A Letter from Your Young Self
December 24

A Letter from Your Young Self

Nan Higgins blogs:

As early reviews come in for London Undone, I see a similar theme in almost every single one—this book makes people cry. It’s not entirely unexpected, as I know full well all the dramatic twists and turns in this story. It might surprise readers to know that an emotional drama was the last thing I planned to write when I got the idea for London Undone.

Late in 2017, a popular meme circulated on social media that asked the question: Given the chance, what would you tell your young self? It got me thinking, what about an opposing situation? What would happen if someone received a letter from their younger self outlining plans for the future, and that adult’s life was nothing like they thought it was going to be? Just like that, I had something I couldn’t stop thinking about, and it was keeping me up at night. I had a book idea there, and I knew exactly what I was going to write: a fun, frothy, fish out of water story in which an outlandish woman tried to put herself in the very traditional scenarios outlined in the letter from her child self, and hilarity ensued.

Almost from the moment I began writing it, the manuscript felt as if it was taking on a life of its own, and I had some choices to make. Would I try to force London Undone into the mold I’d thought would shape it, or would I nurture the unexpected turns it took from chapter one and follow where they led me? I decided I was up for an adventure and settled myself in for the ride, not knowing what to expect or how anything would turn out.

To the people who have cried reading this book, I say, I’m right there with you. I was as surprised as anyone at the ways my heart would break for my characters, and before anyone else ever saw it, London Undone had already been covered in my own tears. What took the place of the book I planned to write is a fictional unpacking of troublesome issues that are all too common in our community—familial rejection or estrangement, discrimination, and violence. More importantly to me, it’s about our strength and ability to lift each other up and overcome even the most devastating events in our lives.

Even though London Undone isn’t the great comedy I planned to write, it’s also not a tragedy. I have so much love for my LGBTQ+ community. I believe in our ability to come together to not only persevere, but to thrive and flourish. My hope is that this book honors some of the hardships we face, celebrates the ways in which we show up for each other, and confirms that even the most difficult journeys can lead to a happy ending.