Trying Not to Disappear by Katie Hurse

Between mounting tensions with her mother, best friends who won’t stop kissing each other and the world’s longest bucket list, Sunday is about to have the most eventful summer of her life. 

And then, of course, there’s Hugo...

 

Afraid of what the future might look like if she doesn’t seek help, Sunday Bowman begins therapy for her Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. When her favourite author announces a memoir-writing contest, Sunday decides to enter and write about AFRID.  Simultaneously, Sunday has started speaking to Hugo online. After encouragement from her friends, she agrees to go on a date with him. Sunday is horrified by how well the date goes and decides to break the romance off. She doesn’t believe Hugo could love her if he knew the truth. Instead, he becomes a part of her friendship group and they work together to complete a Bucket List that holds a very special place in Hugo’s heart…

But Sunday struggles to keep things platonic, and as one half of her is falling in love, the rest is falling apart…

Can Sunday save her relationships, her story, and most importantly herself, before the sun sets on summer? 

About the Author

Trying Not to Disappear is written by Katie Hurse, a 23-year-old mental health advocate and golden retriever enthusiast from Bristol. Katie has a first-class degree in English Literature and Creative Writing from The University of Birmingham and an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University.

Trying Not to Disappear is Katie’s passion project. It focuses on Sunday, a teenage girl who lives with Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, the eating disorder Katie has had since childhood. After a lifetime of searching for herself within the pages of books, Katie finally found the courage to write her story in the hope it will help other young people suffering with ARFID feel seen and heard.

Katie is extremely passionate about mental health activism, feminism, YA literature, book blogging and, more recently, body positivity after suffering two near-death experiences in hospital and being left with scars and a stoma bag. Katie is already planning a novel about her experience as a young woman with a stoma and another, inspired by the most important women in her life (her mother and big sister) about cancer & health anxiety. Having lived with mental illness and physical disability, Katie is proud to have produced her debut #OwnVoices novel and intends to write many, many more.

When Katie isn’t writing, she can usually be found rereading Harry Potter for the millionth time, drinking cups of tea and watching Gogglebox.

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Trying Not to Disappear by Katie Hurse, introduced by Olivia Collard

Katie Hurse’s Trying Not to Disappear is a beautiful, hopeful YA story about a girl who is stronger than her illness. It follows our charming and funny hero, Sunday, who lives with the much-misunderstood eating disorder ARFID, as she endeavours to write her own autobiography to help people better understand the condition. Often dismissed as a ‘picky eater,’ Sunday suffers from intense anxiety attacks when she encounters certain food groups, resulting, as she sees it, in her missing out on the best years of her life. She thinks of herself as a burden, a waste of other people’s time. But as the story progresses, Sunday learns to walk alongside her illness and that, despite her own misgivings, she is entirely loveable and already much-loved.

In this novel, Hurse tackles difficult themes with such a poignant balance of hope, humour and heartbreak, it’s guaranteed to bring a tear to your eye. We’re reminded of the value of rock-solid friendship, our own strength, and unconditional love. Her descriptions of Sunday’s encounters with food are so vivid, you could never consider her just a ‘picky eater.’ She shows the reader that it’s normal to need and seek help, and friendship is never skin-deep.

What was your inspiration for this story?

I wanted to write Trying Not To Disappear because it’s the book I wish I could have read when I was younger; a story about Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. For young people who are bookworms, like I was (and still am), seeing yourself represented and acknowledged on the page makes you feel less alone, less abnormal. I wanted to write a book that provided that kind of safe space.

What was your most memorable moment on the MA?

My most memorable moment on the MA is definitely the first time I got feedback on Trying Not To Disappear from my Writing Workshop Two friends. They were so kind, they cared so much about Sunday’s story, they convinced me it was a book that was necessary. Even on the really hard days, when I couldn’t squeeze out a single word, I thought of that workshop (and, quite frankly, all of the workshops with that gorgeous group) and didn’t allow myself to give up. I was so afraid to share the story of Sunday’s ARFID because really, in part, it’s my story too and they gave me the confidence to write the story I’ve always needed.

What is the most important thing you learned on the MA?

That when you’re writing the right story, it grows of its own accord. I’ve never stuck with a project for this long before, so I’ve never had a chance to watch a story of mine begin to grow its own legs. I had meetings with Lucy Christopher where I’d just experience these story-epiphanies! Suddenly a character who I thought was just some background irritant was absolutely integral to Sunday’s ultimate development as the protagonist! Suddenly the bucket list that I’d thought would be central to Sunday’s story was revealed to me as the main plot in Hugo’s novel, not this one. There were things about my story that even I didn’t know, and I’ve loved discovering them!

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

I just live for the days when I feel ridiculously inspired to write. When scenes and speech and secrets are just pouring out of my brain. It sucks that these days are so much rarer than the ‘writer’s block this story is never going to be finished’ days, but the chapters you write under the influence of inspiration are so much fun to go back and read on those soberly uninspired occasions.

What do you like doing when you’re not writing?

I guess it’s a huge cliché to say read, but I’d be lying if I didn’t include it. Give me Young Adult contemporary (and also anything witchy) and I’ll inhale it; I love to blog about books too. And when I can manage to drag myself away from the allure of stories, I love to exercise, and spend time with the people I love. (Most of all, my giant, fluffy cat, Tilly – she’s probably both my biggest fan and critic!)

What is your top piece of advice for aspiring writers?

If you can’t forget about a story idea, it’s probably the book you should be writing. If you’ve never read the story of your dreams, it’s probably the book you should be writing. And if you want to learn about the publishing world while you become a better writer, a better reader and make wonderful friends? Apply for the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People.

What was your favourite book as a child?

My favourite book as a child, somewhat weirdly considering I read so few of them now, was actually a classic: Little Women. I loved reading about sisters, about Christmas, about a girl writing a story. I still do. In fact, this is making me want to reread it now!

What place in fiction do you most want to visit?

Right, well, I know it’s a huge cliché, and just the most expected answer ever, but it has to be Hogwarts. I can only apologise for my lack of ingenuity!