We had the pleasure of speaking with debut author Adele Paula Royce about her new release, The Little Black Book of Suicide Notes. While the title might seem dark, the book was written as an inspiration to many going through difficult times, in the hopes that those who feel like they’re at the end of the road might find a way back to a new journey.
BookTrib: What is the The Little Black Book of Suicide Notes about?
Adele Paula Royce: The novel is comprised of 27 “suicide notes” written by a woman on a spiritual journey from life to death to rebirth. They aren’t suicide notes left behind. They’re a series of reflections—journal entries of a sort—that chart her emotional and spiritual journey as she confronts the question of whether or not life is worth living. It gives you an intimate look into the experience of hopelessness through her journey and highlights her desire to find a way out.
BT: What inspired you to write this debut novel?
APR: I wanted to share my story with the world to let people who are suffering know that there is still hope. After years of spiritual searching, I had a realization that there is no cure for suffering. Suffering is just part of being alive. But just because you’re suffering doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and find fulfillment. People put so much pressure on themselves to find the cure for suffering, but it doesn’t exist. Through the story and the protagonist, I wanted to show people that you can find a way to understand and deal with the inherent suffering of existence and find your way to the other side. The suicidal tendency is based on a feeling of hopelessness, and the feeling of not being able to experience anything beyond that feeling. It’s been my experience that once you realize what is really going on in life, you can then begin to get more of a handle on how to relate to it and make peace with that truth.
APR: The short answer is a little of both. I mean all fiction is based on life experiences, right? Like a lot of people I’ve had my ups and downs and I have struggled at times. But I found a way out and I wanted to share that with people.
BT: You say in the introduction to the book that you’re trying to show people how to live by showing them how not to live. What do you mean by that?
APR: Many of us live in what I call “a state of false emergency.” That basically means that inside we are full of fear and anxiety and are all tied up in knots, even though on the outside, in most instances, we aren’t actually under any kind of threat. These states of false emergency are at the root of so much suffering in people’s lives, and in the book I’m trying to bring light to the situation. I’m trying to show what it’s like to feel that state of emergency inside to a significant degree, but still find a way through all of it.
BT: You’ve said that this book isn’t just a book about suicide, it’s also a spiritual journey. What do mean by that?
APR: Well suicide is a complex issue, and there are many different dimensions of it: mental illness, brain chemistry, family life, our social structure, etc. But one of the elements that I find often gets left out of the conversation is the spiritual and moral dimension of suicide. From one perspective, suicide is the ultimate state of hopelessness. It comes from feeling trapped and as if there’s no way out. But I’ve found that even in spite of that hopelessness, it’s possible to find a kind of internal freedom that no one can touch. It’s a kind of power that isn’t subject to any kind of external condition. That freedom is not something you cannot surgically remove. The book is about finding the path to internal freedom.
BT: What would you say is the most common misperception about suicide in our society?
APR: It’s that so many people associate suicide with craziness, or insanity. This creates a kind of stigmatism that suicidal feelings are inappropriate and if you have them, then something must be wrong with you. These feelings of guilt and shame only make things worse. So I think it’s important for us, as a society, to be more open about hopelessness and suicidal feelings, because they’re on the rise. . . and they’re probably not going away. We need to create a culture of openness where people can honestly share and explore their inner struggles so they can learn to cope with them in healthy ways.
BT: What do you hope readers will come away from the book with?
Hope! I want people to realize that there is a way out other than a destructive one. Once you realize what living an enslaved life is, you can then begin the journey of coming back to life in a new way.
For more about the book and Adele Paula Royce’s writing process, we have an author video interview with Adele Paula Royce coming soon!