Drama

Broken

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Today is Emily Zylaz’s birthday. This is the day that she has chosen to kill herself. After struggling for many years to cope with the roller-coaster of mental illness, a devastating failed marriage, and a soul-destroying career that is going nowhere, she’s giving up.

Feeling like the only solution to all of her problems is to take her own life, Emily plans to hang herself at midnight. She believes no one will care that she’s dead, that she won’t be missed, and that everyone will be better off without her and her fickle moods.

As we journey alongside Emily, counting down the hours on her last day alive, we explore the twisted labyrinth of her troubled mind and learn why she so desperately wants to die.

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Listen to the ABC Radio interview about Broken

Reviews

Traci Sanderson on June 11, 2015 Five Stars – ‘Broken’ doesn’t always mean irreparable!
**As a full disclosure, I was given free copy of this book in exchange for my honest thoughts … honestly, now that I’ve read it, if I’d not recently depleted my Amazon credit balance, I would be PURCHASING a copy of it just to give it the legitimate rating it deserves! This is a gripping, emotional tale of one woman’s journey of self-discovery. I was skeptical at the beginning, not knowing how the author was going to offer an entire book about a single day’s worth of thoughts and actions of the main character, Emily, who has decided to end her life on this particular day. To my delight, my original ambivalence about the pages being filled with depressing, suicidal musings, was unfounded.Though some of it is a bit redundant, the author adds another important element to the story with each chapter. Each day is like a mental journal entry until the story finally unfolds in the most surprising, amazing way that I never saw coming! The writing is engaging and precise. The most impressive thing is the way the author weaves occasional, brief flashbacks into Emily’s current thoughts without needing to devote an entire chapter or section to these memories. It’s easy to follow and breaks up the current events in an enchanting way that adds helpful backstory on the characters. The one thing that kind of threw me was the way the author waited until the very end to describe Emily’s appearance in detail. I can see why, but for the majority of the time, I had to conjure her up in my own mind. And she did not match the image I had created. Though this book is fiction, one doesn’t have to have any experience with suicide or mental illness to connect with this story. Anyone who has ever experienced loss, death, or even despair could be enlightened by it. The truth of the matter is, we are all broken in some way or another. I will definitely be reading more from this author!

Kat Caffee on May 13, 2015
Five stars – Well handled, engrossing book with a tough subject to work with
“I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review. I like stories that take you on an emotional roller coaster ride while you’re reading through them. However, I do not like tales of suicide or self-mutilation, and so when I was asked for a review of this book, I almost declined before I even started. Once I opened the cover, I was in even more doubt, and settled in for a difficult read. Then Roni turned the tables on me, and sent me flying through the pages. This is not an easy read, as there are atrocities in the character’s life that she has to deal with on her own, and with very little support from her family. Yet, even when the story dives into the darkest actions one human can inflict on another, it is handled with simplicity, dignity, and as much elegance as possible while staying true to the story. This is a very fast paced, tightly written story designed from the first sentence to keep the pages turning and make it hard to put down. The glimmers of light that are cast out when everything seems blackest provide a new level of tension, along with a heightened element of “What will happen next?” The narrative alone carried this story for me, as I saw very little in the way of character development. Usually, when introduced, the characters have to grow into their final person, yet in this book, you are introduced to the final person first. The rest of the tale is a series of flashback regressions that explain how this person got to where they are. Definitely an interesting approach, and one I haven’t seen done so well before. When the history of the character has been set out, the story begins stitching the pieces together, showing how the jigsaw fits together to make a complete picture. It is here where the word-smithing of Roni really gets to gleam. She has shown each of the facets of the characters involved in the history at one point or another, and now she shows the composite. At no point through the tale do any of the characters feel like a paper cut-out, even if you can’t tell just where the depth is… yet. Though it is a hard read (content wise), I look forward to coming back and reading again when I can pry the 8 to 10 hours it will take to get through it. Just to see how many layers Roni has tucked away between these covers.”

