Last Updated on: June 21st, 2016
Today I’m pleased to have memoir author Elaine C. Pereira as my interview guest. I’ve read her book, I Will Never Forget, and it touched me so deeply that I ended up writing a letter to my son. You may remember Elaine from her guest post two weeks ago. Today, she’s taken the time to answer my questions, and will be available if you have any questions of your own (just ask them in the comment section)!
My Review of I Will Never Forget
Here is my review of this moving story, which I posted to both Goodreads and Amazon:
I Will Never Forget is Elaine Pereira’s beautiful yet heart-wrenching tribute to her mother. Never before have I read a memoir, and I was impressed with the light manner in which this story was written. Infused with humour, the author makes the most out of a difficult situation, making her book enjoyable to read despite the heartbreaking tale she tells. Keep a box of tissues handy – you’ll need them! I teared up many times while reading the author’s touching words, and was bawling when I read the last word. The poem written by the author, found at the end of the book, warmed my heart. It was lovely!
Through the author, the reader gets to know her family, and is able to identify with them as memories are related and glimpses into the author’s personal struggles are revealed. The style in which this book is written provides pieces of the puzzle that many sufferers of dementia face, and the reader can both commiserate with and find compassion for Elaine, the author, a feisty, spunky woman who truly did all she could for her wonderful mother while she was alive. I’m sure her mom is looking down on her only daughter with pride. I would, if I were her!
I highly recommend this book. I Will Never Forget will touch you in ways you cannot imagine or fathom. You will definitely not regret reading it. Besides, shedding a few or more tears is always good for the soul.
LR: Did you write I Will Never Forget, in part, to allay any residual feelings of guilt you may have had, or have?
EP: I didn’t really feel guilty with regards to my mom or her care. I feel ignorant of the signs of decline “in plain site” but not guilty because I missed them: stupid maybe, but not guilty. Mom was fiercely independent and averse to having her “kids” take care of her. She just wanted respectful care, companionship, visits, etc as and if she needed them.
LR: If so, did you find writing it to be therapeutic? If not, do you find writing to be therapeutic?
EP: Writing the book was very cathartic. My mother was so vivacious that it was critically important to me to remember her as she had been for so much of my life and not the withering, mumbling older woman in the bed. I was probably driven to capture on paper my memories to preserve them indefinitely.
LR: Would you like one of your daughters to write about you someday, continuing the tradition, for future generations to read? Is this something you have discussed with them?
EP: Honestly, whatever they want to do. I have no expectation of, nor a private wish that I be immortalized in a book. I wrote I Will Never Forget to convey hope and reassure caregivers and family members that they are not alone. My mom was a more private person than I am and she would not have wanted her story told unless if served to help others, which it does.
LR: Do you have another book planned? Are you currently working on any other projects? Do any involve writing?
EP: I do not have another book planned at this time, but it could happen if I was inspired by a specific story (even fictional). I am working tirelessly to bring Awareness of Alzheimer’s and Dementia issues and support to others. That is why I donate from each book I sell to forward Alzheimer’s research.
I write for the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Maria Shriver Architects of Change and Endear for Alzheimer’s. These amazing sites afford me a platform through which to further my awareness and support message. So, yes, I am always writing something.
LR: What are some of the things on your bucket list? What have you done already, and what do you still want to do?
EP: For the longest time, travel was #1 on my bucket list. I haven’t been everywhere, but I have been to some incredible places: In the US: almost all of the states including Hawaii but not Alaska. ALL of Europe including the Roman ruins, a bull-fight in Spain, the Swiss Alps, changing of the guard in London, and every other country’s tourist treasures. I’ve also been to Australia, the Parthenon, Hong Kong, Seoul Korea.
Now I’m traveled out, though, and cocooning at home suits me more. Our bucket list includes: an Indie 500 type race; apparently there’s the MI International Speedway which might suffice, the casinos – there are several now in Detroit but my husband and I haven’t been together, a professional football game, ballroom dancing lessons.
Shooting a gun was accomplished last year; I needed to know how it felt in a safe and controlled environment. My list still includes driving a semi-, dump truck or airplane forward! I’m petite and their size frickin’ intimidates me, so no reverse driving, just forward! Hang gliding.
LR: How hard was it to write this book? Didn’t you cry profusely while writing it? How did you cope?
EP: The book practically wrote itself. It poured out at times. I couldn’t keyboard fast enough sometimes to get the words out. I wrote on loose leaf paper, sticky notes, a dragon dictation (that was a bust for me because I talk too fast), scratch pads, etc. I knew almost all of the facts so research wasn’t an issue.
