Title: Paper Souls
Author: Allie Burke
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Dark Literary Fiction
Release Date: Sept 9, 2014
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From the author of the bestselling genre-defining Enchanters series, comes a new literary tour de force about Emily, a young woman balancing two worlds between her fingertips: the one that is real to her and the one that is real to everyone else…
The question is: which one will she choose?
Never romanticizing what it means to be a twenty-something schizophrenic in a world broken by normalcy and half-baked fairytales, Allie Burke’s latest novel unites Emily and her world at large spanning from the streets of Russia, to the sheets of her bed, to the idiosyncratic comfort she gets from worlds that don’t exist at all.
Woven with angst and darkness, bursting with heartache, Paper Souls tells of the irreparably damaged and broken, and how they survive.
Why did you choose schizophrenia as your MC’s mental illness?
To answer such a question is to write another book, probably, but the easy answer is that I was diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia in 2011.
To me, writing is about awareness, and the first thing I found out about Schizophrenia from the day I was diagnosed is that, on a grand scale, very few people know or care anything about Schizophrenia or the lives it takes. There are more than five people in my life who are affected by other serious mental illnesses, so I could have easily written about others, but because I’ve lived it my entire life, I believed that I had a surreal edge that I could implement into the prose that would lend a descriptive account of the reality of Schizophrenia and what it looks and feels like.
Like all writers, I did pull from my own experiences to bring that reality to the page, and though Paper Souls is very fictional, there are certain hallucinations and emotions that I pulled from my own life and the lives of others affected by the same illness. By doing that, giving Emily Schizophrenia and giving her reader the opportunity to travel her road with her through her eyes and her head and her heart, I believe that it does create awareness for this illness and the people affected by it, either directly or indirectly. I don’t think there’s enough sensitivity and empathy in the world for each individual experience, and I’d like to see that change; I’d like us to strive to have respect for each individual and how easy or hard or happy or sad or challenging or ambitious their life may be. The end of Paper Souls offers us a different perspective on what we know about schizophrenia and mental illness, and I think that’s kind of the whole point.
Brendan felt nothing. He saw nothing.
He knew nothing.
But that didn’t matter.
The swollen crowd before the stage was really of no consequence to him. His music consumed him. Destroyed him. Sealed him.
He didn’t even really exist.
Until he did.
Brendan breathed sharply, cutting his heart open. The flaps of his heart spread freely like the wings of a butterfly. His fingers lost their grip and his pick bounced off the stage with a crash in his ears. The deep waves from Tom’s Warwick behind him could not compete with the sound. His knees bent, knocking the wooden planks beneath him. He flattened his palm at the edge of the stage as he gasped for air. He coughed. Will was at his side; Brendan felt his touch, heard his voice, but . . .
Brendan opened his eyes and slowly lifted his head.
She had this walk. She was so reserved about her physical appearance—Brendan didn’t think he had ever even seen her feet—but the way she walked, floated, was like she was the sexiest woman in the world, and she knew it. Her hips swayed like a feather in the wind when she walked. Brendan was behind her on the stairs once, at his house. And in that moment, he really didn’t want anything more than to stick his dick in her ass.
Emily stood in a far corner—always backed into a corner—a dark, empty crevice of the bar free of people, with an expression that told Brendan—and everyone else—that he was supposed to be intimidated by her.
“Brendan,” Will called beside him, gently shaking him.
“Will,” Brendan croaked out in a whisper, “please stop talking.”
Brendan untangled himself from his guitar and set it gently upon the stage. It probably should have occurred to him earlier that he had stopped playing in front of a full crowd, but
he really didn’t care.
Will was glaring at Brendan, but Brendan ignored him.
Brendan stepped over his guitar and leaped from the stage. Strolling through a cluster of tattoos that a twice-stricken criminal wouldn’t take credit for, he held Emily’s unwavering glare from across the bar. The look in her eyes reminded Brendan of a caged animal.
Brendan didn’t stop.
He clutched her tiny hips between his fingers, lifted her from the barstool, and slammed her against the wall.
The universe didn’t make a sound.
Brendan was so drunk.
He clutched her face in his hands.
“He’s gone. You can be happy now, okay?”
“No. I love you, okay? You are so amazing—you don’t even know the effect you have on people by just walking into a room, Em. You have every tool at your disposal to dig deep in that huge heart of yours and find happiness. None of the other shit matters. None of it.”
Brendan let her go. The look she gave him was one Brendan, in four years of friendship, had never seen on her face. Before that moment, he hadn’t ever known what she looked like.
She was so fucking beautiful.
An American novelist, book critic, and magazine editor from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.