SparkNotes Blog

Real Talk: a Personal Tragedy Led Me to Become a Professional Writer

I’m a fantasy author, and my first book The Lost Heir was published in 2013. I go to many comic cons and book signings over the course of a year, and as a result, I meet many wonderful people. One thing I get asked quite frequently is what schooling or educational qualifications I have in writing.

I did go to college but not for writing. I graduated with a BA in music with a concentration in cello performance. (And let me tell you, I used to be able to perform a mean Lalo Concerto in D minor!) So when I tell people that I have no education in creative writing, the questions that comes next is, “So, what made you decide to become an author?” I tell them I became an author because of my my mom, which sounds overly simplistic. The reality is much more complicated.

You see, I didn’t start writing seriously until after my mom died of cancer in 2011.

I got the idea for The Lost Heir in 2002 and began writing the book just for fun. I’d take months (and sometimes even years) off when I didn’t touch it at all. I saw writing as a hobby and nothing that I would ever shape into a career.

Then, nine years later, when my mom died, I decided I needed to sit down and finish the book. Five months after her death, the first draft of The Lost Heir was complete, and it became my last gift to her. My husband encouraged me try to get it published, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I initially thought that finishing the book was more for my mom than me, but it turned out to be a rather important part of my healing process. I poured all of my sorrow, anger, and frustration into my writing, as well as the happiness and euphoria I had from the wonderful memories we shared.

Writing became a way for me to come to terms with her death and celebrate her life. It helped me heal and accept that she was gone. It allowed me to accept my emotions and not try to hide them from myself and others like I had done after my dad’s death sixteen years earlier. It was ok to be angry, lonely, sad or bitter. It taught me that I shouldn’t be ashamed if others saw me cry. None of those emotions were a sign of weakness. They were a normal part of what everyone feels when a loved one is lost.

Holding my first book in my hands, knowing I’d dedicated it to my mom, was one of the happiest times of my life. The pride I experienced was unmatched. I had finished a project out of determination to honor her and make her proud, wherever she may be. And now, whenever I write, I think of her and the emotions I immersed myself in when writing The Lost Heir. She is always with me and always with my writing.

Thanks to her, I have found my calling and also found the courage to honor her in the best way I know how: penning wondrous stories like the ones she brought into my life. I will forever be thankful for the influence she had on me while she was here and the impact she continues to have over me now that she’s gone.

Have you ever taken a devastating situation or experience and turned it into something positive? Share it with us!