2 09 2010

An interviewer with a popular internet fiction site asked a very good question:  Had I received any awards or peer honors for my recent book?  The answer was no, but–instead of wondering whether or not my answer would uncover me as a neophyte or, worse yet, a writer undeserving of such an award–I wondered whether winning an award would make my book any better, or make me feel any better about my book.

In “The Books Issue” of Newsweek (August 9, 2010), there was an interview with Darin Strauss, a fiction writer who’d just released a memoir.  He said that readers of his fiction have never written to say the novels were helpful, but that his memoir had elicited feedback like, “I’m really glad this is in the world.”

I’ve received so many beautiful emails, letters and reviews about Finding Frances.  I’ve written reams about the book, but in the words of others, here is why I wrote it:

…a crack in the door opened and we sort of said without really saying that if we had an incurable disease we would want to leave this world just as Frances did, on our own terms.

It is clearly one of the most life changing books I have ever read. It leaves me with a lot of knowledge about dying, but even more knowledge about living.

…a lady was telling me about her dear friend, who was nearing the end of her journey, and had just entered the hospice situation.  And I hugged her, and we cried together a little bit.  And then I told her about “Finding Frances”.  You see, I had just finished it the night before.

…I have been with too many loved ones in their last stages of life.  You are right it is time that the act of dying should no longer be an embarrassing or inconvenient time.  More people need to talk about it so we realize that it is a natural part of life.

At first I wasn’t sure I liked the book….. it hit way too many nerves and the topic of death is not one we Irish (or half Irish as I am) discuss openly.

Every day, all around me, children of my friends are making “Frances decisions.”  …I put my copy in the library and now there’s a waiting list for it.   (from a 92-year-old woman in an assisted living community)

It was all right there on page 117.  You said it perfectly.   At my mother’s funeral I heard myself using your words.  They were so much better than my own.

Finding Frances is a novel that reminds me to treat my loved ones with respect and dignity when that time comes. (From an Amazon Top Reviewer)

I think that this is not really a book about dying but rather a book about living… This is a book we all should read and no one is too young or too old… (Another Amazon Top Reviewer)

My parents are gone, but I am now better prepared to help my children gain comfort and provide support when my time comes. Thank you.

It’s emotionally exhausting but with this topic, it has to be. It’s a heavy load and you can’t pick this book up and think you’re going to be able to get through it without a lot of deep thought.

At some point in giving birth to this book, someone said it was “socially significant.”  At first, I thought that was a big term and felt intimidated by it—how could I have done something significant for the world?

My story hasn’t changed the world, for certain.  But it has changed a few lives.  So even if no one else ever reads it, it was worth every hour, every cent and every tear.




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