Guest Post: R.D. Stevens Talks About The Journal.

Hey Bookworms!

Today, we have with us with us, R.D. Stevens as a guest! He'll be sharing with us some fine details about his book, The Journal. Before handing over the reins to him, let me introduce you to him!

R. D. Stevens grew up in Kent in the 1980s and, after studying for his Philosophy degree, travelled the world for two years. Upon his return to the UK, Stevens worked in the charity sector briefly before training as a teacher and completing his MA in Religious Education. He currently lives in London with his wife, young son and dog, as works as a Head of Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at a nearby secondary school.

Now that you know a little bit about him, I'll let him take over! Over to you, Mr. Stevens!

What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here? How should I live my life?

These are questions that everybody considers at some point. It is part of the human condition to question the nature of our lives; we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. Most of the time we might ignore these questions, or not really consider them. Alternatively, we might push them to the back of our minds, thinking them unimportant in the hectic schedules of our day to day lives. However, as Albert Camus pointed out, these questions and the feelings that they evoke can push in and abruptly occur to us at any point, even just walking around a street corner or hanging out the washing. At any time we can be struck by the question of what is this really all about? And that feeling of not knowing why we are here and what’s going to happen can be quite powerful.

These questions can feel even more significant when we are on the cusp of adulthood, a time when emotions can run high, we are trying to work out who we are and are still yet to put together the pieces of our lives. When I began to write ‘The Journal’ I wanted to try to create a character who would capture some of the naivety, anxiety, curiosity and idealism that comes with facing these questions at such a delicate time of life. After some different ideas, I settled on Ethan Willis, a bright, fragile eighteen-year-old boy who often struggles and feels frightened by the uncertainties that life throws at him. In ‘The Journal’, I chose to really bring out Ethan’s insecurities by making him have to go look for his absent elder sister who disappeared and was last seen on an adventure in South East Asia.  

Thinking of the old adage ‘write what you know’, in setting Ethan’s search for his sister in South East Asia, I was able to draw from my experiences years ago as a backpacker in the region. In ‘The Journal’, the setting acts as a character in its own right, always present throughout Ethan’s journey and always pressing him to do more and challenge himself to address the questions that he faces.

Faced with the disappearance of his sister, with whom he has a particularly strong sibling bond, Ethan sets out to follow in her footsteps and embarks on a journey without a clear goal in sight, unaware that his life is about to change rapidly and irrevocably. The closer he gets to discovering the truth about his sister, the more he begins to understand himself, as well as his place in the world. But if he learns of a place where she might finally be, will he be ready to find her?

‘The Journal’ is a coming of age novel that, hopefully, gives the reader the opportunity to take some time out to pause and think about some of those existential quandaries that we all face. So, if you fancy a thought-provoking read that allows you to escape to the world of backpacking in South East Asia (and are secretly wishing you too could throw caution to the wind and lose yourself on a beach somewhere in Thailand) then ‘The Journal’ might be for you…!

Want to know more about The Journal? Here's a little sneak peek!

What do you do when you lose the only thing that you truly care for?

Ethan Willis is a confused 18 year old who struggles with the uncertainties of life and has just embarked on a quest to find his elder sister, Charlotte, who disappeared whilst travelling in South East Asia. His quest to locate her throws him into the backpacking world and, following what could be his sister’s ghost, he is taken on a journey through the countryside of Cambodia, into the remotest parts of Laos and finally to the party islands of Thailand.

When Ethan finds his sister’s journal by chance, he traces her footsteps. The travel journal, along with flashbacks to their childhood, reveals Charlotte’s true nature and her relationship with Ethan, taking the young man on an existential journey.

With the help of Elodie, a fragile and complex girl with whom he has developed a meaningful relationship, and his own growing sense of self-esteem, Ethan begins to question his relationship with his sister and why she disappeared. When he finally learns of a place in which he might be able to locate his sister, will he be ready to find her?

It was a pleasure to have you over Mr. Stevens! I wish you the best of luck for all your future endeavours!

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