home of a psychopath, and she’s just escaped his clutches.
Turning the key, I speed up and catch her in no time.
Keeping the car moving slowly next to her, I roll down the window.
After I clear my throat, I start to speak. She’s still running, but turns to face me. For a second, I’m taken aback by her face. She’s beautiful. Not like Kris, all big blue eyes and perfectly straightened blonde hair. This girl’s beauty is complicated, the features strange on their own but working in harmony. Her warm ruddy skin is the perfect canvas for a few spare freckles across her nose, and then there are her shockingly big brown eyes. She bats her eyelashes at me once, stops running, and turns around again to walk back a few paces. Kneeling, she whispers something and stands with her hands on her hips in the way my mom used to when she caught me eating the cooking chocolate from the pantry.
Taking a deep breath, I put the car in reverse, bringing it back to meet her.
She notices the van approaching the gate, and her demeanor changes. Turning to me, she gives me a wary smile. My heart jumps a little, which confuses me, but I figure it must be adrenaline.
“Excuse me, Miss,” I say. “Are you in trouble?”
Chatting with the Author
Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).
She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.
Lauren tells us about writing mixed race/hapa characters.
It’s something we’re hearing about more and more; Diversity in fiction, own voices and a general turn towards minorities seeing themselves in the stories they read. It’s wonderful. It’s progress. It’s not something I ever thought about doing any differently.
My father immigrated to Australia when he was nineteen. A gangly, Malaysian who wanted to be a physicist. And to succeed or even to be simply left alone, he felt it essential to reject his heritage. He had to assimilate. Stop talking funny. Eat and cook western food. Even at home. I have strong childhood memories of one-sided conversations with his mother. She would speak in Chinese and dad always replied in English. And I always wished I knew what both of them were talking about. She would push him to speak Chinese but he flatly refused. He was Australian and back then, that meant English. It meant spaghetti Bolognese and tuna mornay for dinner. It also meant his children would grow up with minimal cultural influence from him. Leaving them with a side craving for what they were, where they fit and how.
I got the, what are you? Where do you come from? You do look Asian. You don’t look Asian. You could pass for… Oh and recently, You don’t look as Asian as you used to. And when told my exact composition (Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Irish, French, Scottish), a wide eyed, often embarrassed look would follow, like it didn’t compute. It was too much.
My life could often be extremes: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, though delivered with an Asian accent. Then once a week, when I was looked after by my grandparents, I’d get Chinese Malaysian culture punched at me hard and fast. I loved those days, gobbled up the food, tried to learn the language though mostly all I’ve retained are swear words. I was lucky to have a Nana who was fiercely proud of her heritage.
When I was younger I was drawn to books that had any Asian characters in them. Whether it be the magical realism of Amy Tan’s, The Hundred Secret Senses to Li Cunxin’s autobiography, Mao’s Last Dancer. The part that I identified with most was the cultural displacement of the characters. I didn’t even try to find someone like me in books, rather I’d string together several characters into a Frankenstein that maybe came close, but there were rarely hapa books.
So now I write hapa books. I understand them. I don’t do it for political reasons and definitely not for publicity. You see, when I wrote my first book and now coming up to my eleventh, I never even considered writing my characters any other way. Writing hapa/mixed race is what comes naturally. That’s my voice. I don’t need to be authentic because I am.
The hapa experience is so very unique but also universal. Everyone feels like an imposter sometimes, whether it be culturally, socially or otherwise. Everyone struggles to find their place. Writing has definitely helped me find mine.
Keep in touch with Lauren here:
GIVEAWAY Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
- Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box (Intl winner would get eBook prizes)