'What We Never Say:' An Interview with Author Paulette Stout
Paulette Stout's What We Never Say is an empowering read that is both powerful and intensely personal. The novel examines abuse from an often-overlooked perspective. It’s depiction of trauma and its effects on survivors and those close to them is remarkably realistic. The themes of finding your voice and reclaiming your own power are profound. Stout's writing is fast-paced, refreshing, and daring. What We Never Say is a must-read!
To learn more about the story behind the story, read A Good Book To End The Day’s interview with the author below.
Describe your journey to becoming a published author in eight words or less.
A wild ride to empowering books.
Tell us about What We Never Say and the inspiration behind the novel.
What We Never Say flips the familiar #MeToo story on its head by focusing on a male survivor and his powerful female aggressor. At the tail end of the #MeToo movement, male victims began to come forward. But their stories went largely ignored, or worse, drew snickers, despite their details sounding eerily similar to the tragic stories of women victims. That unfair discrepancy stuck with me. We all have male friends, brothers, fathers and sons that we care about. Kyle, the protagonist in What We Never Say, was the perfect muse to explore this issue. He’s seemingly strong, handsome, and the farthest thing from the poster-child of a survivor. But I think that’s precisely why the story is resonating with readers.
Why was it important for you to share the #MeToo movement from the perspective of a male victim in this story?
As women gain more power and influence in our society—as we rightly should—we likewise must be held to the same conduct standard if we misbehave. Too often, women are infantilized, treated like children who don’t have agency over our choices—good and bad. To me, that’s insulting. While I wanted to explore the character journey of Kyle, I likewise wanted to explore the motivations of a villain character like Jane. She’s unapologetic, confident, and clings to power with an iron grip. Those can be tremendously good qualities, but I wanted to explore that darker side of ambition and power as well.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself while writing this book?
I thoroughly enjoy tackling the weighty themes often reserved for literary works. However, I convey them with bingeable prose, authentic characters, and tension-filled plots that don’t let up until the last page. I think there’s an appetite for stories with a deeper message that are still thoroughly entertaining. I’ve given myself permission to play in this sandbox.
Do you have any other projects in the works at this time?
I’m about one-third one with the first draft of my next book. This one will tackle race and class, following the character Barbara Washington from Love, Only Better and What We Never Say. I’m working with two dynamic sensitivity readers, so I am sure to craft a story true to the Black female experience. I’m loving where the story is going so far. I’m also working on the audiobook for What We Never Say and hope to have that out in early 2023.
What does literary success look like to you?
I’d love to build a loyal following of readers who appreciate the types of stories I tell. Overtime, as my backlist builds, I hope to keep them wondering what topic I’ll tackle next.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
You can’t edit a blank page, so focus on completing your draft before tinkering with the prose. There’s really no sense since whole scenes, acts and characters may get chopped entirely before your manuscript is done. And that leads into my second point: don’t get too attached to your writing. Words exist to serve the story. If they don’t, they have to go. If you stubbornly cling to your poetic sentence construction, chances are your story will suffer.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
I’m super active on social media, so you can reach me on Instagram and Facebook @paulettestoutauthor, on Twitter @StoutContent, and you can always find all things Paulette (including some free reads) on my website.
Thanks so much for being part of the A Good Book To End The Day family! Is there
anything else you’d like to add?
Briefly for your readers: Book reviews are the lifeblood of authors. If you like a book, any book, please pop onto the website where you bought it and leave a rating and/or a review. You have no idea how much that means to the writers, so thanks in advance!