Today previous podcast guest Heather Dobson joins me once again; in our last conversation we discussed life, chasing ghosts, and some of her more astonishing experiences with Paranormal Georgia Investigators. This time around, Heather and I examine our writing processes; she poured a lot of herself into her book, Memoirs of a Future Ghost, we talk at length about the therapeutic process of spilling your guts out onto the page for both non-fiction and fiction stories.
Heather tells me how writing her memoir was therapeutic for her (2:05), we discuss how there’s always some nugget of truth in every book–even fiction (4:37), why we both disguise some real life characters in our writing (11:49), how we’re constantly learning–especially through bad experiences (17:05), why we both thrive on alone time as writers (19:55), how eating chocolate and watching 80s TV–especially TJ Hooker–helps Heather cope with writing about tough subjects (22:25), we discuss some of our favorite memoirs we read and why Heather is obsessed with British royals (23:20), and we offer up some advice for aspiring authors (31:54) including the reality that its perfectly OK to suck (34:33)!
Learn all about Heather Dobson and get your signed copy of Memoirs of a Future Ghost, find her here: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her website and Paranormal Georgia Investigators.
Subscribe to Southern Life Indian Wife where you listen to podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Tunein. Keep up to date with the podcast and my upcoming book news by following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
I’m a lifelong Southerner married to an Indian man who grew up in South Africa during apartheid.
And I am fiercely proud of both. If you don’t like that Well bless your heart. I’m Sheryl Prabhoo and this is Southern Life Indian Wife. Well here we go again. Yes ma’am. Welcome back to Southern Life Indian Wife thank you for having me.
So if you’re new to the podcast you didn’t hear my earlier episode with Heather Dobson but Heather Dobson is an author there is her book. There’s my baby ‘Memoirs of a Future Ghost’ and she is also a dear friend of mine, a former neighbor, and a paranormal investigator. I look for ghosts. Yes. And in our earlier episode we just talked about just different things about her life. What it’s like to chase ghosts and what it’s like to hear a ghost say which totally freaked me out. But today we’re going to talk about what it was like to write our books. Yes and why we wrote our books because she wrote a memoir. And I wrote a novel. This was my first book ‘The Unexpected Daughter’. And even though it’s fiction it’s very memoir- esque. I put a lot of myself into it and I know you put everything all yes into your memoir into mine. Yeah. And so we’re going to talk about why we writers write what we do. And my theory is that we’re pretty crazy. Yes I think there’s like a whole lot of wacky mental illness that goes into wanting to write a book Taking the time out of your life to write a book. Yes. And the stuff that we put in it. Yes very much so. Yeah. So basically when I when I do talks about my book I just tell people that it was cheaper to write the book than therapy. Yes. And in a way it was because writing the book was cheap. Now the editing and all of that stuff was not cheap. We don’t need to talk about that. So was writing memoirs of a future ghost kind of therapeutic for you.
It was very therapeutic. And honestly for me investigating the paranormal was my first set of therapy my first round of therapy because you know I had. If you listen to the previous podcast you know I talked about my anxiety with death and you know my issues with that. And so I needed to investigate the paranormal to understand what death is all about. And so you know the writing my book was very therapeutic and in a in a sense that I could take that anxiety and show it to other people so that maybe they don’t feel so alone and and share that and help them understand you’re not alone. You know when it’s dark at night and you’re laying in bed and your mind is racing it’s OK. There are other people out there going through the same thing. And there are answers. Ok so yeah yeah that makes sense.
And you know one of the reasons that I wrote my novel was for the same reason you know part of it was purging all of my ghosts and the demons and stuff I couldn’t say to people right. Right. But I disguised it in fun ways with fictional characters. I love that. Yeah it was so fun. But a lot of it is you know showing people that they’re not alone.
The book is about you know an intercultural relationship and family with Indian tradition and how it clashes with Southern white culture and you know these crazy people. Right. But you don’t have to be Indian or Southern to get something out of it.
Right. Exactly. And I think even to just just something as not so different as Indian vs. Southern American just a Southerner marrying a Yankee yes or you know just anything like that. There is such a culture clash even within our own country and sometimes I feel that with my husband a little bit because you know I’m a hillbilly and he’s a good Southern boy and it’s like Yeah there’s a big difference there is a big difference but no. And that’s good that you were able to write that. And and you know show other people who are in multicultural relationships or even just whether it’s a marriage or just dating or just friends to you know share that with people.
Yeah. And I think that’s the beauty of any kind of book whether it’s a memoir or fiction. You know you put yourself in somebody else’s shoes and you see or feel a part of yourself in whatever you’re reading right and you bring something of yourself that’s different than even what the author intended. Right.
