Do you remember when you first felt like an adult? The boundary lines of what it means to be “an adult” have evolved with each generation as our responsibilities vary from the one before, and the expectations of our age are redefined.
In debut author Pip Finkemeyer’s first book Sad Girl Novel, the 27-year-old protagonist Kim is a vehicle to consider those evolutions and how we arrive at a place of being healthy, self-aware contributors to the world.
Kim’s bumpy road to getting there is “the point of fiction”, Pip told Hope 103.2’s UNDISTRACTED podcast.
“[The point] isn’t to write a character who’s beyond reproach, it’s to write a character who’s deeply flawed so that we might recognise ourselves in them,” Pip said.
Writing the book mirrored Pip’s own life in part as, like Kim, she left Australia for Europe to find new community and inspiration and see if she could realise her creative dreams.
“I moved to Berlin [for 5 years] because I had always wanted to write, but I’d never been able to find time here,” Pip said.
“A lot of creative people flock there and I did a lot of people watching in Berlin which I think is reflected in the novel.”
The book also taps into the trending “sad girl” genre to explore identity formation, friendship, neurosis and what we look to for validation and meaning.
“I think in the Sad Girl Novel in general, the protagonist is often someone who’s not just sad but maybe bad or maybe mad,” Pip said.
“They’re doing something they’re not supposed to be doing, especially as a young woman.
“It’s a sort of rebellion – a very quiet rebellion – and I think that’s why this type of protagonist has become popular in the last few years.
“We’re so policed in our behaviour in our everyday lives that I don’t think it’s a surprise that we like fictional characters who aren’t.
“We get to play around with [rebellion] in the safe haven of fiction.”
The character of Kim enables us to reflect on what’s influencing our decision making and, as Pip sees it, the downfall of wanting to people please.
“People waste a lot of time with that,” Pip said.
“As an aspiring writer you really value external feedback more than internal because your internal sense of self doesn’t mean as much.
“[That’s] problematic because you shouldn’t value the opinion of strangers more than yourself or people wo are close to you.
“That’s problematic because you shouldn’t value the opinion of strangers more than yourself or people wo are close to you,” – author Pip Finkemeyer
“But, I also think there’s something very human in wanting to be loved – and that’s in the book – but love comes in all sorts of different packages.”
Listen to the full episode of UNDISTRACTED with guest Pip Finkemeyer in the player above or wherever you get your podcasts.