When I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to write, and so by the time I was five I was writing sentences. By the time I was seven, I was writing very bad plays, the plots of which were based on Ducktales episodes. At ten I tried my hand at musicals (as it turned out, that one didn’t work out so well—it’s hard to write a musical when you are tone deaf).
But it wasn’t until I was thirteen and I purchased Avi’s The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle at a middle school book fair that I knew exactly what I wanted to write. Novels. Ones that grasped and clawed at my heart the way Charlotte did. She was the sort of heroine I wanted to create: Smart, endearing, spunky—and not someone who took things sitting down.
When I reflect on it, I suppose Anabel, the heroine of my novel, is a lot like Charlotte—but perhaps a grown-up version. I conceived Anabel in my mind when I was eighteen—and then spent the next decade finding a home for her (Washington, DC), throwing her life into chaos, and creating different scenarios for her. When sitting down at the beginning of 2009 to write the book that would eventually become Anabel Unraveled, I found myself heavily influenced by loss of innocence stories—Nabokov’s Lolita, John Connolly’s The Book of Lost Things. At first, I didn’t even think of Charlotte—but then again, in a much different way, she loses her innocence through the course of that story as well—finding that adults don’t always protect you, that the ideals and institutions that you hold dear aren’t always what the seemed through the trusting gaze of childhood. Charlotte’s ordered world was destroyed and she operated under a new paradigm completely different from her life of privilege. When writing Anabel I shattered her world and forced her to survive.
It’s funny to look back on it now, and realize that the book that influenced me the most to write was one that I read when I was thirteen, one that I reread every single year without fail because Charlotte is as dear to me as my own literary creation. So many books that we read as children stay with us forever, and every year when I pull my dog-eared paperback off of the shelf for a quick voyage out of England toward America on The Seahawk, I feel that same tug at my heart that I did the first time I read her story—one that I hope Anabel inspires in those who read hers.
Anabel Martin’s world was destroyed the day her father was murdered. After spending seventeen years of her life trapped on a Top Secret island in the South Pacific, she now finds herself in Washington, DC in the care of her former politician brother and his unwelcoming wife. While she wants nothing more than to be left alone, instead she is thrust into the limelight as a key witness in the Congressional hearings investigating the murder of her father and the very existence of her former home. For Anabel, it’s hard to concentrate on these proceedings when the thing she wants most in the world is for Jared Sorensen to die.
What’s even worse is that Jared is the only reason she’s still alive.