Think what I always feel like there’s a nugget of truth in every book whether it’s fiction or nonfiction you know or especially it’s nonfiction. But if it’s fiction there’s the author is always in there somewhere. And I remember you know back in college reading ‘Interview with a Vampir’e by Anne Rice. It was the best book. Absolutely adored that book. And then later on reading that you know her daughter had died from leukemia. Oh and so the character of the little girl vampire I can’t remember her name for the life of me. That was her daughter Kirsten Dunst. Yeah yeah. The actress. But that was her daughter. That was her way of keeping her daughter alive.
OK. And so it was like OK even in a book about vampires there’s a piece of the author’s life in that book and you know that turns you on to reading. Exactly. And it makes you want to read it and find out more about that person.
Yeah. And I I always feel like there’s such a power to stories whether they’re in a or you know stories being told on a podcast or even a series that you binge watch on Netflix. There’s that power to stories right. People crave. Right. So let’s just kind of give a rundown on each of the books so that people that are listening and watching kind of know what we’re talking about. Yeah. So you go first.
So Memoirs of a future ghost it’s about my experiences as a paranormal investigator. It actually started out as a much longer book twice the size. So I cut it in half. The second book will be out next summer.
And this book starts out with my childhood growing up in West Virginia in the land of the paranormal and really exploring my anxiety over death and how I coped with that by joining an investigative group. And the second book will cover more of those investigations. But some of the investigations are in here and the experiences I’ve had the ghosts I’ve seen and that type of thing.
So well ok. I’ve been to one of your presentations with the video and the audio from your investigations. And I wanted to cry.
Yeah yeah. So my hat goes off doing that. Thank you.
Wow. OK so the unexpected daughter is. It’s got three main characters.
It’s about Jenny who is a young dentist from south Georgia who goes to dental school in Memphis and she meets this very dashing handsome Indian guy who’s in her class and he’s just kind of you know he’s just kind of a party guy. They just become friends and do their study dates and the night of their graduation they consummate their secret crushes. There you go. They had on each other. So basically they hook up and they wake up the next morning and they’re like oh crap what did we do. And they’re trying to the wrestling with their feelings. She knows he’s already engaged in an arranged marriage to an Indian woman and she wants nothing to do with having a relationship but she’s like OK I really like this guy.
Well what cinches it for her is that she’s getting ready you know getting ready to do the walk of shame clean up in the bathroom and his mother with her dangly bangles and a Hall of Food uses her key to let herself into his apartment to deliver her breakfast love away. Yes and of no boundaries no boundaries. So of course Jenny is looking like the ho to this traditional Indian mob. And very ago they they just decide they cannot have a relationship. Oh I don’t know if I mentioned the other characters names. Rosen is the guy and his mother’s name is Aesha. And so Roshen goes this separate way have goes ahead through with his arranged marriage. He and his wife and his mother have a traditional Indian life living together. Jenny goes off and does her thing and makes her money at her practice and doesn’t have a man in her life.
She’s she just doesn’t have time for that.
And she and Roshen meet back up again a decade later at a dental conference which is very similar to a dental conference that’s held here in Atlanta Georgia either and two and seen a few scandalous things perfect.
And they hook back up there and the rest just turns into tragedy and deceit and love and passion and all kinds of fun stuff. That’s awesome. Yes that is my novel. Yes. And it’s a good one. I think read it and read ‘Memoirs of a Future Ghost. Absolutely. So let’s talk a little bit about being crazy. YES! We authors are crazy. You know most people know about the famous earning Ernest Hemingway how he was an alcoholic and he committed suicide. And he wrote his books while he was drunk. He suffered from all of this depression. You know writing was part of either contributing to or purging his mental illness. And I don’t know he’s not here to talk about it. And for me writing the unexpected daughter was similar to that because I was raising five kids trying to figure out who I was wrestling with. All of this cultural Indian stuff with my Indian husband and mother in law and father in law and a bunch of kids and going through a tough time in my marriage and so totally it was therapy and I would sit down and cry when I was writing this book. Yeah. So was it like that for you.
It was because not only was it you know not only am I talking about the investigations I’ve gone on but you know I also talked about my father’s death in here. There’s also some mother daughter issues that I go through and I remember the chapter about my father’s death. And writing it and sending it off to our editor. Yeah. We share an editor. His name is Wayne and he’s amazing. Yes. I don’t know what I’d do without him. And the response I got from him was I want more. And I remember crying while I was writing this chapter you know giving him more. And you know sent you know after I finished it I gorged on chocolate and and sent him an e-mail and I was like I’m done. I love you but I’m done. That’s all I can give. Right. Exactly. And it still makes me cry. I mean I read the chapter to my grandmother who’s blind and can’t read on her own and unfortunately I don’t have this on audio for her and so I read that chapter to her and cried again. And so it’s very therapeutic to get that out there and share that and and to be able to like I said you know share that with people and let them know that they’re not alone. It’s you know it’s been 21 years and I still cry over his death.