VIDEO Review from Ann Quinn on May 7, 2015
Five stars – It’s a fantastic story
“I wanted to see if [the author] could cover the topic without being disrespectful to people who suffer depression and I feel she did a fantastic job. She’s very sensitive to the topic. I’m trying not to cry… I highly recommend it.” (Video is 8 minutes)

Kelly on May 6, 2015
Five stars – A great read that will get under your skin
“I’ve read several of Roni’s books and I think this is the best so far. Detailing what is to be the last day of protagonist Emily Zylaz’s life, hour-by-hour, Roni takes you on a journey into the psyche of a damaged person wanting to be well, but seeing no alternative to suicide. Although this premise may sound depressing or off-putting to those not used to the subject matter, readers should not be fooled into thinking this book fits into any particular genre. It is at once stark, moving, funny, horrifying, thoughtful and delightful. Moving at a fast pace and at the length of a novella, don’t be surprised if you read it in one or two sittings. Emily is a complex character, and the author makes sure we get to know her properly, even if only for a short time. Roni really inhabits Emily’s skin, and as such Emily will get under yours. You will wish you knew her in real life, so that you could be friends.”

Zan Steadham on April 26, 2015
Five stars
“Broken is infused with an absolutely authentic voice that gives the hidden thoughts of the abused and emotionally ill a chance to speak for themselves. A must read.”

Denis Vukosav [AMAZON TOP 100 REVIEWER] on April 24, 2015
Five stars – It’s a good day to die.
“Broken, a novel written by Roni Askey-Doran, is another example that proves how well-made pieces can be found in portfolios of smaller independent publishers – the thrilling story full of expectations, twists and turns, together with excellent atmosphere will keep reader on the edge of the seat until the very last page. The author introduces reader to Emily with the very first shocking sentence that immediately attracts attention – “It’s a good day to die.” Emily plans to hang herself right at midnight, precisely on her birthday. The reader will follow the main character through her whole (last?) day, hour after hour, while slowly we learn about all the reasons that have led her to such decision. Emily speaks about all the kinds of abuse and sorrow she endured during her painful life, starting with her father abandoning her, being alone and unloved by her sister and mother, sexually molested by her uncle, and raped and beaten by her ex-husband. We also find out about the loss of her baby, problems at work, all of which brought this woman to the edge that she finally and irreversible wants to pass. While slowly the puzzle of Emily’s life is put, we also learn about people for which we begin to believe or hope will save Emily by providing hope that all is not lost and that she deserves another chance. And as the night progresses and hours pass, the reader can’t wait to find out the outcome of this story, while more secrets and shocking twists are being unfolded… Given the author’s style it will be hard to resist turning this novel’s one page after the other, wondering what is going to happen next. Though this is not author’s first novel, it’s the first that I had the opportunity to read, and I’m glad about that. Roni Askey-Doran created a very interesting suspense thriller novel that is both characterized by distinctive style, provocative subject and great pace. Both her main character and her story overall are well-developed that make ‘Broken’ an appealing title worth recommendation. Therefore, Roni Askey-Doran with ‘Broken’ made a real page turner that will both keep you interested and excited, guessing about the outcome of the story and the fate of main character – a novel certainly worth reader’s time that shows the real gems can be found at independent publishers if you know where to look.”

Elizabeth Horton-Newton on April 19, 2015
Five stars – Beautiful, Tragic, and Touching
Roni-Askey-Doran grabbed my attention from the very first sentence in “Broken”. I had to find out what would drive Emily Zylaz to decide to commit suicide on her birthday. As I followed Emily through her day and learned more about her journey to this pivotal day I began to understand how she came to that point in her life. After a childhood where she felt abandoned by a father she never knew, unloved by her mother and sister, sexually assaulted by an uncle, raped, and abused and beaten by her ex-husband, Emily has led a life of pain. Feeling hopeless and insignificant she believes no one will even miss her when she is gone. On a day when she loses her job she also makes new friends although she doesn’t see them as such initially. As every step she takes toward her well thought out plan to hang herself is foiled by unknowing participants I wanted to cheer. Surely this woman would begin to see she had every reason to live. With a surprising and thrilling conclusion that left me breathless “Broken” flew to the top of my must read books to recommend. Beautifully written, the language is colorful and engaging drawing the reader into the story. I couldn’t put it down, desperate to learn if Emily would succeed or fail. This is a touching story of fear and loneliness, love and secrets, and the glimmer of serendipity that can change a life in a flash. I highly and joyfully recommend “Broken”.

