Big thanks to Stephanie Barbe Hammer, author of THE PUPPET TURNERS OF NARROW INTERIOR: A NOVEL IN STORIES, for tagging me in the Good Reads project, THE NEXT BIG THING. Below is a first for me; a self-interview about my memoir.
What is the title or working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I used to be a teen services librarian, and, while in that job, I served on a committee that put together themed booklists for teens. One year we did a themed list about illness, so I read a lot of books about illness, including memoirs. It was a lot like when I was in high school, and got obsessed with books about the Vietnam War. Only this time, I could do something other than get depressed. I could write my own illness memoir, about my health problems related to a tumor I had on the outside of my intestine. So that’s how the book started out.
And then one of my closest friends, Beth, died of cancer. We had talked about writing a book together about our experiences of tumors, surgeries, trading roles of patient and caregiver. But it was one of the many experiences I didn’t get to share with her. Instead, I wrote about my experience of having her die, about her illness, my illness.
I started doing triathlons as a way to celebrate my health, and then as a way to honor Beth. So it all came together: illness, health, loss, strength, friendship. Swimming, biking, running. Though illness is still a big part of the story, I don’t think the book belongs in the category of “illness memoir” anymore.