Oh friends, treat of treats: I’ve got a dear friend here with us today, showcasing her first novel! Leigh Kramer and I met years ago at a coffee shop in between Nashville and Huntsville; I felt rather starry-eyed sitting across from her that day. Eventually, our paths overlapped when we both lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and at a favorite writing festival. Now, I’m starry-eyed again, but this time with delight for her words in A Storied Life. The novel is gorgeous …enter into the story behind the story and grab a copy for yourself!
Tell us a bit about yourself, will you? I was a medical social worker for several years, primarily working in hospice and child and teen bereavement. I then moved onto the admin world and currently work as a virtual assistant. A Storied Life is my first novel and hopefully it won’t be the last. Writing fiction is a dream come true!
I’m originally from the Chicago suburbs but I’ve also lived in Nashville and San Francisco and I really miss living in all of these places. I currently live in the Twin Cities. I’m an Enneagram Four, INFJ, and Ravenclaw. I’m also a huge reader and lifelong Chicago White Sox fan.
Let’s talk about your book: what, in a nutshell, is your book about anyway? A Storied Life is about Olivia, an art gallery owner, and her grandmother Ella May. Gram is diagnosed with cancer and not only decides to forgo treatment and sign up for hospice, she wants Olivia to be her primary caregiver. This is not a popular decision with the rest of the family, to say the least, but Olivia is determined to see Gram through this, no matter the cost.
And then because life carries on no matter what else you’re going through and even if the timing couldn’t be worse, there’s a love story.
Weaving together grief and beauty, humor and romance, A Storied Life will make you rethink life, love, and loss.
Do tell, what was the inspiration behind it? A year or two after my grandma died, I noticed there were stories about grief in fiction but I couldn’t come up with any that delved into hospice or had a healthy approach to end of life care. That’s something I care about a ton because I used to be a hospice social worker. I was drawing from my professional experience, as well as my personal losses.
But the idea first came to me when I heard a Switchfoot song on the radio. I heard the chorus for This Is Your Life and all of a sudden a scene leaped into my mind and I knew I needed to know more about this woman and her reaction to the song.
How do you hope readers will be changed by your words? Death and loss are a part of life. By seeing the Frasier family walk through their own end of life experience, I hope others will have a better understanding of how hospice works and what it looks like to grieve a loss before, during, and after. It’s hard and it’s sad but that is the bittersweet reality of being in relationship with others. We don’t have to walk that road alone, however. There’s so much help and support available to us.
Lest we forget to ask, how have YOU been changed by writing the book? The biggest thing was discovering I can actually write a novel! Ever since I was a little kid, writing was my dream job but it’s one thing to dream about it and another to act on it. When the idea for this novel first came to mind, I was excited but also worried I didn’t have what it took.
I told my best friend I was thinking about trying to write a novel and she did not hesitate to tell me I should do it. That gave me the confidence to develop an outline and see it through. As I got further into the writing process, I discovered characters really do talk to their authors. It was such a fascinating experience.
How and where can we find you on the internet?
Well friends, there you go! I’m about halfway through A Storied Life and cannot put it down (which is a lot to say for an Enneagram Seven who has an innate desire to run from pain). Leave a comment for Leigh and tell her why you’d like to win a copy of her book. Also, visit my Instagram account in a couple of days for more chances to win! Winner will be drawn this Friday. Good luck!
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