Rhoda D’Ettore on 16 April 2015
Five stars – Finished in Two Sittings
“It’s a good day to die.”

The above is the first sentence in Broken, a Contemporary Women’s Fiction / Suspense / Drama, written by Roni Askey-Doran. This is exactly my kind of book. Although I rarely read first person, especially written in present tense, this book drew me in from the very beginning. How could it not? The first line makes you wonder upon reading it. The story opens as Emily explains to the reader her plan to hang herself at midnight, on her birthday. We follow her day on an hourly basis, as she weaves us a tale of social anxiety, bullies, sexual harassment, abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, sexual) and more. There are flashbacks throughout the story giving us an in depth look into the forces that drove this woman to teeter on the brink of suicide. As the hours pass, characters are introduced that begin to give her a glimmer of hope. The hope of not feeling no so alone. Will she reject that hope? As the night moves along, secrets and twists unfold that shocked even me. But it’s still not over as the crescendo of suspense forced me to finish this read in two sittings. What will Emily do? Will she give up on life or flirt with the prospects given to her throughout the day? There is only one way to find out. Buy the book. The writing: As I stated, this is written in a first person, present tense. Ironically, this is my least favorite point of view, yet I was drawn to the character and the story. In the beginning of the story, the build up is all in Emily’s head. Therefore there is no real action, no dialogue. Is seemed like a conversation you would hear from your best friend or a diary entry. As the chapters flew by, the characters and action became much better defined and developed. The emotions poured off the screen as the narration became better along the way. What I fear is that some authors and editors who shout “show, don’t tell” will miss their opportunity to take a look into the true to life consequences of our choices, upbringing, and lack of understanding of others. The beginning is full of more storytelling, however, the author and character both seem to emerge from a cocoon. This leaves us an intense, gripping book touching on tough subjects while it hacks away at stigmas placed on the mentally ill.”

Pauline Barclay on 7 April 2015
Four stars – but I am so pleased I did read Broken
“Well written and an emotional page turner. The author sent me a copy of this book and I admit at first when I read the description I didn’t think it was for me, but I am so pleased I did read Broken. The author has the ability to get right inside her character’s head and deliver to the reader what is going on there. I have no problem recommending this book. Put it on your to read list!”

Janice Leibowitz on 3 April 2015
Four stars – A good book that you can’t put down!
“It’s Emily’s birthday, and she has decided, that it’s also the day she’s going to end her life! She’s taken one knock too many, from what she remembers as a dysfunctional upbringing, to her disastrous, abusive marriage, the loss of her baby, and her uninspiring job, she just can’t take anymore and is of the opinion that nobody will miss her, so there’s really no point in carrying on. As we accompany Emily on her last day in existence, we meet the various people who contribute to the unusual life she leads. Each chapter constitutes an hour in Emily’s day, and it is this clever format that contributes to the reader not being able to put this book down! You just can’t wait to see what happens next as the day progresses. And even though we are following Emily through her day on an hourly basis, the author has also managed to ingeniously weave flashbacks and memories into the time frame, so that we’re able to get an in-depth look into what has led Emily to this day. We gain much insight into what makes her tick, and why she is the way she is. This book incorporates important lessons: that first impressions don’t necessarily count; that many things are not as they first appear to be; that most people go through some sort of trauma at some point in their lives; that everyone reacts differently to the obstacles placed in their paths; that there might actually be some people out there who are genuinely nice people!

Bookworm on 30 Mar. 2015
Five stars – A compelling read
“Its the first time I have written a review but felt compelled to do so after reading this compulsive page turner, the author has captured the suspense and held it right to the last pages. This is not my normal read but a friend committed suicide and that is what caught me initially. Well thought out story and fabulous descriptions only small thing I personally didn’t like was the name Djordan ,but a small price to pay for such a good book.”

