Writing and thriving in today’s world as a woman in the prime of your life
I’m a multi-genre author of an award-winning nonfiction book, three novels (so far), and one short story, recently published in a crime fiction anthology. I’m also a wife and mother of four adult children, a public speaker, and a fluent French speaker active in my local French-speaking community. My fiction is inspired by and drawn at least in part on my own life and experiences. My nonfiction book is a true story and offers a glimpse of my life as a writer when I faced the daily fear that one of my sons would die from brain cancer.
He didn’t, and that is the subject of that book, a story of triumph, hope, and courage. Almost ten years after his battle with the disease, he is thriving and working in New York. Forced to stare death in the face at the age of 19, his bravery and spirit of gratitude made a permanent impact on all members of our family and inspired me to pen his unique and uplifting story in All the Above: My Son’s Battle with Brain Cancer.
I’m often asked where the title comes from. It’s the name of a song that was on his playlist at the time. Most of the lyrics apply directly to what he dealt with in the aftershock of a cancer diagnosis, and later on during his journey with cancer. I began writing fiction before he was ill, but all my books were published after he was cancer-free.
Inspiration is key to my writing, but I have to look for it rather than wait for it to appear. Sometimes, it’s found in my memories, such as those of my long-ago year in France as a university exchange student, the basis for my first novel, Make That Deux (“deux” is French for “two”). More recently, I have found it in daily life, which, lucky me, includes occasional trips back to France. Perhaps because I love tout ce qui est français (anything French), there’s something or someone French in each of my books.
An extraordinary scene in my first suspense novel, Underwater, was inspired by a fabulous afternoon I once spent in a medieval French village between Nice and Monaco. I’m returning there soon with my husband on a vacation that Mezza contributor Brianna Korb of Sculpted Escapes helped us plan. A talented travel expert with the perfect amount of je ne sais quoi, she assisted us with everything from reserving hotels, restaurants, and transportation to museums and little-known treasures of France.
While looking for inspiration, though, I’m busy developing a story, writing it, and polishing it with my own revisions and those suggested by my editor. When outlining and crafting my latest suspense novel, Daddy’s Girl, I did a lot of research about elements essential to the plot. My short story, “The Riverfest,” was inspired by my family’s five- year sejour in the Midwest, my recollections of it triggered by a photo of an uprooted tree in the snow. The story is included in Down to the River along with others contributed by nationally lauded crime fiction authors.
To thrive means to be fortunate, successful, or to grow and flourish. I’m constantly trying to evolve as an author and to thrive while working hard to produce what appeals to readers. To find out more about my writing, and to grab signed copies of my books (Christmas is around the corner!), hear me speak at “A Novel Idea” at Crema Espresso Gourmetin Dunwoody, GA on Tuesday, November 12 at 6:30. On Saturday, December 7 at 3:00, I’ll be at Johns Creek Books & Gifts. You can also pick up my books in your local bookstore, including Barnes & Noble at Perimeter, and (soon) Barnes & Noble at the Forum.
By: Author Julia McDermott