Tonya & Josie & fear

Josie Harper is the main character of my YA scifi Anomaly (Entangled TEEN, 2014) and the coming sequel, Enigma. I’ve been asked again and again what Josie and I have in common. Well, it obviously isn’t our looks. Josie was inspired in 2013/14 by Kat McNamara, now the lead of the tv show Shadowhunters on Freeform. (Kat has read Anomaly and I’ve had the honor of meeting this crazy-talented and sweet, young woman a couple times.)

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I do, however, share a couple characteristics with Josie. For example, we are both unapologetic scifi nerds. We love all things Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, and more, specifically Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). We both have an interest in science, but she’s far more cerebral than I.

One of our biggest similarities, though, is of a more serious nature. Josie and I have both faced fear. I’m not giving away any spoilers if you haven’t read Anomaly by saying that Josie has a fear of water. Her fear was induced by a loved one drowning. I could incorporate her feelings into the story because I, too, had a fear of water.

I was never really comfortable in water. My mom wasn’t comfortable herself when I was a kid and my parents couldn’t afford swim lessons. I doggy paddled when I did swim and wouldn’t usually venture into water over my chest. When I was a junior in high school my uncle drowned while fishing, which exacerbated my fear of water. I got through water situations (pool parties, trips to the ocean, etc) with a smile on my face, but inside, terror reigned. Water was a dangerous force of nature, one I didn’t feel I was equipped to handle. Years later (1999), my fiance (now my husband) tried to teach me how to swim so we could snorkel on our honeymoon. Simply sticking my face in the water? Suffocating. Trusting that breathing tube? Ha! Let’s just say it took months of practice in a swimming pool. And I still couldn’t swim. Thank Thor I floated well.

Fast forward to spring of 2014. I had two boys whom I made sure had taken swim lessons and were comfortable in water. I still didn’t care for boats and my anxiety was out of control when my family was in a boat. My fear was paralyzing. What was it about water that I hated? I’d realized I was facing my mortality. I was looking death in the face each time I stuck my head in the water. It was me versus death. And I needed to model for my kids that fear can’t control you; I had to face my fear.

I signed up for private swim lessons. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t fast, it wasn’t fun. Every time I got in the water I though I was going to have an anxiety attack (that’s a post for another time). But after months of practice, I could swim. I could jump in deep water. I could tread water.

The last two summers I’ve taken my kids swimming – by myself. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me it is. A few weeks ago, I went to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri with my family and in-laws. We were on a boat for two days. We swam in the lake and in the pool. Yes, I still have mini freak-outs. Yeah, I’m still over-protective about my kids in and around water, but I’ve come so far. And I will continue to get more comfortable in water because this is a fear I will conquer. Am I over it? No. But I will fight this fear head on, just as I do with many other fears.

Being fearful of something DOES NOT make me weak, it makes me human. And being brave DOES NOT mean not being fearful. It means being fearful and doing it anyway.

Have you faced any fears like Josie and me?

More info on Enigma announced 8/8/16! Love & hugs!

xo t

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