Author Q&A: Here are my most frequently asked questions (and my answers). Some were literally cut and pasted from reader emails. Please feel free to send in your questions and I will be happy to respond. Thanks for reading!
The book is so personal in nature, what motivated you to write it? I always wanted to write my mom’s story, because it is simply incredible – such a roller coaster of a life. It melded into my sister’s story and mine. You will discover why I felt compelled to write it by reading the “note from the author” at the end of the book. I tried to make my intention clear in that section. I hope all my readers read that part.
While you were writing, did you always intend to include the therapy sessions? One of the reasons I included the sessions is so people can see the process of my healing. And it was a process. I simply could not include every one of them, but the bits and pieces are the core of all my sessions. The feedback from men and women around the country has been tremendous—thanking me for encouraging them finally to get the help they needed. Truly, the most gratifying feeling is knowing I am helping others in some small way.
Have you found any personal unexpected benefits from writing the book? Absolutely! Complete joy that people are sharing their personal stories and getting the help they needed to get past personal demons; not letting what robbed them of their past rob them of their future. One of the best gifts for me is that my sister is getting all the adoration she deserves from everyone she knows (she knows A LOT of people). I felt she went through the worst since she was older. I truly feel blessed that I accomplished my dream of publishing a book about our story, people are enjoying the read and finding it moving. This story was not cathartic for me to to write--it was emotionally very difficult. It is cathartic to see it in bookstores and get positive feedback from readers. It confirms for me that it was a story needing to be told and worth sharing.
Did your siblings require any convincing to allow the book to be published? Were parts changed or left out over siblings objections? My brother didn’t want me to include much about his time in Vegas, and I completely respected that. (I also changed everyone’s name in the book except mine.) He only lived with us in Vegas for two years and finds it difficult to hear what happened to us, but he is incredibly supportive. My sister was happy to share our story. She is the promotion queen and I think mostly responsible for my tremendous book sales in Philadelphia.
Did mom require any convincing to allow the book to be published? I'm assuming that at her age, she doesn't give a hoot anymore, but at some point she probably would have felt vulnerable. My mom supported me 100 percent. She had to share her stories for the book. She was in her late 70's when this was released. She can’t be bothered with people judging—who cares anymore about what people think at that age? What she is getting is hugs and people praising her children. What more can a parent ask? We all turned out okay—maybe she would feel differently if we hadn’t, but she has so much to be proud of and we are all fiercely protective of her. Next to my kids, she is the brightest light in my life.
It's crazy to me that you know so many intimate details about your mom's sex life! I don't even want to know about my parents, although I'm sure their's is pretty boring. It was not easy to get that information from her. It took nearly four years and a lot of wine! I put on my interviewer’s hat, and it felt as though she was telling me someone else’s story. It’s s not like it happened last week—that would be a complete "ewwww"! I wanted and needed every detail for the story . . . and if you must know, Tommy’s portions were edited down to a "PG-13 rating" compared with some of the stuff I learned!
As a father, I couldn't fathom not being involved in my child's life. I would never sit in my room and wait for her visit to be over, and I would never tolerate a stepmom that didn't love her like her own. Those concepts just seem so foreign to me. Maybe this is answered later, but at any point do you ever have a meaningful relationship with your dad? My birth father would have failed Human Relations 101. He was a good-looking man from a wealthy family, incapable of anything beyond small talk. His father ignored him, so I don’t think he knew how to relate to his own kids. Although, that is part of what my story is about; changing your path from where you started. I never had a relationship with my father, nor did my sister, beyond seeing him once a year. He didn’t make an effort, and when we did see him, it was only because my mom thought it was the right thing to do. He passed away this summer and my sister, brother and I went to clean out his apartment in Florida. The sequel, "The Unintended Gift" is lighter and gives more insight on our relationship with our father and this time we spent cleaning out his apartment.
Speaking of your siblings, I love how “normal” you turned out to be, but what about them? They are amazing, successful people with beautiful families of their own. No one would ever know or sense our past from who we are today. It is the moral of the story: Bad things happen to good people, but a positive, even wonderful life can emerge nonetheless.
I hope that none of my questions were offensive to you, I'm just fascinated that you had the guts to put this all out there so generously and beautifully. I find none of it offensive. Truly. It is out there and I am happy to answer any and all questions. I am so at peace with our past. I certainly could not have written the book and put it out there if I was not.
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