Sisters Lauren and Susan

I did not arrive here unencumbered.

That’s my sister Lauren Myracle in the “Trinity Affinity” shirt. She’s a New York Times bestselling author who writes awesome books about tweens and teens. Follow her on Twitter @laurenmyracle.

The following is excerpted from a letter I wrote for the Target edition of A Soft Place to Land, after the novel was chosen as a Target “Club Pick.” In the letter, I explore how the relationship between the fictitious sisters, Ruthie and Julia, was inspired by my relationship with Lauren.

The novel you hold in your hands is about two half-sisters, Julia and Ruthie. It explores what happens to them after a tragedy, how they make sense of who they are—and what their relationship is to each other—now that their world has been flipped upside down.

Though this book explores sobering territory, I was inspired to write it in large part because of the wonderfully giddy and adoring relationship I had with my oldest sister, Lauren, back when we were girls.  Six years my senior, Lauren was full of intrigue and games. To me, she was divine. Everything that Lauren valued became priceless in my eyes, a fact she would use to her bartering advantage.  (Somehow she convinced me that her skinny and bedraggled Snoopy doll—which she had bathed—was superior to my plush, fat new one.) Lauren also had me convinced that she could cough up five-dollar bills, and read the future, with the help of her Ouija board, which would supply morbid answers to my questions.  And the games she would invent!  I still remember, while sitting at the kitchen table having a snack, Lauren declaring the liquid inside our cans of orange Fanta the only remaining rays of the now extinct sun.  We had to sip the soda drop-by-drop, conserving it, while we undertook an adventure to find a new source of energy.

A Soft Place to Land is not autobiographical. I am the youngest of six kids, not two, and my parents are alive and thriving.  And besides which, Julia and Ruthie are not stand-ins for Lauren and me.  If anything, my two fictitious sisters are flip sides of my own personality.  Still, this book lies close to my heart, for even though it is fiction, at its core it is about the love between sisters, a love I know well.

Below is a gallery of other family photos: