My book is titled, Restricted: A novel of half-truths, and it’s based on my experience struggling with an eating disorder and going into treatment. “Restricted” takes readers into the mind of a nineteen year old girl named Erin. The world she enters is a world where thoughts are overrun by fears, lies are no longer fiction, and reality is miles away. Erin’s distorted thinking and actions eventually take a toll on her body and mind. In order to get better, change is the only option.
Tell us something about yourself.
I’m 26 years old, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Stevenson University in Visual Communication Design. Like a lot of people, I kept saying, “I want to write a book one day!” Only “one day” usually leads to never, so I took on the challenge for myself. In addition to writing, the editing, design, and artwork were all done by myself.
What inspired you to write this book?
I hope that maybe someone who is struggling picks up my book and feels less alone, more understood, and reaches out for help. I also want the general public (including medical professionals not trained in eating disorders) to learn from my story. There are still too many misunderstandings and stereotypes surrounding eating disorders. Also, I like that I’ve been able to publicly thank those who have helped me. They’ve all inspired me and deserve recognition.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
The hardest part of publishing was completing the book and having family and friends read everything. It took a few months to prepare myself before I was ready to share. I rarely let people read my writing, but especially writing that’s so personal. Putting it all out there made me feel very vulnerable but I’ve received nothing but positive comments.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve always been a creative person so expressing myself through visual art or words comes naturally to me. When I was in 3rd grade, I wrote and illustrated a book about a princess, and it’s still stored away in my bookcase somewhere. While working on myself through the recovery process, journaling has been a great coping skill for me. When I decided to write the book, I just took it a few steps further and kept writing until I couldn’t write any more.
Do you have any writing rituals?
It’s not really a ritual, but I tend to work best while I’m at Starbucks enjoying some coffee. I get distracted easily when I’m around a TV or a computer with internet access. Without them, I’m able to focus better. Silence distracts me even more so I like the noise at a public place.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Writing taught me that I am capable of completing an entire book, since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish such a big project. I also know that I am very hard on myself and my worst critic, but I had to ignore the critical side for at least a while. Otherwise, I would have wasted a lot of time editing when I should have been writing.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am currently working on my second book, which is a continuation of “Restricted.” I wrote them a year apart from each other, and since it’s all based on my life, the second book tells what happened in the year in between. It’s also written a bit differently, both in first person from the points of view from Erin (like in “Restricted’) and her multiple treatment providers.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
The best advice: write. Write when you want to, write when you don’t want to, when you’re tired, or excited, and even if you have no time. Just write. I pushed myself every day in order to stay on track, usually with a word count goal. It was definitely not fun a lot of days, but it’s the only way. Everything written will not be great but that’s okay.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Anyone who has suffered (or suffers) from an eating disorder, those who know someone with an eating disorder, parents of teenagers, people who are interested in psychology, body image, or women‘s issues, and individuals in the medical field. I made sure to not include numbers or any other direct triggers in order to make it comfortable for anyone to read.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
The “Restricted” Facebook page is at www.facebook.com/restrictedbook, and there you will find links and information on where to purchase, as well as relevant updates. My personal site is at www.jenniferkinsel.com.