I cried several times writing the book. Sometimes I had to stop and sometimes I had to just plow through the emotions.
LR: How did you go about publishing this book? Did you get an agent?
EP: A few months before my manuscript was finished, I started investigating my options for getting it published. A lawyer friend of mine, with several publishing industry contacts, sent out feelers in my behalf, but to no avail. Then she suggested self-publishing.
I had no idea what self-publishing was. I literally visualized cranking out page after page on some out-dated copier in my kitchen. A Google search quickly revealed a lengthy list of self-publishing companies including iUniverse. Several emails, a few phone conversations and a glass of wine or three later, I discovered that Still Alice one of the few books I had read in recent years was published by iUniverse. Good enough for me, I figured, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In early May 2012, my first copy of I Will Never Forget arrived. I burst into tears to see in “living color,” and a lot of black and white text, the culmination of a powerful true story and incredible journey.
I would love a big ticket publishing contract, as would most authors, but only to recoup by ghastly out-of-pocket expenses and the rest seriously would go to Alzheimer’s research. All you agents and publishers out there: Listen up – this one’s for you!
LR: Did you have to get the people you mention in your book to sign some type of waiver for mentioning them?
EP: I have releases from Judy Savoy and Margene Fuller but they were willing contributors to the book. The publisher’s legal department told me that I didn’t need any releases from anyone including Judy for example for factual, non-inflammatory details, including first and last names. Plus I often site that events were how I remembered them as a kid.
However, the one exception was the escape story in the chapter Houdini Mom. Because there was no public, independent and objective coverage of the situation i.e. newspaper coverage or law suit filed, iUniverse’s legal department did require that all of the relevant information be changed. There was an alternative, the specifics of which I can’t recall now legally, if I had refused to swap them out.
Actually I had asked about getting a waiver from the facility’s regional administrator but was told that would be insufficient as without corroboration it could be argued that I bribed her/him!
Because I didn’t mind changing the names (the proverbial easy button) however, the city, name of the facility, and all last names were changed consistently throughout the book IF they had any role (positive or otherwise) in the great escape. First names did not have to be changed: some were; some weren’t.
Obviously in fact-based, true or tell-all books, authenticity and accuracy are of tantamount importance. My publisher iUniverse has a legal department intended to avoid any and all possible legal fallout to them and me. I presume, but would certainly verify, that other publishers have similar scruples. But some books are true but not flattering and may in fact could be defaming even if accurate. I would certainly consult my own lawyer who specializes in content law, liable, etc to know what can be written and what disclaimers or releases are needed to be certain you are covered.
LR: What advice would you give to others (like me, in particular) for writing and publishing their memoirs?
Just start! Write anything! Write something! Just get a few words on paper or your hand, keyboard, Dictaphone (do they still make those?) The order will sort itself out later.
Not having written another book yet, I have nothing to compare it too, but I’m not sure the process of being inspired, getting started, editing, rewriting and editing some more isn’t any different for a memoir than another genre.
I’m such a visual person I literally printed out sections of my manuscript so I could see huge chunks of it all at the same time. Then I cut and paste (taped actually) paragraphs, sections or sentences together and reassembled them at the dining room table. I wrote in the margins. Perfect passages would just come and when they did, I recorded them to insert or use later.
LR: Do you have anything else you would like to add?
EP: I am genuinely humbled and grateful to have had the passion and skills to write this book. The very first independent review made me cry openly more than actually writing the book. To have someone else, whom I don’t know but who knows the publishing industry and the level at which a book must be to compete in this market, endorse it 100% (except for being too long) is an emotional experience of accomplishment I Will Never Forget! 😉
LR: Thank you so much for this interview, Elaine.
EP: You’re welcome!
Elaine Pereira is a registered/licensed Occupational Therapist with more than 35 years experience in pediatrics and a decade in adult home care. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in OT and her Master’s in Liberal Arts from Wayne State University. Elaine also holds Certifications as a Dementia Caregiver and Practitioner. She and her husband Joseph live in southeastern Michigan. Visit her blog for more information.
I Will Never Forget is Elaine’s powerful award-winning memoir written in loving tribute to her talented mother’s bizarre but humorous journey through Dementia. Elaine donates from each book she sells to Alzheimer’s research.
You can also read Unexpected but Delightful Insights from My Mom with Alzheimer’s, another post Elaine wrote, or you can simply grab a copy of her book to read from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iUniverse.
Do you have any questions for Elaine or me? Any comments? Since this is a new book on the market, I’m willing to bet that you have not yet read it. Do you want to? Share your thoughts in the comments, please!