Welcome to the final chapter of this semester’s book column. To finish out the semester, I spoke with IU alumna and author Karen Day.
Day’s new book “I’ll Stay,” will be published Jan. 30. It is a great book to start your second semester reading list.
Day is an Indiana native, and she graduated from IU in 1984 with degrees in journalism and English. While attending school here, she was on staff with the Indiana Daily Student, was a sister in Delta Gamma and played intramural sports.
“But probably my most memorable IU experience was when I was a freshman and our basketball team won the NCAA title.” Day said.
Her ties to IU are so strong that when it came time for Day to write her book, she chose to set her story partially at IU. Students will recognize many scenes from her novel like Kirkwood Avenue, Nick's and the health center.
“Students and faculty should be interested in seeing IU reflected in the pages.” Day said.
In the book, main characters, Clare and Lee, leave IU for spring break, not knowing it will be a horrific vacation. The encounter three violent men, and Lee sacrifices herself so Clare can get away. The intense friendship between the two women is at the center of the novel.
As action-packed as that sounds, this story is only beginning.
For the remainder of the novel, Clare grapples with questions like “How much do we owe the people we love?” and “How can we escape the psychological paradigms established in our childhoods?”
The three-part story prompts readers to work through the young adult lives of Lee and Clare. Readers are able to see how the two women deal with trauma differently.
“As a writer, I’m always looking for tension and problems, and so it’s the heartbreak that most interests me.” Day said.
She said her favorite parts of the novel to write were the ones that took place around IU. Day said she also loved writing about the main character’s mom, because the mom is a famous author. Her main character is also an English major, so Day said she had fun writing about her ruminations on the books she’s reading.
Despite having fun writing about a setting so familiar to her, Day also said she experienced struggles while writing.
Day put in the time and effort to give her characters a background story. This story allowed for the rising conflicts later in the plot to have more weight. She said it would have been easy to allow Lee and Clare’s problems to start on page one, but the struggles in their friendship started long before.
“I can’t tell you how often I tangled myself into knots over this." Day said, "It was so complex.”
Even though the craziness of publishing “I’ll Stay” is just beginning, Day said she already has other book ideas in the works.
Day has published three other middle-grade novels, which are aimed at children between ages 8 and 12, but she said adult literature is what she really loves to write.
As for now, Day said that even though the book is written from a young woman’s point of view, it is really a timeless story for all ages.
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