Alyssa Herron is a produced playwright, poet and short-story author (“Herron’s use of language, idiom and lingo is really rather remarkable” – Pittsburgh City Paper) who lives just outside of Pittsburgh. Her debut novel, Drowning Above Water, tells the story of a “a young, troubled girl, who is hooked on drugs and headed for death when she is trafficked to America from Poland by her own mother in a last attempt to save her life…”
“Years ago, I fell in love with the series The Wire,” Herron says, when asked about her inspiration for Drowning Above Water. “I was fascinated by the second season, where a trailer of dead women lands on the docks in Baltimore. I couldn’t stop thinking about those women. Where were they from? How horrible were their situations that they were willing to drop into the water in a steel coffin?”
While Drowning Above Water tackles challenging subjects (like human trafficking), Herron reassures her readers that “there is love, there is hope, and there is light… even in the darkest water.”
Petyr and Malina quietly traveled across the yellow bridge to the east end of the city. The buildings turned from polished metal to rusted metal and from beautiful, established bricks and stone to crumbling buildings that were held together by their paste and inertia alone. Then they drove past streets and structures that had given up all together. Passing several lots that were empty except for garbage and broken shopping carts, they arrived at a multiple story building that seemed to have been erroneously lifted in from another side of town. Their car passed three gigantic luxury vehicles, tanks to protect their money-filled owners. They turned a corner and slowed into the side street behind the building. Dumpsters and dying cars rotted along the sides of the building. Petyr smoothly pulled his car into a tiny space between garbage bins. He got out and stepped around to the passenger’s side where he opened the door for Malina.
She stepped out, her matronly pumps and nude hose immediately drenched in the standing water in the alley. The tall brick building stretched above them. The rain dripped through the drainpipe down to them, splashing water one drop at a time into a puddle at their feet. He hovered over her, reached his arms around her waist, and lifted her out of the wetness. She looked at him with pity—though not only for him—and incredulity.
“Thank you,” Malina said.
Side by side and in quiet, they walked along the rough, stony edges of the building until they got to the dark metal door. She paused and tilted her eyes toward the reflective panel that was small and square and eye-level. It was a door no one would willingly want to enter. The kind of door that would no doubt creak and scream when opening and thud with claustrophobic finality on closing.
Petyr, of course, reached out in front of her to grab the handle.
This excerpt from Drowning Above Water by Alyssa Herron is published here courtesy of the author. It should not be reprinted without permission.