When I was growing up, my family moved every two to three years because my dad was in the United States Air Force. Since he was born and raised in Hawaii and all his family was there, he made sure our family was mostly stationed on Oahu. However, when we weren’t in Hawaii, we lived in England.
When I was in grade school my family returned to Hawaii after having lived four years in England. During the years we were abroad, I had picked up an English accent. The kids at my new school in Hawaii poked fun of my funny speech. It made it difficult to make friends. I was tempted to shy away. It’s always hard to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
I complained about being a loner to my mom. She sat me down and told me that if I wanted friends then I needed to go out and make friends. I needed to be kind and friendly to everyone.
Being an extrovert, I put her challenge to the test and found that she was right. Many returned my offer of friendship.
Unfortunately, my very introverted sister didn’t have the same luck that I did. Her shyness stole her words. Kids mistook her quietness for snobbishness.
When I was writing Britta’s character, I often thought about how much harder it was for my sister to make friends. I considered how others judged her when they didn’t really understand her.
That loneliness helped me understand Britta’s solitude, and how Britta would’ve felt after her father died and she was an outcast. I wanted the theme of making friends and needing friends to carry throughout the book. I think friendship is something that we all instinctively need in our lives. Britta is no exception.
Britta likes to think that she doesn’t need anyone, when really, she needs them more than she knows.