Hello, it's been awhile since we talked. How are you?
This has been the strangest, most unsettling year I can remember. I don’t mean for me personally, because my family and I are fine, thank goodness. But I have never lived through such a tumultuous time in our country, with so many simultaneous crises. We are facing a health crisis, an economic crisis, a racial justice crisis, and a crisis of epic division in our country. The news itself feels like a daily onslaught.
Yes, it has been terrible for many people. What a time to have written a book about resilience!
I never dreamed, when I titled my book, that the word “resilience” would become a buzz word in 2020. Everywhere I look, I see articles discussing resilience, what it is, and how we can improve our capacity for it.
When is your book coming out?
The book, Flashback Girl: Lessons on Resilience from a Burn Survivor, will be released in September 2020, in just two months.
What has this process been like?
Self-publishing has its pros and cons. If I had a traditional publisher, I would have had a lot less work, but I would also have had a lot less control. When you self-publish, you hire your own designer and editors, and you set up your own publishing business. I have had to research how to ready a manuscript for publishing, how to print it, and how to publicize it. I taught myself all these skills and I have learned a lot. Some days are exhilarating, and some days are exhausting.
Luckily, I have had many helpers. My husband is my sounding board, helping me think through issues and solving all my technological crises (I am technologically challenged). My friend Celeste offered to do the final proofread and turned out to be a stellar editor. My gifted nephew, Austin Alphonse, designed the book cover, which is as perfect as a book cover could be. He also dealt with the layout, which apparently, I totally messed up (remember the technologically challenged part?). He didn’t even complain.
How will we know when your book comes out?
Oh, honey, you will know! First of all, I will post on this blog, Facebook, Instagram, etc. In addition, an excellent publicity company agreed to represent me, and they will help me get my message out to local, regional and (hopefully) national media. I will also be collaborating on two new podcasts about resilience with the Phoenix Society (the international association for burn survivors) so information about the book will be available for the burn community through these podcasts as well.
Again, what a time to write a book about resilience!
I know. It is funny. When COVID-19 first hit, I wondered if this was a terrible time to release a memoir. It seemed like all anyone could talk or think about was the pandemic, and with good reason. Then, panic about the virus seemed to lessen, but be replaced with an intense focus on social justice and racial equity. Needless to say, my memoir has nothing to offer on the vital topics of pandemics or the life experiences of people of color.
However, on a meta-level, I have noticed that many people are talking about resilience: what helps people bounce back from tough times, strong and healthy. Here is where I feel my book fully meets the moment. Yes, my book is a memoir, and it focuses on my life experience as a burn survivor, a bullying survivor, a survivor of a highly dysfunctional family, a suicide survivor, etc. But the lessons at the end of each chapter are lessons for everyone; lessons on how to make it through crises, how to keep going, how to get support and help. So, I think Flashback Girl has great value for all on how to survive and thrive through horrible times. And right now, all of us, every one of us, is living through a horrible time.
How are you feeling about the book coming out?
I am excited, energized, and also nervous. Putting my life story out there, in such vulnerable detail, makes me feel squirmy. There is very little held back in this book, with the exception of events that I think might make other living people look bad. The book is honest and unsparing.
I have joked recently that I am an unfortunate combination of a person who is emotionally vulnerable and open, and also a person who is devastated by criticism. I know that my book will be critiqued (and should be!) just like any other book. I also know that writing so honestly about my life will leave me personally open for criticism from anyone who cares to read it. Further, I have become invested in being a good, albeit untrained, writer. I know my writing will also come under scrutiny, which makes me nervous too.
Still, I am excited. This book has been a three-year long quest, into which I have poured all my energy. I have been chugging along like the Little Engine That Could, huffing my way up mountains called “finding an agent,” “rewriting,” “getting authors to write you blurbs.” I have been muttering, “I think I can, I think I can” for three years now, traversing this strange land of writing and publishing.
I am ready to put my story into the world, to tell my tale, and for the story to have its impact. Life can be brutal, but we can make it. I say this as a person who has endured fire, horrifically painful medical care, disfigurement, bullying, parental neglect and divorce, and four family suicides. And you know what? I have a great life now, full of love and meaning. It is possible to survive anything, and even to thrive afterwards. I hope that my tale will inspire you and yours to keep going.
Flashback Girl: Lessons on Resilience from a Burn Survivor will be released in September 2020, and available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website (www.lisedeguire.com). Please stay tuned!
Cover design by Austin Alphonse