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We’ve all heard someone say that real life can be scarier than fiction and I think most people would agree. For me, the most horrific day of my life was March 24, 2006, when my little brother was killed in a car accident. 

As a writer, I spent years trying to process my grief by writing that story. I tried to write about how terrible that first day was, I tried to write about my brother, I tried to write about the pain that followed. I could never get very far and quickly realized that a memoir just wasn’t going to work. It hurt too much and I didn’t know if I’d ever really want to put that story out into the world. 

But then one day, I was re-reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. It’s one of his longer ones and it had been a while since I’d read it. I found that I remembered almost none of the details, beyond the general plot and the thought occurred to me – what if a book changed every time you read it? And I couldn’t shake that thought. I couldn’t stop thinking about how creepy it would be if a book were different every time you opened its pages. 

And the idea for my first novel was born. 

I’ve been a lover of scary stories for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I consumed Goosebumps and all of R.L. Stine’s body of work at a breakneck pace. I still remember the first time I read “The Green Ribbon” in Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I stole my dad’s copy of The Gunslinger long before I probably should have been reading it and snuck behind the couch while my parents were watching It. 

Since then, I’ve been chasing the high of getting truly creeped out. I think I’ve actually made myself pretty numb to most horror, so when I set out to write a book, I wanted to write one that would scare me. And I started off great! One of the first scenes I wrote honestly made me look over my shoulder. 

I dug deep into everything I knew and loved about horror; I wanted to make readers turn their lights back on, to question that noise they heard, and I wanted a monster worth fighting. I wanted a premise that was believable (as much as supernatural horror can be believed!) but also encouraged character development. 

But it was when I dug into the character development that something emerged alongside the scary story I was trying to tell. 

Before I really knew what was happening, the main character was Lara, a woman who’d lost her brother. She was a mess, having a hard time processing her grief and functioning in her role as a wife and mother. She went looking for escape within the pages of a book. She felt broken. She was me. 

In the months and years after my brother died, I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to go about my life. He’d died suddenly, leaving behind a one-year-old son and a family that felt lost without him. I did my best to take care of myself, and my husband, and our growing family, but in reality, I wasn’t doing a great job. Eventually, after lots of hard conversations with my husband and therapy, I found a way through, but it remains something I have to work on almost every single day. 

Weight of Memory ended up pretty creepy, but it’s also an examination of grief, and, more importantly, healing. It also sees the main character fight to try to find a way back to herself, even while in pain.  It wasn’t how I intended it to turn out, but it was very much the book I needed to write. 

I hope it creeps people out. But I also hope people identify with it, especially those who have lost a sibling or someone they love. I hope they see some of their own fight to survive in Lara.

Because really, what is horror but stories about fighting to live and fighting to not be dragged under by our monsters?

Kristina Brune has worked as a copywriter and marketer for 10 years, with businesses and entrepreneurs around the world, including digital influencers, small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the Midwest. Her work has been published in Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, Inc.com, and various other publications. Her first novel, Weight of Memory, debuted March 30, 2021, and is available everywhere you can buy books. Follow her on Instagram for more information and book news. 

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