Ashley Herring Blake on Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea
More than eighty percent of the world’s oceans remain unexplored. To me, that’s a staggering number, almost overwhelming, to think of all those deeps no human has touched, all the possibilities we haven’t even thought of yet.
All those mysteries.
When I sat down to write my next middle grade novel, I knew I wanted to tell a story about loss, about life after the unthinkable happens. What do you do? How do you actually move on, as it seemed so easy for others to do? For me, a woman whose own parents were both dead by her early thirties, those questions had always been a mystery. I wanted my character, Hazel, to grapple with these same questions, and I could think of no better setting for her than the deep blue sea—the most beautiful, dangerous, and mysterious element on our planet.
In the book, Hazel has lost a parent to an accident, but she’s lost much more than that—she’s lost herself, she’s lost the ability to see possibility, to hope. I knew what that felt like and I knew there were many kids out there who did too. The task of coming back from the loss of a loved one seems insurmountable, impossibly even, until you realize the truth.