If you're here, it's because you are curious about the inspiration behind It Starts With Me! I have touched a bit on this topic in other blog posts, but I thought it might be beneficial to lay it all out in one article of its own.
So let's jump in, shall we?
The idea to write a book about a girl and her dog came about back in 2016 when I went to pick out the most perfect pup named Jameson. My depression and anxiety were at an all time high in that last year, and so I had been doing research into Psychiatric Service Dogs. I learned the ins and the outs, the laws, and I found a trainer (whom I absolutely love), and she helped me transform Jameson into a Canine Good Citizen and beyond.
The bond that I had with Jameson was so immense that I knew a story was present in there somewhere. Although I am not Amity, and Jameson is not Sarge, the bond between the two characters is 100% my experience. But anyway!
I started planning the characters, gave them shape, and dimension, and then I started writing. The first few drafts of It Starts With Me are cringeworthy. But that's what first drafts are for, right? A first drafts' job is to be terrible, because you can always edit it later. What you can't edit is a blank page!
Fast forward a bit, and my writing went onto the back burner. Life has its way of knocking you down a bit, and I was very stressed out, to the point that writing just wasn't getting any spoons* from me.
When it finally picked back up, I realized I had hit a stalemate. I made it to Chapter Fourteen of a first draft, and I just couldn't go any further. You can check out the Killing Your Darlings blog post for some more information on this... but long story short is that once I ended up cutting out an entire character, I was able to continue to write again.
In 2020 when Jameson passed at just four years old, it took a giant piece of my heart away. Jameson was my first real loss, and while some would say, "he's just a dog!", he was so much more to me. Again, my writing was pushed aside. The thought of writing about a girl and her dog suddenly became too much to bear. Until one day it clicked: I need to do this FOR Jameson.
So once again, It Starts With Me picked up, and within a month or two, it was complete. I had originally intended on dedicating the last book of the Fight for Survival Series to Jameson, but with his unexpected loss, it seemed fitting to memorialize him in the very first debut.
And now, that very first idea of telling a story about a girl and her dog has morphed into a "dystopian tale tempered by the endearing bond"** between the two. I look forward to having y'all read the next two in the series, and see how Amity and Sarge's bond is tested.
So that's that! Thanks so much for taking the time to read, and may you have a wonderful day!
*The saying for spoons in Mental Health cases is that certain days you only have so many spoons, and once you're out, you've exhausted your capabilities for the day.
**Quote from an IndieReader Staff for an It Starts With Me Review.