It’s so amazing to be invited to write an article about my newest book on the Authors’ Lounge. I am an unknown author who mostly spends her time reading and promoting other people’s books, and I feel really privileged to be able to share my enthusiasm for my own work. So thank you, Authors’ Lounge!
‘The Pretty Girl: a short’ is a short story inspired by an experience I had at school in what Americans would call my junior year. I had this group of friends who were quite a big influence on me at the time. One of them in particular was kind of like a mentor to me. One day, out of the blue, she just started raving to me about this girl she and some others in her class considered pretty. I didn’t think much of it, but soon everybody in our group of friends seemed to be talking about this “pretty girl”. The level of interest this girl, who was much younger than us, generated was extraordinary. I even caught my friends following her around the school at one stage; it was crazy!
Over the years, these images stuck with me. I guess they had a special kind of power; they refused to be allowed to fade away like so many school memories do. It was during the Coronavirus lockdown that the idea of writing a story about “the pretty girl” came to me. While surfing the web one night, I came across an article about the Amy Schumer movie, I Feel Pretty. Not being able to attend my local gym, I was intrigued by a film whose magic takes place in a spin class. After watching the movie (and thoroughly enjoying the gym scenes!) I found I couldn’t stop thinking about my school experiences. More than ever, they now seemed to plague me. Then it hit me: I had to write about the pretty girl if I wanted to find closure.
I was only intending to write about my experience in an autobiographical way, but the book evolved into a mostly fictional story centred around a group of sophomore schoolgirls who go on a few wild rides in their quest to learn more about “the pretty girl” who materialises as a newcomer to their school. The book is aimed at girls of the same or similar age, and the underlying message I try to put across is that beauty is a complex thing. Yes, it is found within, but it also relates to confidence and how we carry ourselves, how much respect we have for ourselves. These are things I wish I had been taught at a deep level when I was at school. I would spare any young woman the angst I suffered trying to figure myself out in those awkward years that seemed to go on forever but actually were over far too soon.
The story is intended as a standalone short. I do not have any current plans to extend the world of Emerson and her friends. However, I am planning a future novel that also centres around the topic of beauty, something I have found through personal research people never have enough of talking about. Perhaps it is a special interest of mine; maybe I am just fascinated by things that change people’s behaviour around others, especially self-possessed people. Ultimately, I think it is an important part of social cohesion. A big part of how we function and come together as a society involves how attractive we find others and how we form our opinions about attractive people. We all know someone who is breathtakingly gorgeous. We also all probably know someone who would kill to be one of the ‘pretty ones’. And beauty is a multi-billion-dollar industry. For women, especially, expectations around beauty can come to dominate one’s life. There are moments of elation and moments of despair. I often like to say it’s a blessing we ladies become more confident in our bodies as we age, otherwise older women would become too depressed and younger ones would become too cocky.
If you take anything from my short story, I hope it will be to embrace the mentality of Bridget Jones in all her ‘panties-stuck-to-my-thighs’ glory while leaving that of perfect-in-every-conceivable-way Cinderella in the dust where it belongs. Fart in the tub, joke about your ingrown hairs, stop pretending you don’t use foul language. Live your unique life in your unique body and leave your unique mark on the world. Scrap the ideals and trends and find the real you. After all, as Amy Schumer’s character discovers in I Feel Pretty, you will perform your best magic as YOU.
Thanks for reading and if you enjoy the book, I welcome reviews and “pretty girl” stories of your own! Let’s get a dialogue going. 🙂
‘The Pretty Girl: a short’ can be accessed in the Kindle store here: