The Next Chapter

How Eisha Marjara wrote her young adult novel Faerie

The novelist and screenwriter on her debut novel.
Eisha Marjara drew on her own experience of being hospitalized for anorexia to inform her book, but says most of the story is entirely fictional. (Arsenal Pulp Press)

The protagonist of Eisha Marjara's young adult novel Faerie is a teenager named Lila who desperately wants to escape her own body — a struggle that manifests as anorexia and lands her in a hospital psychiatric ward.  The screenwriter and author tells The Next Chapter how she wrote this difficult story.

During the process of writing, I really developed a way of having intimacy with the character and the story that I cannot with screenwriting. Screenwriting is a very dry read — there's very little description and it's really about moving the story forward. What I love about writing fiction is how I can really get inside the heart and mind and soul of the character and bring the reader into her world.

The main character in the book is named Lila. She is just turning 18 and decides she doesn't want to grow up, and she decides to end her life. We meet her while she's a patient at a psychiatric ward in a hospital. I've had experiences at the hospital for anorexia, so I have woven some of that into Lila's story, but much of the novel is entirely fictional. I wanted to explore how she became anorexic, and that's how I developed this creature that she has invented called a faerie. This creature developed within her as she grew older from childhood to adolescence. And it takes over her identity, and it becomes her. It's kind of a poetic metaphor for anorexia. 

Lila in this book is an extreme case, but I think that everyone, especially women and girls, have a very complicated relationship with their bodies. I think that readers will really be able to relate to that aspect.

Eisha Marjara's comments have been edited and condensed.

For more from Eisha Marjara, read Eisha Marjara: How I Wrote Faerie.