Books

What happens when children are denied love and then left to their own devices? Follow Me into the Dark traces the unraveling of a family marred by perverse intergenerational abuse. Kate is a young baker whose mother is dying of cancer. Gillian is an oversexed, hyper-intellectual who looks like Kate and is sleeping with Kate’s stepfather. Jonah is Gillian’s odd but devoted stepbrother, who increasingly matches the description of the “Doll Collector,” a menacing serial killer. With Kate flailing in her mourning and beating back unwelcome memories, snippets of her family legacy are revealed just as the Doll Collector’s body count grows.

A complex, dark expression of the deprived heart and the desperate lengths children will go to in order to create family.

“The raw terror of Sullivan’s novel lies in her depiction of family, of motherhood, not as safe haven but as private, internal danger. The horror comes from within, from inside the house, from inside the family, from inside the mind.”—Los Angeles Review of Books

“A searing portrayal of a woman’s complicated grief. . . . An original, spellbinding, and horrifying read.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Sullivan’s haunting novel should have a strong appeal for fans of dark, psychological suspense.” —Booklist

“Follow Me into the Dark is a dark, dense, and rewarding debut novel.” —Largehearted Boy

“Haunting prose and intelligent twists haunt and thrill, while her lyrical prose simultaneously adds an elegance and beauty to every scene and character. Sullivan does not apologize for the derangement of the characters, because this is a reality that could be happening right next door. It makes for both a seductive and demented novel of pure genius. It is a jolting and invigorating ride.” —Bellingham Review

“The book is exceptionally dark and filled with abuse. It’s bleak and depressing but powerful.” —Books of Blood

“Within the first words you’ll find yourself pulled into something rich, luminous, and unsparing. I’m reminded of contemporaries like Merritt Tierce and Ottessa Moshfegh, but Felicia Sullivan achieves both an emotional intensity and pacing that is simultaneously seductive and blistering. Follow Me into the Dark is both an invitation and a dare. Accept both. You’ll be glad you did.” —Joe McGinniss Jr., author of Carousel Court

“A haunting and wholly engrossing story of uncommon moral complexity, with prose bright and swift as lightning.” —Laura van den Berg, author of Find Me

“Precise and powerful, Felicia Sullivan’s gorgeous novel takes you on a journey through the darkest sides of human nature, with arresting images and unforgettable characters that don’t let go.” —Liza Monroy, author of Seeing As Your Shoes Are Soon To Be On Fire

“A gripping exploration of pain, anger and revenge. It will stay with you long past the last page.” —Kelly Braffet, author of Save Yourself

Days before Felicia Sullivan graduated from college, her mother disappeared; she hasn’t been heard from in more than twelve years. It was possibly the last betrayal her mother, a beautiful, volatile, deceitful drug addict, would add to those that built their relationship, which subjected Felicia to a nightmare childhood on the toughest streets of 1980s Brooklyn. Growing up in the close company of dealers, users, and a host of unsavory characters, Felicia became her mother’s keeper at a shockingly young age—getting her to the hospital after her overdoses, enduring her cruelty and narcissistic rages, and accepting the abuse or indifference of numerous so-called stepfathers. Years later, damaged and ashamed of her past, Felicia invented a new, brutally hard-partying persona to show to the world: she became her mother.

Affecting, honest, and utterly extraordinary, The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here is a book about secrets and forgiveness—the story of a young woman unraveling . . . and then putting her life back together again.

“A poignant memoir.” —Publishers Weekly

“Sullivan appears to defy odds, moving past childhood poverty and her addict mother’s abuse to gain an education and career…It’s amazing to read how she transformed herself into a carbon copy of her college classmates, seeming to escape her traumatic rearing so completely”—Elle

“Sullivan’s bracing, pared-to-the-bone prose evokes compassion by being impressively free of the narcissistic self-worship that so often infects books of this stripe.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A young woman from Brooklyn “looks at her rocky childhood growing up with a beautiful, drug-addicted mom” in this remarkable memoir.” —Vanity Fair

“A poignant memoir by writer Sullivan palpates the wounds of growing up with an unstable, cocaine-abusing mother.” —Library Journal.

