Exclusive Interview with
When did you start writing?
I started writing in 1988. I have been a medical social worker for over 40 years. I saw how hard it was for my patients and their families, so much fear and anxiety. I started writing books and articles with a healthcare theme to empower and educate them so they could feel less alone and have more control over their care.
What makes writing your passion?
I love connecting with people and identifying universal concerns and experiences and through my writing I hope they feel less isolated and more empowered. I heard from a woman in Shri Lanka who felt totally isolated because of her infertility. She had nobody to talk to. She read my book and cried because she understood what she felt was OK and normal. That is why I write.
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing for 22 years.
What was the feeling when you published your first book?
I couldn't believe it. I had not written before. I was shocked when the first publisher I contacted gave me a publishing contract. I mistakenly assumed that I could do it again. My first book was called Patient Power How to Have a Say in Your Hospital Stay and I was thrilled to help people advocate for themselves and their loved ones.
What’s the story behind your choice of characters?
My work is non-fiction and self help. My most recent book, Role Reversal How to Have a Say During Your Hospital Stay is part memoir about my father. He was an amazing guy and I love that it is written in his voice and mine. I haven't seen that elsewhere. I also use it as a springboard to give my readers information on caregiving since I was his caregiver.
What annoys you the most in pursuing a writing career?
I love the writing part. The hardest part is the marketing. You have to be able to get your work out to readers and that is very challenging. Also finding a publisher is always a challenge in today's market. There are many more options all the way from self-publish, hybrid publishers, and traditional publishers if you get extremely lucky or are a well established well known author.
How do you get over the “writer’s block”?
I have never had writer's block. I have written hundreds of articles on health related themes and have authored and published 3 books. There is always something more to say and write about. The trick is saying something that has not been said before.
We all know the writer’s path is never easy, what makes you keep going? What advice would you give to new authors?
I still believe I have something to say that people can find helpful and my words can touch them. Don't give up. Be patient and educate yourself about what your publishing options are. Let other people read and critique your work. Be prepared to do many drafts before you have a finished product.
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self, what would you say?
My younger self would never have imagined that I would have been a published author and had this long of career. I would have told her to believe in what life had taught her and be confident that others would want to hear about and learn from her experience.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad ones?
Yes, I do read book reviews. I can't help myself. I have been lucky because generally the audience of readers that I get reads my work because they are looking for support or help. I have not gotten a really bad review. I understand that what I write is not for everyone and if I get a critical review I read it and try to understand and learn from what the reader has said and keep in mind for future work.
What is the feeling when you get a good review?
It is a fantastic feeling when you get a good book review. As a writer, you hope your readers will appreciate your work so it feels great. It gives me a sense of pride, accomplishment and personal satisfaction.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?
All of my books are based on my personal experiences. I can't write about what I don't know. I don't have the skillset to be a fiction writer. So yes, everything I write is based on my personal experiences or experiences I shared with others.
Which of your characters you can compare yourself with? Did you base that character on you?
I wrote Riding the Infertility Roller Coaster based on my personal experience with infertility. Role Reversal is about my experience as a caregiver for my parents and friends.
What do you think, the book cover is as important as the story?
The book cover is part of the reason people pick up a book and want to read it. If has to tell the reader something about what they are going to find inside. It is very important.
Do you connect with your readers? Do you mind having a chat with them or you prefer to express yourself through your writing?
I love connecting with my readers. I do a lot of blogging, workshops, speeches, podcasts in hopes of connecting with my readers and hearing their personal stories.
How do you feel when people appreciate your work or recognize you in public?
There is no better feeling as a writer when people tell you how much they appreciate your work. I can't say that is why I write. But as a writer it fuels me and it validates my work and the choices I make as a writer. It is the best possible by product of the work.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
My favorite book is Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I think it is the perfect book. The character development is incredible. The story is timeless. Every word is just right and needs to be there.
What’s the dream? Whom would you like to be as big as?
I like Danni Shapiro's work. I think she is incredible and she really opens up about herself. Also Cheryl Strayed is amazing.
Would you rewrite any of your books? Why?
NO, there is no reason to do that. I try to write my books in a way that is not marked by time. Of course things change in healthcare but the things I choose to include are pretty timeless. I would rather pick a new topic and tackle that.
If you could switch places with any author – who would that be?
I love the work of Ann Patchett. She is a fantastic writer. She also is an incredible source of support of independent authors and bookstores. She has her own bookstore too. I would love to spend some time in her shoes because I think she has touched many lives in incredible, powerful ways.
What would you say to the “trolls” on the internet? We all know them – people who like to write awful reviews to books they’ve never read or didn’t like that much, just to annoy the author.
I would tell them to use their time in more productive ways. I have no regard for people who choose to be mean or hurtful to other people.
What would you say to your readers?
I would thank them for taking the time to read what I write. It is a choice on how they use their time. I hope my writing touches them in meaningful ways and helps them to cope with the life crisis they face . I am grateful to each and every person who reads my work and tells other to read it.
Share a bit about yourself – where do you live, are you married, do you have kids?
I live in Chicago. I am married and have a 20 year old daughter.
What is your day job if you have one?
I was a medical social worker but have now retired.
What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I love to travel and read. I love to go to movies. I am fortunate to have wonderful friends and family and spend time with them. I also find jigsaw puzzles and coloring great ways to relax.
Did you have a happy childhood?
Yes I had a very wonderful childhood. My parents were very loving and I have a great relationship with my brother and sisters.
Is there a particular experience that made you start writing?
I was in the hospital and saw the family of a patient of mine in the hall crying. I asked them why and they told me they thought their loved one was dying. I knew he was just getting a simple test. The doctor had not taken the time to tell them what he was doing and why. That was when I decided to write Patient Power.
Do you have unpublished books? What are they about?
What do you think should be improved in the education of our children? What do we lack?
All children should have access to books, computers, and learning resources. Education should be equal for all children, equal opportunities for learning, growing, and developing their education and life skills.
If you were allowed 3 wishes – what would they be?
1. Everyone could be healthy.
2. Everyone would have financial and food security.
3. Everyone would feel loved.
What is your favorite music?
I have eclectic tastes in music. I love the blues, rock, and folk music. I play piano and guitar. I am taking guitar lessons now.
Share a secret with us 🙂
I am a pretty bad guitar player but I hope to get better.