Tell us a little about your book:
as published online in a Book Group Newsletter from Village Books
Love, Your Mother—Like It or Not
Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not is the story of the kidnapping of a six-month-old baby boy. It is 1942. A troubled woman abducts the baby and flees across country. She and her husband raise the infant as their own son. When the boy is sixteen, he stumbles upon information about his "parents" that reveals their reckless deed. Although his world is turned upside down, it takes another seventeen years before he is ready to look for his birth mother. His search to solve the mystery of his unknown past begins.
My story is told through the eyes of the kidnapped child, who is now a man in his mid-sixties. He thinks back on the search for his birth family and recalls its impact on his life.
A series of letters written to him by his birth mother are intertwined throughout the man's narrative. Unexpected truths about the kidnapping that changed both their lives forever are revealed in her letters.
What inspired you to write this book?
This is a true story. It is my story. Friends, who heard about my childhood, often told me, "You couldn't make that up. You should write a book."
But writing a book was not a reality while working 40 hours a week. Also, other than personal journals kept over the years, I had never written anything. It was many years before I gave the idea of writing my story serious thought. My inspiration came from two sources—my brother and my mother's letters.
Thirty years had passed since I found my birth mother as well as a half-sister and brother. At age 62, my brother was suffering from a very serious illness. I was 64 and I decided to retire and move to the east coast to help care for him. During my stay, we had many conversations about our mother. I shared her letters with him and the idea for a book began to take shape in my mind.
Looking back now, I understand how writing Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not was therapy for me at the time. It helped me through the pain and sense of helplessness I felt as I dealt with my brother's illness.
Tell us a little about your writing process.
I was intimidated when I first sat down to write this story. I had no writing experience or training. I had no outline or plan. I just started writing.
I try not to worry about the order or importance of the ideas and thoughts that come to me. I just try to capture them and get them down on the page before they disappear from my mind.
My method of writing includes staying focused on the page/scene/event I am writing about. I try not to get too far ahead of myself. I prefer to face/solve any problems as they surface and not worry about "what if." At some point the story takes over and it leads me in the direction I need to go.
When I am finished with all I can possibly say about a particular event or scene, I stop writing. I go back to the beginning of what I have been working on and I do a first, rough edit. When I have exhausted that task, I set the entire section aside to "simmer" awhile. Then I start over with a new idea and begin another section. I often had 4 or 5 different parts of my book all "cooking" at the same time.
I find that the passage of time gives me new ideas and a clearer perspective on what I have already written. Editing and revising is a never-ending part of my writing. At some point in my early editing of Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not, I developed the framework and set the direction for my book.
I am reluctant to share/show/discuss my writing with anyone until I am completely finished. Even my brother, who is in the book, had no idea I was writing Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not, until I showed him the finished manuscript seven months after I had started it.
What were the challenges of self-publishing Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not?
Once my book was finished, I had no illusions about the difficulties of finding a reputable agent to help me push my book to the next level. I was a new author at age 69. I needed to look in a different direction, if I wanted to see my book in print in my lifetime. Five years had already passed since I started writing the story.
The solution turned out to be right here in Bellingham—Village Books' Espresso Machine. Working with Lindsey McGuirk, I began the process of self -publishing Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not. Not having an agent or well-known publisher backing me up meant the responsibility for turning Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not into an attractive volume was entirely mine. This task was just as challenging as the writing or editing of my story.
Even so, I did not transform my computer file manuscript into a 263-page book by myself. I engaged local professionals to assist me. I worked with an experienced technician for my book design and layout. Then a skilled graphic artist took my ideas and turned them into an eye-catching front and back cover. A website was created to publicize Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not and to make it available as an e-book. Self-publishing does involve a financial commitment. Two months after I contacted Lindsey, my book was ready to print.
Shortly after Love, Your Mother— Like It or Not was printed, I went into Village Books. I needed confirmation that my book was indeed on the shelf of a real book store. I admit I was in awe in spite of myself. The memorial to my brother and the tribute to my mother, once just a personal story in my head, was now a book available to share with others.