This summer on Penguin Teen, we’re celebrating all the amazing debut books hitting shelves and the incredible authors who wrote them! This week we’re reading Helena Fox’s How It Feels to Float. Helena Fox’s stunning, lyrical debut will leave you absolutely breathless. But why should we tell you about it when the author is here to tell you herself? Scroll down to hear from Helena about her debut!
Hi, I’m Helena, an author and creative writing mentor for young writers. I live by the sea with my kind, creative family (plus two cats and an excitable dog), in the coastal city of Wollongong, Australia. Before settling here, I lived and traveled all over the place—in Peru, England, Samoa, Europe, and the US. Growing up, I went to seven different schools. I was often new, and sometimes quite lonely, but I also made some beautiful friends along the way.
I have lived with mental health issues since I was small, and have learned to better manage those issues as I’ve grown older. With my novel, How It Feels To Float, I wanted to explore the ways in which grief and trauma can profoundly affect mental health. I wrote about a girl called Biz, whose father died when she was seven. At sixteen, she loses him again, when he stops visiting her, floating in to tell her stories. The novel is about the things that can bend and break you, and how love, care and community can bring you back to life.
I wrote this book after living through some very hard years of my own. I lost people I loved, traveled through some impossibly dark spaces, and was helped back to hope by family, friends, and wonderful mental health carers. I wanted to share what that felt like—the fracturing, the floating, and the returning to earth. While Biz’s story isn’t exactly my own, it has my story intertwined in it—a story of love and being loved, and staying to see what small, good things life might bring. This book has my heart in it, and my quiet, grateful wonder at being here, now.