I am so completely honored and excited to be welcoming Candace Ganger to my blog today. She is such an inspiration and the work she is doing to further the conversation on mental health is astounding. Her new book, Six Goodbyes We Never Said, is a poetic masterpiece and I highly suggest reading my review and picking a copy up when it releases on Tuesday.
Now, without further ado, on to the interview!
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Candace, thank you so much for being on my blog today! As a mom that also struggles with her mental health, your openness on the topic is inspiring. Why do you feel that it’s important for us to be talking about these kinds of struggles?
Because so many of us are dealing with the same struggles. I talk about mine so someone out there can feel seen, less alone. If we all did that no one would ever feel alone.
Your writing deals heavily with the topics of mental illness and the ways they affect our lives. Is writing about these things difficult or more cathartic for you?
Both. I sincerely believe the only way around the pain is through (as said in Birdie & Bash). You can’t dodge it or fast forward: you have to strap yourself in let yourself feel it all. It hurts, it has to. That’s what heals you, fully — giving into the pain and letting it transform you. I’ve been through a lot since the first draft of this, and maybe I’ve written those pieces into Naima and Dew.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from your newest novel, Six Goodbyes We Never Said?
To be kind. You never know what others are going through behind closed doors, so have compassion.
Candace Ganger is a young adult author, contributing writer for Hello Giggles, and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.
Hello, dear reader.
I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empathize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.
Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t admit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.
Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.
Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as permission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.
Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.
Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go.
Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her.
Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.
Candace Ganger’s Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.