“Felicia Sullivan’s mother disappeared on the night Felicia graduated from college. The daughter would go on to an Ivy League education and numerous accomplishments—but eventually, just like her missing parent, she would succumb to alcohol and cocaine abuse. In this “brave and lovely” account, Felicia looks at the ways she was shaped by the shame of her past, and how she finally overcame it.” —Roxana Robinson

“Looking back on the tough streets of Brooklyn in the 1980s, where she lived among drug dealers, users, and substitute fathers who tended to be indifferent at best and abusive at worst, Felicia reveals how she became her mother’s keeper, taking her to the hospital when she overdosed, withstanding her narcissistic rages, and always wondering why her mother would never reveal the truth about the father she’d never met. The Sky Isn’t Visible from Here is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and an “extraordinary memoir [that] will keep you awake at night and haunt your dreams.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Family History

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  • Do the thing that chills you down to the bone. I’ve been thinking about time a lot, as well as ambition.
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When I was young, I was hungry. I was aggressive and relentlessly ambitious to the point of being myopic. I had to prove something to the world, myself, perhaps my mother, and I needed to collect these totems or the signifiers of success.
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But there comes a point when you shift from desiring success to significance. The shift is imperceptible, but it happens because you start to be aware of time and the fact that you have fewer years ahead than behind. That realization is potent and frightening because death takes it all, strips us of ourselves and we return to that from which we’ve come. We can’t cart along our trophies and bank accounts and handbags to the afterlife. Those things have been reduced to dust and they no longer have any meaning.
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You start thinking about time and its value. Am I squandering it? Investing in it? Living it? Breathing through it.
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I’m frightened of death and the irony that I wanted to take my own life two years ago doesn’t escape me. I don’t have faith that could hold my hand and guide me through and out of the dark. I simply believe there’s nothing and this life is the one true thing I know of.
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Suddenly success morphs into significance because you start to do the math and wonder what you’ve done in this one beautiful life that will leave its mark. Maybe we’ll all be forgotten. Maybe we’ll leave indelible prints that linger. I don’t know.
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What I do know is that the definition of success is elusive. Just when you think you have it, it changes form. And the things I wanted five, ten years ago aren’t that which I desire now. There’s want, but it’s a different kind of want. There’s the want of designing a life that’s conscious, graceful, impactful, curiosity-driven, and remarkable.
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I sat down with a peer today and she trusted me as a marketer, and as someone at her level who could lend perspective. She has the tools, it’s just a matter of me being her guide and telling her that she alone can grant herself permission to shift her business and change her life.
  • When you’re trying to get WORK done and your pet is back on their bullshit.
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Who has a little one (pet, baby, cactus) they play with during the day to keep sane?
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  • My mother had died a year ago and this wasn’t about her. My pain exceeded her. I was in new terrain — a dark country to which I’d emigrated yet it was foreign to me. This wasn’t like the darkness of before, this was a fresh hurt. A ground that had given way beneath my feet and the fall felt bottomless. There existed no end to it. There was only the enormity of the hurt and its persistence. I woke to it. I carried the weight of it. I fell asleep to it. Even now I couldn’t meet my friend in the day because the light had become an assault.
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You don’t understand, I said. This is constant. Again with the blank stare. The discomfort and confusion. I had created a ripple, a disturbance in one place. I was no longer the fun friend who cracked jokes and entertained her for years. I had become something other.
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All I wanted was for her, for anyone, to say: I love you. I’m here for you. Tell me, what can I do?
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Have you thought about going back to yoga? she asked, signaling for the check. This is just a slump. You’ll snap out of it. You’ll see.
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It was if a curtain had fallen over our table and the room had gone black.
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I wrote about depression. HIT THE LINK IN PROFILE AND CLAP YOUR HEART OUT.
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While there's a lot of garbage and woo phonies out there, I'm serving up the real deal. Who am I? I've published two books, built a $20MM company, and have worked with world-class brands and brilliant start-ups. I know how to tell stories.
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  • What a magical, yummy time at @smorgasburgla. The vibe is SO different from NY. Fewer chef personalities. More home cooks and small businesses. Incredible ethnic food and such a cool energy all around.
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  • Part of being a consultant is self-care. Now this isn’t about fancy candles and spending piles of money. This is about managing stress, anxiety, and the crippling self doubt we feel when we go at it alone.
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My self-care is all about meditation, medication, yoga, walking to clear my head and get the creative juices flowing, not taking on crazy clients, saying no, having me time and doing the thing that gives me calm—cook.
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For years I published a food blog, lovelifeeat.com where I documented thousands of dishes I made, baked, and ate.
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While I’m no longer feeling the blogging vibe and I had to hock the fancy camera, I’m back to cooking yummy food.
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And eating it, natch.
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What’s your self-care regimen?
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  • I used to be a woman who did things. I was a doer, a maker, a builder, and then I was a woman who stared at a wall. I’d become an abandoned construction site, in a constant state of disrepair. The hammers grew heavy. The cement cooled. The nails dulled and rusted brown. And then I woke up from staring at a wall and looked around and nothing felt familiar. I forgot the blueprint and all my plans. What was that building, that woman, supposed to be? For miles, all I could see was the semblance of something, a stack of bricks, a room incomplete. What was supposed to be here? I kept asking myself. ✨

