It’s always a bit surreal, reading the blurb on the back cover of your own book for the
first time. On Deep Girls, my first short story collection, it says, “The clichés of
fictional relationships are tossed aside, and instead we read about girls whose
relationships with their families are like the real relationships readers see in the
world around them.” By this, I believe the writer meant that the book explores
relationships that are strained, faulty, rough, tough, often loving and cruel
simultaneously… in other words, relationships that are intensely imperfect. I think
this does capture what these stories, written decades ago in my twenties and thirties,
explore. For me, reading them is like taking a journey back in time, through the
many the relationships that formed me, that I witnessed, and also that I imagined.
The title is taken from the first story in the collection, “Deep Girls.” I was thrilled
when Dancing Cat Books allowed it to stand. The concept of depth is relevant to each
story, to each protagonist who is navigating that rough terrain toward adulthood. I
was often accused of being too deep when I was a teenager. I think this meant I was
too moody, that I thought too much and didn’t let go. Most often, it was used as an
insult, as in I should let my hair down, lighten up, be more fun. It’s not that I
disagreed. After all, being deep is hard. Thinking too much is hard. But it’s the nature
of a writer to do so, isn’t it? Introspection, honest introspection, dissection of one’s
world – all are key ingredients. So, all my heroines are also deep. They feel too
deeply, think too deeply, desire too deeply. I love each and every one of them.
Here, in a nutshell, is how each protagonist connects to the concept of depth.
Deep Girls: Lizzie’s mom and boyfriend, Joe, want Lizzie to put more focus on her
looks, but Lizzie doesn’t care about the superficial; she loves to read and think about
the state of the world.
The Girl in the Purple Pants: Steph loves the intoxicating freedom of the new girl
who, for some reason, is allowed to come to school in purple pants. She watches her
run, laugh, and sore with a deep longing to capture some of that free spirit.
Captivity: Stuck in the deep south, Miranda has plenty of time to compare her own
bourgeois upbringing and home-life, with its focus on school and success, with the
laidback lifestyle of a tourist beach town.
Out of the Woods: The cruelty in Kathy’s family runs deep, so deep it has left
cracks and scars on a mother she now has to chaperone and shelter, especially on a
visit to her grandmother’s.
Ice: Death has sunk in and coated Cal’s emotions with ice, creating a person she
doesn’t want to be. Deep inside, under the cold, is someone warm and affectionate.
My Cousin Jack: Leaving her childhood neighbourhood behind and moving to a
more affluent area should be a good thing, but Jody’s deep attachment to her beloved
Verdun and the special person she left there make integrating a real challenge.
Pink Lady: To be young, beautiful, and sophisticated in New York City is a dream
come true for Amanda; if only she didn’t have her aging, pudgy father in tow. He
could never understand how deep and vibrant the city makes her feel.
Smart Aleck: Ruth is on her way to a professional, active and important life, one
that leaves her stay-at-home mom and her beloved outdoor animals behind. Her life
is going to have an intellectual depth her mom will never know.
Relativity: Alberta’s parents are old and drab, their lives devoid of excitement and
passion. Alberta’s is on the same track, until she falls for the father of the kids she
babysits. She knows their special connection runs deep and is as lively as the
thousands of colourful fish he lovingly cares for.
I hope you enjoy my collection. I hope some of the stories make you feel old and new
emotions, that they take you somewhere intensely personal, that they make you
either laugh or cry – or both, that they reinforce for you just how complex and fragile
and wonderful growing up can be.
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