So yeah that that’s got to be really really hard. It is. And OK since this is a memoir and we all know that if you don’t know a memoir is about a theme or a part of your life it’s not an autobiography and they’re characters in your life that participate in these stories exactly when you can’t name these people you have to disguise these people I have to disguise the Michael our clients the Paranormal Georgia’s clients you know my fellow investigators they’re like Oh heck yeah use my name.
So when you see the name Jordan or Tammy or Clint. Those are real people and those are their real names.
But when you when you read about the client who believed aliens were landing in his backyard and his name is Fox Well his name really isn’t Fox. Yeah you know crazy like a fox… well Fox Mulder. More like taking it from Fox Mulder. It could be crazy. Yeah. You know some of the genders I’ve I’ve changed towns they lived in. I’ve changed because you know I don’t want people and I don’t want them to recognize themselves in this book. You know some investigations I combined. OK. You know and and merged and yeah so I did have to create characters know the settings happened. And my second book there’s a chapter about investigating a driveway Why. Yes I investigated a driveway.
So somebody had a ghost walking up and down their driveway. How do you tell because there’s no doors.
Oh I know right. Exactly. No floors to create. Exactly. Yeah. So. But you know I changed the name of the couple when I changed the location and I know the dialogue is a little bit different. But yes I investigated a driveway Inn in Atlanta. OK there you go.
You know to each his own. Exactly. Yeah whatever. Wow. Well were there any instance instances in there where you felt like you were going to offend somebody maybe not a client. Probably in your life. And yeah. Did that worry you did that give you anxiety.
I would say that the biggest anxiety with this with this book is just the previous investigative team that I was a member of the person who founded that team and ran it for a long time is I mean a nice person overall if you were to meet her you would think she was nice but she didn’t have very good managerial skills honestly. And so I changed her name I changed the name of the investigative group but she will know that it’s her. OK. And I do worry about her response if she’s going to have a response or shall even read it yet. Maybe she will maybe she won’t but that’s about it.
But if she’s depicted as you know not a likable person perhaps she won’t come out because people don’t want to claim oh that’s me that’s total I like an ass in the book that’s totally me.
Yeah you know and then I do mention in passing you know because this book does talk about my childhood I feel a little bit about my teenage years so I do mentioned in passing the not so great freshman roomate I had in college and I know she’s reading the book because she bought a copy from me. You know I mentioned in passing that. You know Junior High was great high school was awful because of some of my friends and I know a couple of those friends of ordered OK ordered copies of the book. So it’s like I don’t I don’t call people out by name but I do I am honest and that you know people made my life a little bit difficult. And so it’s OK. I hope you still like it. Yeah well that that’s that’s the hard part about a memoir is that I mean you know you’re trying to be honest but you can’t you know you have to bear that honest. You have to put it out there and you can’t hide it. And you know even though you’re not mentioning names sometimes that person is going to read it. Know that that was them. They were the cause of that.
And you know you you talk about how you have to bear the results of that honesty. And for me I had this story that had to get out about sort of the things that I was going through. But the reason I put it into fiction right form is because I couldn’t bear it yet. Right. And I remember when I was writing the book I didn’t tell anybody I was writing a book. Most of my friends didn’t didn’t even know that I had a blog. Yeah. But I was writing all of these things and it was easier for me to put my life out there for the online world. The international world there for me to talk about it with my neighbors. Right at the pool or you know happy hour. Right. And I would sit in Starbucks working on this dang book for three or four years isolated but I’m working out my stories and turning these characters into fictional characters that no one would recognize and I wasn’t even willing to come out of the closet and say I was writing because I was afraid of the reaction that people were going to give me. Right. Either they were going to say you’re a fraud and you can’t write a book and it sucks. You have no right to do this. Exactly. Or you’re writing about me. And the stuff that I was writing about it was all this family stuff like you know because my husband is Indian he’s very Americanized but we still had so many differences and you know how you relate to parents you know what role do your parents have. Can your parents come into your house you know with their house key and walk in on you know when you’re just getting out the shower. Right now we have those issues but I couldn’t write that right. Exactly. So I had to turn the in-laws into even crazier people. Right.
