The book is so personal in nature, what motivated you to write it? I always wanted to write my mother'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.
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. I simply could not include every single session, but the bits and pieces are at the core of most of them.
Have you found any personal unexpected benefits from writing the book? Absolutely! A couple things. 1) Complete joy that readers are letting me know that by reading my story, they are now getting the help they need to get over their personal demons. 2) My sister is getting all the adoration she deserves from everyone she knows. I felt she went through the worst since she was older. 3) I truly feel blessed that I accomplished my dream of publishing a meaningful story about our past, that people are enjoying the read and finding it moving.
This must have been cathartic to write? 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 in an effort to help others who may have suffered the same. We left nothing out and stayed 100% to the facts/truth.
What happened to Paul Jr? What happened to Tommy? Paul Jr: When we moved into our new home in Sierra Vista, he did not move with us. He went off to college and we only saw him at Christmas time. Frankly, knowing now what he did to my sister, I don't care what happened to him. He was as sick as his father. He had no impact on my life or the story, so didn't write about him more than I had to. Tommy: He left my mother alone after she said she had to move on. It seems unrealistic, but it was just like that. He seemed to love my mother, but he had a bevy of woman in line for his attentions.
Did your 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 completely supported me. She had to share all her stories for the book. She is 79, and so proud of me. 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 for? 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.
It's crazy to me that you know so many intimate details about your mom's sex life! It was not easy to get that information from her. It took nearly four years! I put on my interviewer’s hat, and it felt as though she was telling me someone else’s story. 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.
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. Do you ever end up having a meaningful relationship with your dad? My birth father was incapable of anything beyond small talk with us kids. 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. You can read about our relationship in my follow-up memoir released March 2020, "The Unintended Gift".
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.”