The Lives Of Outsiders

Barbara Boehm Miller Author Interview

When You See Her is an immersive coming-of-age novel that explores what it means to be both visible and invisible, desired and reviled, all while carving out a space in a world that feels small. What was the inspiration for the setup of your story?

I have always been fascinated by closed-off or secret societies and wanted to write a book about the lives of outsiders. The carnival sideshow seemed like the perfect setting for that. The carnival workers and sideshow performers create a spectacular display in the towns they visit, and yet they are invisible to the very people they attract. The same is true for Sarah. In her life before the carnival, she was shunned and ridiculed for her weight, but people pay money to see her in the sideshow. They edge closer to the stage, fascinated by what they see. She is both desired and reviled.

Sarah is an intriguing and well-developed character. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

When You See Her started with a plus-sized protagonist. Having experienced weight issues for all of my life, I wanted my main character to be a fat woman who lives a fulfilling and unapologetic life despite the obstacles thrust in her way. From there the story unfolded through a series of what-if questions. What if her weight were extreme enough to keep her trapped and isolated? What if she lived in a time period when there were few overweight and virtually no morbidly obese people? What if she needed to go on the run? What if her only option was to join the sideshow? What if she could find a way to live a bold and meaningful life? What if she didn’t try to fit in?

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

This book focuses on paradoxes and the pairing of opposing forces. As a large person, Sarah is visually stunning, impossible to miss. At the same time, her weight overshadows all other aspects of her physical and psychological makeup. Despite her unusual and obvious size, she remains invisible.

Sarah and the other sideshow performers and carnival workers live on the margins of the so-called acceptable society that has rejected them, or that they have left behind. This ostracism makes them very insular. In essence, being separated from the mainstream turns this group of outsiders into the ultimate insiders.

These seemingly contradictory ideas form the backdrop against which Sarah and the other characters live their lives and find their paths. The book opens with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you into something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

In one way or another, Sarah and the others all try to find a way to be their authentic selves.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Right now, I’m finalizing a book I wrote about a troubled family, crushed together in the isolation of the Covid-19 pandemic. The father is a survivalist. The mother is having an affair, and the daughter is incandescent with her desire to move away from the small town where they live. As the world around them erupts with grief and fear, will they break apart or find a new path forward? This book examines the corrosive effects of loneliness and what it means to be judged by others.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | GoodReads | Instagram | Bookbub

Trapped and isolated in small-town Wisconsin, Sarah wants nothing more than to blend in and lead a normal life away from her abusive brother. Weighing five hundred pounds and having no job or formal education, however, makes this almost impossible.

When Sarah commits an unthinkable act, she seizes the only opportunity available to escape the consequences of her actions. She contacts the carnival man who previously offered her a job as a sideshow act. Burying her guilt, Sarah leaves home and begins performing under the stage name Lola Rolls.

Traveling from town to town, Lola wonders if it’s possible to hide in plain sight and truly outrun her past. She builds lasting friendships along the way, and as the quality of her performances improves, she starts on a path to self-reliance and self-acceptance.

Set in the late 1970s, When You See Her is an immersive page-turner that explores what it means to be both visible and invisible, simultaneously desired and reviled, while carving out a space in a too-small world.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on January 23, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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