A 35-year-old brain cancer survivor, I’m just trying to figure out how to live a life that looks entirely different from what I expected! Part of that is lots of reading and crafts, games with my amazing (and sometimes infuriating) husband, and cuddles with my cute pup. Oh, and writing, of course.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
I feel like everything in my life is so unclear right now. Like even with my medical situation—do I still have cancer? Am I sick or just disabled? I also think that’s just true of life: we all live in the gray. Illness or not, life is confusing and there’s rarely a clear right answer. What’s that saying? “The only thing consistent in life is change”?
Plus, I’ve always been a really gray person. I never really believed in black or white.
How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?
So great! This was my second book and I never thought I’d write another one, so to actually see it was surreal. Plus, the designer was great and did everything exactly as I wanted.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I mean, I’ve always loved to write, but the authors Jenny Lawson and Roxanne Gay truly inspired me to share my story. I liked how they were just so unapologetically themselves.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
Education. I’m especially interested in the less traditional educational paths that are out there. Don’t get me wrong, my path was very traditional and I support that, but I think there are lots of ways of doing it and what’s most important is being a lifelong learner and staying curious!
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Reaching people and inspiring others.
If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?
Oh man, what a great question. And virtually impossible to answer. One song that comes to mind is Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come because I know that song is about many things, but I think it’s largely about having hope, even when you don’t know what’s coming. Also the song For You by Fleetwood Mac because it is pretty and romantic and it was part of my wedding song, and there is basically no one I’d rather dredge through the muddy waters of the gray with than my husband.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
I hope that they’ll take away that it’s not all roses and sunshine, but that doesn’t mean you’ve failed. My perfect reader is a cancer survivor—or anyone who has been through serious illness or trauma—who feels like there’s nothing good about their situation, or that they’re “doing it wrong.” My ideal reader is someone who reads the book and thinks “There are multitudes in this world and even though my path isn’t clear and things aren’t black and white, that doesn’t mean I won’t be okay.”
What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?
I have a blog I try to tend to fairly regularly. My college has a literary program called the Kenyon Review where they post a different writing prompt every week on Instagram, and I’ve been using those prompts to inspire my writing and to practice writing outside of my preferred genre. Outside of writing, my new hobby is embroidering while I listen to an audiobook. Highly suggested.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Working with Atmosphere was great! Everyone was so nice, I just wish I’d gotten more time with some of them! What I would say to other writers is just do it! Don’t worry about prestige or sales. Sure, those things are nice, but there’s nothing like connecting with someone over a story YOU WROTE.