LauraKrughoff_colorThis is a novel about mental illness and gender passing. Pretty dicey material for a debut effort, don’t you think?

I suppose. The issues surrounding mental illness, and the very separate issues surrounding our understanding of gender expression and gender identity, seem to be coming to the forefront of our social consciousness lately. Yet they’re both still taboo topics in many ways. Both communities—the community of people living with mental illness, either personally or due to the fact that a loved one has a mental illness, and the community of sexual and gender minorities—are becoming increasing visible and vocal, especially when it comes to how their members are represented in pop culture. I never set out to speak for anyone in this novel. I just had an idea for a story I wanted to tell and ran with it. The fact that the subject matter might be dicey never occurred to me. Literally. Until I realized people were going to get the chance to read it. 

MyBrothersNameCoverFinalI did not grow up in my brother’s shadow.  I grew up in his light.  I have been John’s sister since the very beginning.  He was not yet four when I was born, but he claims to remember the event.  He remembers naming me.  He tells the story of my naming as if that morning still shimmers, a perfect mirage, in his memory.  Our father dropped John off at an elderly neighbor’s house on the afternoon before I was born.  John says it was terrible to have been left behind, that the woman was strange and her house dusty, that he feared our parents would not return for him.  He says he thought about me a great deal, that he imagined me just as I turned out to be.