Today, I’m delighted to host a fellow author from The Wild Rose Press, Kathryn Elliott, as she shares with us some of her experiences writing her debut novel, Adding Lib.
Hi Marlow and thanks for hosting!
In its early stages, Adding Lib felt more like a child than a book. The only difference was instead of chasing a naked two year old around with an abandoned diaper, I was chasing a series of unnamed voices around my head, struggling to combine their wit and quirks with the heavy subject matter – dementia. One of the loudest screamers was my late grandmother, Jane.
Jane was a smoker, a chimney in fact and as such her voice was hard to ignore. That distinctive two pack-a-day gravel is spooky. She drank, too. Not going to sugar coat it, scotch builds character or so she told me and when it came time to wrangle those voices into a workable plot, Jane’s voice kept sneaking in.
Well, no, that’s not accurate. I’m a reporter by day and accuracy is my bible. Jane’s voice didn’t sneak; it stormed in like a bloody freight train hell bent on making me listen.
“Crimers, Kathryn Elizabeth!” (Does anyone know what crimers means? She said it constantly!) “Crimers, stop trying so hard – life is funny, make ‘em laugh! Sure, they’ll cry, but if you don’t laugh you’re not living!” Of course this was followed by deluge of profanity smothered in a phlegmy nicotine cough – but her message was nonetheless clear.
Centered on Libby O’Rourke’s relationship with her mother Mae, Adding Lib explores the early stages of dementia and its impact on a family known for its Irish tempers and love of all things exaggerated. Mae’s denial, a common early symptom in dementia patients only fuels Libby’s already simmering home life.
Through work with the Alzheimer’s Association of America and the Brain Injury Association of Connecticut, dementia was a familiar subject matter. I had years of research writing experience on the subject – the hard part was finding the delicate balance between humor and heartstrings to craft the facts into a relatable story.
Turns out, I’m a pantser – an on the fly writer; no outline and lots of rambles. Trust me, Lib’s first draft was a typo-ridden manifesto of grammar errors; my participles dangled so much they needed a sports bra! But once I stopped doubting my mastery of the English language and made peace with the fact that levity helps even in the hardest of times, the pages of Adding Lib started to fill with the familiar tones and sage advice garnered through years of personal and professional relationships.
Adding Lib is the first in the McGinn series, and my only hope other than the elusive movie deal with Paramount, is this story sheds a new light on dementia – a light that dims a little less with laughter.
Libby O'Rourke has a short fuse. Her mother, Mae, carries a big match. Engulfed in the never-ending life-juggling of suburbia, Libby fails to notice Mae's emerging dementia symptoms until a kitchen fire puts the problem on the front burner.
Proficient in the art of denial, Mae brushes the shattering diagnosis aside and sets her sights on a matchmaking crusade for her eldest son. After all, if her lucid days are numbered, Mae’s going to make damned sure he makes it down the aisle while she still recognizes the groom.
It’s going to take a razor wit and an iron stomach to handle Mae's diagnosis. Thankfully, just like her mother Libby has both.
At three o’clock, excess wine and a bladder weakened by two pregnancies woke Libby from a sound sleep. She crept to the bathroom as quietly as two-hundred-year-old floor boards would allow and, on the way back, noticed the phone’s blinking message light.
“Crap.” Mae’s message taunted from the answering machine. “What to do?” she said to herself. “Check it, or go back to bed?” Years of maternally ingrained guilt won out as she pressed play.
“Hi Lib,” Mae’s recorded message played. “It’s your mother.”
“Color me surprised.” Libby groaned.
“I just got back from my visit with Dr. Cooper. You remember him, he removed Daddy’s planter’s wart.”
“TMI Mom, TMI.”
“Anyhow, he did a splendid job with my colon and said I had none of those dirty pollocks.”
“Polyps, unless you’ve got a ten-foot abstract in your small intestine.”
“You can watch now. Did you know that? They have a camera in your bum the whole time, fascinating really. Anyway, a few of my other test results were a bit off, and he wants me to see a neurologist for some silly reason. Nothing to worry about, just a little blip to check out. Anyhow, I need someone to take me for the appointment, and I was hoping you could find the time. If not, don’t worry, I’ll call your brother Sean. I’m sure he can drop anything less important than his mother.”
“Of course. He’s Jesus.” Libby’s eyes rolled.
“Take care, sweetie. Call me when you can, love to all.”
Libby replayed the message and returned to bed. Blip speculation haunted her dreams.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kathryn Elliott is a lifetime journalist with awards in political satire, human interest, and commentary. A Connecticut native, she is a happily married mother of two sons with high hopes one of them will pay for a delightful rest home.
A true believer in laughter's healing power, Kathryn writes characters whose flaws resonate with readers long after "The End."
ADDING LIB is her debut novel, and the first in The McGinn Series.
BLOG LINK: http://candidkathryn.com/
Kathryn will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: