One of the questions I’m most often asked at a book signing is how much of What We Leave Behind is based on my real life experiences. The answer is this: I write what I know. Beginning with an idea, I embellish, tweak, and toss it around. There it simmers. The meat—memories and experiences—are the heart, and the fictional elements season and flavor.
This was a tough week. My mother is very ill. She has pancreatic cancer (15 months in) and although statistically she is already a survivor, the grim reality is startling at times. When someone you love is sick, the balancing act is tested and whiplash sets in when you are forced to “live your life” because you don’t have the luxury of hiding under the covers when young children and responsibilities loom.
Last night I had the privilege of joining a local book club celebrating their 38th year together. These women had a complete list of books they had read over the course of marriage, birth, careers, divorce, illness, loss, grandchildren, celebration, hurt, happiness, and laughter. The books were challenging, literary works. I was humbled to be amongst an expansive list of such impressive authors. One of the ladies whispered to me, “It’s all about relationships, coming together and coming apart, being touched and feeling something. That’s the essence of living. That’s why we read.”