Today I'm SUPER excited to be sharing an interview I had with Krista and Becca Ritchie, authors of the Addicted/Calloway Sisters series. After reading and loving these 10 books in May/June, especially how honest and thoughtful and realistic the mental health aspect of them was, I definitely wanted to ask them to be part of this event. And I'm so unbelievably happy they said yes. I hope you guys enjoy the interview! :)
Hi Krista and Becca! Thank you so much for participating in Shattering Stigmas. I’m excited to have you guys here! And before we get into the interview, can you tell us a little bit about your Addicted series for those who don’t know what it’s about? :)
We’re so excited to be a part of this event! So the Addicted series focuses on east coast elite (think Gossip Girl!) where two childhood friends pretend to be in a relationship to hide their addictions from their families. Lily Calloway is a sex addict. Loren Hale is n alcoholic. Lily & Lo’s story focuses on the realities of addiction, enabling, guilt and privilege.
I love that your books start with Lily, who is a sex addict. I can tell you that I’ve never read a book with this subject before, which was very enlightening, and something that I feel definitely needs more attention. Did you guys want to bring awareness to it, or was it something that developed as you wrote Lily’s character?
When we wrote Addicted to You, we wanted to bring light to a largely taboo subject. We’d seen the movie Shame with Michael Fassbender that focuses on male sex addiction, and we started talking with each other about the inverse. A female sex addict and what that’d mean in today’s society. That story, we realized, would be very different than Shame.
We felt so compelled by the topic that we decided to write Addicted to You, and Lily Calloway—shy, introverted, and addicted to sex—was formed from our desire to share a story that focuses on sex and women and slut-shaming and the whole gamut.
I have read only a handful of mental health books that have included therapy in them. And I was so happy to see that yours were so therapy-positive. I feel like there are still many negative stigmas attached to therapy, medication, seeking help, etc. What more would you like to see in books to help shatter these stigmas when it comes to mental health?
More therapy-positive books are very important to us as well. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness is one of our favorites, which not only shows the positive aspects of therapy but discusses the shame attached with medication and reaching out for help.
We’d love to see more characters with mental health issues pursuing therapy as an option – instead of seeking “romance” as the sole fixer. Finding your soulmate to “save you” is less realistic than finding friends, family (and yes, maybe even a soulmate!) to help support you. And they can even guide you to therapy out of love. Not failure.
Therapy is not failure. That should be noted everywhere too.
I really appreciated that your series stayed away from the love cures all message. Though love and support systems are obviously wonderful and needed, I think sometimes books unconsciously send the message that love will cure all (especially in regards to a significant other). Was that something that you were conscious about as you wrote the books? If so, how did you actively avoid this pitfall?
Yes, we focused 100% on what our series was saying about addiction and mental health issues. We never wanted Lily or Lo’s addictions to be “cured” by their love for one another. To avoid the romance pitfall, we constantly reminded ourselves about the realities they were facing. Would love really save them? No, in fact, it’s even more complicated because they love one another. They don’t want to see the other in pain, so they end up enabling each other way too often.
We also tried to drive home the message that the people around them—their support system—was absolutely crucial in helping them overcome their struggles. But it’s really not until Lily & Lo accept the help of their support system. In the end, these two individuals are fighting against their own cravings, and they’re the ones taking the physical and metaphorical steps to become healthy. It’s their choice, their dedication and their will.
They have the power to push everyone away as much as they do to bring everyone closer.
What prompted you guys to create characters with issues like Lily’s sex addiction, Lo’s alcoholism, Daisy’s PTSD and depression?
Lily – because female sex addiction wasn’t talked about often, we wanted to open up more discussion on the topic.
Lo – because we wanted readers to understand Lily in a tangible way, we decided to talk about another addiction too. People understand alcohol addiction more so than sex addiction because it’s discussed openly. So by comparing Lo’s struggles to Lily’s, it allowed Lily to have a bit more validity. We also really wanted to write about alcoholism throughout a family—and what it meant for Lo to have an alcoholic father but also be one himself.
Daisy – she’s so cheerful on the outside, and after spending so many books with Daisy as a side character, we were ready to finally dive inside her head and dig through the realities of what she was dealing with. Depression isn’t always so apparent. Daisy falls under the common and sometimes frustrating question: “you look so happy; how can you be depressed?” It almost felt like Daisy was given to us. Like she was telling us what was wrong and no one was hearing her, and we just felt so compelled to write her story as honestly as we could. During Lily & Lo’s books, she also dealt with situations that would’ve scarred most people, and we made sure to show how those situations affected her long-term.
I loved that their struggles were a part of them, but they weren’t the whole story. I think it’s so important to see that in books, to see that it’s okay to struggle and not be okay, but that life can still be so wonderful. Was it difficult to separate the issues from the story while writing?
We tried to treat the issues like undercurrents, so we knew they existed and shaped the characters, but they weren’t the life force of them.
We’d say that Addicted to You is probably the only exception. In the first book, we had to show Lily & Lo in the deepest depths of their addictions. We didn’t want to begin the series where they’re already recovering. We were like, “If we’re going to do this, we’re going all-in. And we’re showing the gritty stuff, even if that makes the characters less desirable to people.” We wanted readers to root for them, but we weren’t willing to compromise this aspect. More books have addicts as the villains. How many have addicts—while they’re addicted, not in recovery—as the heroes?
For Lily in Addicted to You, sex was almost always was on her brain. Many, many things reverted back to sex, and her addiction was running her entire life. The same way that alcohol was running Lo’s. Their addictions made their plans for the day. It told them when to go to bed. When to wake up. Who’d they see.
So the issues were always, constantly, in the reader’s face. (Spoiler alert coming up!) After Addicted to You, they start recovery and more of their desires outside of their addictions emerge. In Ricochet, Lily’s personality shines more clearly because of this.
I loved that Daisy didn’t let her depression and PTSD define her. I loved her positivity, her passion for life, her beautiful heart. It was so inspiring to see, and I think she’s someone people could easily look up to. What do you think Daisy would say to those who are struggling and/or need a pick-me-up?
We think she’d repeat the same sentiments that a very broody someone once told her. She’d say, “Keep your eyes fixed on the sun, and when it disappears, try to wait for it to return. It always does, even if it takes a while.”
What do you hope readers take away from this series?
Happiness! And from the very beginning, our hope was that readers would be able to relate to characters that struggle with very real-life issues. So we hope that readers come out of the series with a little more compassion for human beings.
And lastly, I thought it’d be fun to end the interview with some questions about one of my favorite parts of the Addicted series: the comics and magical powers and superheros that Lily and Lo especially are so fond of. And that I was fond of in the books as well. :)
If you could have any superpower, what would you want?
Oooh!! We loveeee superpowers, and we always fight over the same one! We say that “teleportation” would be the absolute 100% best. As long as there’s no fear in losing an arm or a leg in the teleporting process :D
Have you guys ever been to a Comic Con? If so, did you cosplay, and what of? I’ve never done it but it seriously sounds like so much fun!
We haven’t! Attending a Comic-Con is a life-long dream of ours. One day, we hope it’ll happen. The closest one of us (Becca) came to one was a The Vampire Diaries fan convention :D Which was glorious!
If we did go to a Comic-Con, it’d probably take us months trying to decide what to wear. We’re not very crafty in terms of making our own costumes. (The cosplay at Comic-Con events are absolutely amazing!!) It’s likely we’d go as wizards. One Ravenclaw. One Hufflepuff.
And finally, can we expect to see more nerdiness in the Like Us series? :D
Without a doubt :D The Hale family lives and breathes pop culture. Also Superheroes & Scones still exists *wags eyebrows*