I put on my shirt and shoes and try to walk myself back to the woman I used to be. And watching myself get cut and bruised in the process. But I’m used to this, I think, passing time tending to my wounds. ✨

How do I go back to building when the tools feel heavy in my hands? ✨

How did I get here? ✨

I look at pictures for clues. In 2002, I started an online literary magazine because none of the cool kids would publish my work. My writing was too raw, dark, and messy for print. I wasn’t cool enough, connected enough, or willing to kiss the right ass.
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I’ve always been more of a kicker than a kisser.
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The journal was beautiful, smart, and cultivated a following enough to get the attention of The New York Times, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker. I was proud of the five years I devoted to the journal—how I built it on Moveable Type and then fought with the printer on proofs when I decided to launch an annual print edition.
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I don’t tell people about the times I’d hurl 40-pound boxes up and down streets. I don’t tell people about manning a table at a book fair knowing all the cool kids in publishing hate you because you upset the queen bee. And I definitely don’t tell people that I used to get stone-drunk at book parties because the idea of talking to the judgy smart set was unimaginable sober. Never do I talk about the hours spent sad and alone.
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.....read the rest on @medium. Link in profile.
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  • The most advanced yogis aren’t the lithe Lululemon-clad women who kick up into handstand. We claim to be egoless, yet we grandstand our heel hitting wood while the motley lot peer up from their books and their phones, while we holds our breath for a moment before coming down. Our practice has begun because we’re able to hear the sound of a heel thumb against wood.
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This isn’t yoga to me, it’s showing off. Truly skilled practitioners settle into their breath because that is the most difficult thing one can do. That is the union: stillness and movement coalescing, folding in on itself like a note held too long, sorting itself out. When I started my practice in 2002 I was driven by ego; I regarded the asanas as a succession of poses I could master. Little did I realize that holding a Warrior pose would reduce me to a shaking mess. How could I know that my physical impairment — a shattered collarbone that never healed, only prevented one arm from growing, so I was left with one arm markedly longer than the other — would make many poses anatomically impossible?
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How I could know that it would take me seven years to sit still for 15 minutes?
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I hadn’t prepared myself for how my practice has shifted in the years since I’d left it. I practiced for 7 years, daily. I stopped and every attempt to start again has been a challenge.
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When I left NY, it occurred to me that I was going at life SO HARD. Everything was about killing it and crushing it and every violent metaphor you could muster. Then I got here, slowed down, and wanted to settle down.
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I’ve been in LA for nearly 3 years and I’ve finally returned to that mat. My body has changed. My ability to do certain poses has changed and I remind myself that I can’t compare my advanced before with this new after.
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I found a studio that’s a lot like the one I used to love, and my teacher told me that my practice is in me. The precision and attention are there, but the strength and prowess aren’t. I’m reminded of the meaning of yoga: union, and how my practice is a union of all my selves. The woman I used to be and the woman now. And the work is seeing the beauty between the two.

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