Thursday will mark the official release of Blue Jeans and Sweatshirts, book 4 in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press. The series started two years ago with the release of Nail Polish and Feathers and the requests and pleas of a few readers, including an author I greatly admire, that I continue Evan Granger’s story.
Evan is only the main character of Nail Polish and Feathers, but he makes appearances in the other three books currently available as well, as Guillermo’s boyfriend in Shoulder Pads and Flannel, part of Chastaine’s support system in High Heels and Lipstick, and of course Holly’s cousin in Blue Jeans and Sweatshirts. But the storyline of the series has gone far past Evan’s struggles with bullying and trying to become a drag queen.
In Blue Jeans and Sweatshirts, main character Holly McCormack is keeping secrets even from her best friend and confidant Evan. While Evan knows about Holly and Chastaine’s relationship–which Holly and Chastaine are hiding from almost everyone else–he doesn’t know that Holly has almost stopped eating. Neither does Chastaine, even though in Holly’s mind, Chastaine is the reason for it. And while Holly loves Chastaine and wants to help her, her fears and insecurities are getting in the way.
Writing Guillermo’s and Chastaine’s stories were a no-brainer for me. But I wasn’t originally planning to write Holly’s. It took me a while to see that there was a story there. Even though Holly has appeared in the previous three books and played a big role in Chastaine’s, I didn’t really know her as a character. She was mostly in the background providing support to the others.
But since I’d written Guillermo’s story as the flip side of Evan’s, I thought I should write Holly’s as the flip side of Chastaine’s. And the folks at Harmony Ink Press agreed, especially since they were looking for more books with female main characters. So I sat down to brainstorm, and in the process learned a lot more about Holly than I’d bargained for. In good ways.
Holly’s insecurities about her body, and especially the development of her eating disorder, are something very personal to me. Aside from having had similar insecurities myself, I’m close to a teenage girl who battled bulimia for three years. Although she’s recovered, she still sometimes battles the urges, and she did lasting damage to her stomach and esophagus. I’ve known other girls who had similar thoughts and disordered eating, and I believed they deserved a voice.
Holly’s story, like the other three, has light moments and definite signs of hope, as well as struggles and dark moments. I hope readers will enjoy Holly’s story as much as I did.