Editor’s Note: We were fortunate enough to have debut author Laura E. Weymouth write an incredible, exclusive work about how stories affect us all. For Laura, stories provided an outlet and helped to inspire her debut novel, The Light Between Worlds. Read on to discover Laura’s take on the beautiful and revelatory magic of stories.
Early on in life, I learned that storytelling has a peculiar sort of magic to it—not just the magic of creation, of making something out of nothing, of spinning new worlds and new people and new plots into being, but the magic of revelation. Because in telling a story, you invariably learn something about yourself. And in listening to a story told, you learn more of who you are as well.
As a teen who wrote constantly, fiction and poetry were both my oracle and my catharsis. They showed me what I most struggled with, and then helped me to deal with those things in the safe and secure haven of text on a page. I learned through fiction how the uprootedness of my family background had profoundly impacted my ways of thinking, even when it seemed to have little bearing on day to day life. I learned through poetry how heavily the unkindness of humans to one another and the fate of our fragile planet hung on my young shoulders. I wrote with other voices, giving my words to invented characters, telling stories that were not my own, and in doing so, I uncovered truths about myself.
I learned as a reader, too, that stories are a revelatory experience. In A Ring of Endless Light, I found that I believe hope always overcomes darkness. In Surprised by Joy, I found my faith. In The Lumatere Chronicles, I found, quite simply, myself and my family.
When it came time to write The Light Between Worlds, I knew I’d learn deeply personal things in the process. But I also wanted to show on the page how the stories we tell about others are always, in some way, about ourselves. So I decided to write from two points of view. Two very different sisters, separated by time and space, telling stories about one another, and in doing so, telling readers about who they themselves are.
Evelyn, the younger of the Hapwell girls, tells the story of her older sister, Philippa—of her absence, of her successes and shortcomings, her fears and flaws, and in doing so, reveals who she, Evelyn, truly is. What she values, what she can and cannot handle as a sister and a friend, where her strengths lie and where she repeatedly falls short.
Philippa, in her turn, tells stories about Evelyn—about her homecoming, her pain and determination and brokenness. As she does, you see Philippa’s own lostness—her feelings of unbelonging, her repressed grief and trauma, her compulsive need to give more of herself than is advisable.
But the act of writing Ev and Phil’s story and releasing it into the world has brought me another layer of magic. Not only have I had the privilege of learning through the Hapwell girls and watching them learn about themselves, but I’ve also heard from readers with whom Evelyn and Philippa have profoundly resonated. A book I wrote about two girls discovering their truest selves, which taught me how deeply I believe that in the end, all shall be well, is now revealing truth to people I’ve never met.
That is the profound magic of storytelling. How tales told by others, and about others, teach us who we are.
Laura Weymouth is a Canadian living in exile in America and the sixth consecutive generation of her family to immigrate from one country to another. Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, a spoiled cat and an indeterminate number of chickens. You can find her on Twitter.
Laura’s debut YA fantasy, The Light Between Worlds, is on sale October, 23, 2018. You can find it on HPB.com and at Half Price Books stores while supplies last.