When I was sixteen, I almost drowned. It wasn’t a terribly traumatic experience, but it birthed a great deal of creativity.
I was floating in a lake in the Catskills and drifted too far. When I tried to stand, I sank like I had concrete for feet. Everything became exceptionally clarified. Whereas I would never have dunked in the lake with my eyes open under normal circumstances, I kept them wide open as I sank further and further.
After the initial struggle to go above water, I didn’t panic. I accepted the moment and the likely outcome. I watched my hands break the water and I watched as the dozens of children and families clogging the lake around me floated past, unaware.
Yes, of course someone pulled me out. I’m not writing from beyond the veil.
But that moment, brief as it was, settled in my mind. It became a painting (that’s it, partially, on top).
The painting became a tattoo.
And now it’s a book. My new novel, Behind the Lie, started as an image of a teenage girl drowning in an upstate lake. At first, I thought of her as The Mermaid, and I kept asking myself who she was. Turns out, she became someone both completely different from me, and yet not so much different.
Behind the Lie is out February 8th. Come back to this site February 1st for a chance to win a signed copy throughout the entire month.
What about you? What has happened to you that has haunted you creatively? I really want to know. This is not a rhetorical question. These are the kind of conversations that make this whole social media thing worthwhile.
Emilya Naymark is the author of the novels Hide in Place and Behind the Lie.
Her short stories appear in A Stranger Comes to Town, edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.