Kerry P. on 25 Mar 2015
Five stars – Brilliant!
“What a yarn! I’m speechless. Gob smacked! You should get a prize for the most suspense in one story. Broken goes along at a pace that kept me intrigued from the first page to the last.”

Wendy K. on 19 Mar 2015
Five stars – Awesome!
“OMG … such suspense. This is a good story, the scenes are glorious, the descriptions done so well. It is fucking awesome, Roni.”

5-Minute Q&A:

What inspired you to write Broken?

On my Mother’s birthday, the tragic news broke that comedian Robin Williams had committed suicide. Immediately, I felt it was a story that needed to be told. The one lingering question we all have after such a tragedy is always “Why?” and the aim of Broken is, in part, to explore some of the possible answers to that question. At that time, I was working on something else, but this compelling story wouldn’t leave me alone until I wrote the outline and began to work on it seriously. It is my hope that, long before our friends and loved ones ever come to make a decision like that, we will be able to avert more tragedy by understanding how people get to such a bleak point of despair that they consider death a viable solution. As we all know too well, and far too painfully, when someone we love decides they want to die, it’s too late to save them after the fact. We need to be there for them long before that decision is ever made. It’s time we all talked to each other about suicide, and open the discussion wide so that nobody ever feels it’s the only solution to their problems.

Tell us a bit about the main character.

The main character is Emily Zylaz, of undetermined age, living in an unspecified city. I did this on purpose so that people of all ages, and all nationalities could read the story and relate to the character. Emily might be 22 and living in New York, or turning 35 in London, or 28 and from Sydney, or Capetown, or Hong Kong. I wanted to create a character that readers from all age groups and all walks of life could relate to on a personal level. Slightly chameleon-ish, Emily can be whoever the reader wants to think she is. As for her story, Emily has had it pretty rough. We know she’s strong, but she’s also a sensitive human being and, when we meet her, she is actually at the end of her rope. The reader walks alongside her throughout each hour of the day, privy to what she thinks, and how she feels, as a witness to every moment of the day she has decided will be her last, and we all try to understand why she so badly wants to die, cheer her on as she conquers a demon or two, as well as wonder if she’s going to make it to tomorrow.

Isn’t writing a book about suicide depressing?

Writing to me is like breathing, so no, the writing part wasn’t the slightest bit depressing. It was exciting to sit down each day with the characters and work with the continuously evolving story. Most days, when I sat down to write, I was just as eager as my readers to find out what would happen next.

Can you describe your writing process?

Firstly, I planned out this book, chapter by chapter. Then, filled out the details of my main character so I had an idea who was narrating the story. From there, the rest just flowed. As I wrote, the original plan was trashed and the story pretty much developed itself. Most of the best “aha!” moments came to me while I was washing dishes or chopping onions. Creating all the suspense was the most fun, and having a few readers along the way was extremely helpful. I’d write a chapter and send it away, then the feedback would come and I’d make adjustments according to how the readers responded to each chapter. It helped to make the story a lot tighter and any obvious flaws were picked up as I wrote.

Have you ever felt suicidal?

Yes, I have. More than once. Depression is such a dark, insidious disease that it can work its way deep inside your mind and convince you that death is the only way to make all the pain go away. One of the things that has saved my life, apart from the unconditional love of my family, is knowing that I’m not alone. There are others who have suffered, and who are still suffering, as I suffer. There are others who have grieved, hurt, struggled, fought, lost, cried, who have been bullied, abused, ostracized, beaten, and almost given up, just as I have. In this, I am not alone. No one is alone. There is always someone who will be there for us. Suicide isn’t the solution. I would urge anyone who feels suicidal to talk about it – just talk, to friends, to family, to complete strangers, to support groups, to helplines or call centers, to doctors or health professionals, to anyone. I would also urge anyone who hears someone talk about suicide to show compassion. Suicide is currently ranked as the third leading cause of death worldwide among people aged 15-35 years. We need to open up an honest dialogue about support and prevention, and we need to do it right now.

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Reviews

Kiwiscantfly on 22 Oct 2017
Five stars
“Thoroughly enjoyable book. Not only does it transport you to the regions that many of us will never venture describing them beautifully, but regales with many a tale of adventures,  some wonderful, others frightening.”