That they’re not recognizable. Yeah. There is a grain of truth in there. Definitely definitely. But here’s the thing. Even though you know even though there are instances in this book that may not you know and people in this book that may not look their best because of what happened I have a very wise sorority sister. Like she had the mentality of a 100 year old when she was a teenager. And it’s because of her that you know I feel like I’ve learned a lot of good life lessons from her Laurie and I’m talking about you as human beings we learn constantly and even when bad things happen you’re learning now the woman that I talk about who ran the previous paranormal investigative group do I want to go out and have a beer with her. Not really but I learned from her and I learned valuable things from that experience and I appreciate that. Yes. That I’ve learned from that. And you know whether she meant to or not you know we were all providing life lessons for the people around us. And even if it’s negative in nature I appreciate what I took away from that relationship with her. And I thank her for that.
Yeah yeah. There’s a place in your world in your universe for that to have happened.
Exactly. And so and that’s fine that’s fine.
And it’s it’s very therapeutic. Yes. Just get it out there on the paper. Exactly. I was going go into therapy during the time that I was writing this. And I mean my therapist was good and a lot of ways but she would downplay the role of what this writing had for me in my life. Yeah and I would say look you know this is my story. I’m getting it out there. I cry when I do it. But you know it’s good. It’s out. And she would say you know what is going to fix you. You need to just go get a corporate job. Quit writing a book and make yourself feel useful in the real world. And I was like Honey you don’t know you’re talking to a writer I can’t not write.
No. Yeah yeah go on to her and I just finished the damn book. Good. Good for you. Good for you because yeah I you know my one of my favorite movies is clerks and one of my favorite quotes from clerks is you know you hate people but I love gatherings. And that’s that’s me. It’s not that you know I just I don’t like interacting with people on a daily basis. And that’s what great about writing is that I can interact with people from afar and corporate job would not.
No not me. Not at all. No but you know you talk about how you aren’t interacting with people on a daily basis when you’re writing. And for me that’s a good thing you know because I’m in my head and writing but also it fed into that crazy and it still does because I’m writing another book and maybe I’m just crazy. Thank you. There you go. That’s very well that’s OK. But when you’re sitting there in front of the laptop by yourself you’re in this world and you’re in a room with the windows closed you know the shades closed or whatever it is isolating and there have been times when I’ve gotten depressed because I’m just there by myself and I’m trying to get this done.
So does it ever have that opposite effect for you.
I feel very refreshed after I write. I feel reenergized because I thrive on that alone time. Mm hmm. You know being with people I mean I enjoy being with people like I’m going to go out to dinner with some girlfriends Thursday night and I’m going to enjoy that but then I’m going to need to come home and not talk to anyone for a couple of hours. And so when I write you know I’ve got my little corner and I can see outside and I can see the trees and I play my 40s music you know so I got I got bingo on and I got Frank going and I’m on his own and it makes me very happy. And I would say I get depressed when I go back and reread my stuff because then I’m like this is crap crap. This is ridiculous. I hate. It sounded fabulous when I was right and then I and then I don’t even touch my desk for days and days. So I feel like if I write I’m good. If I go back and read that’s bad. Yeah. Yeah. I can’t reread it. It’s just it’s just going to have to go to Wayne no matter the state it’s in. Yeah. I’ve used him for that. Yeah. In fact the second book I just sent my second book to edits and there was a chapter that I was really excited about writing I was going to be such a fun chapter. It’s crap. Guys it’s awful. I hate that chapter and in fact I sent it to him with a comment that said I hate this chapter. I hate this chapter. I’ve no idea what’s going to happen to it but we’ll see.
He’s going to give you some uplifting comment. Yeah. Exactly. Basically a forever. Yeah. You do it you do it. But you know then he’ll help you. Yeah. Exactly. Yeah well you know the writing. You know I get depressed sometimes I get sort of you know this is fantastic but maybe I just need to take a little more Prozac and just move forward. Maybe that’ll help me just finish the book two Zoloft today and yeah it’s just one maybe a glass of wine that would be bad. That would be bad. I don’t know. You probably know the phrase that people attribute to Ernest Hemingway but he didn’t really say it. Right. Drunk at it sober. Yeah I’ve. I have written after like the third glass of wine. But you know it is amazing in the moment and then the next day it’s crap it’s crap.
Yeah. Well for me I’m not a big drinker. I’ve never really enjoyed alcohol. So for me it’s more I drink or I write and I edit sober but like you know the chapter about my father the chapter where I talk about you know my family getting blown up when I was twelve years old. You know that’s. I write that. And then I go get a large quantity of chocolate and I watch reruns of T.J. Hooker T.J. Hooker I haven’t thought about that show and gosh I love that show. So that’s that’s my therapy. OK. OK. I’ve put that on paper and that was horrifying. And so now I’m going to go eat chocolate and watch crappy 80s TV. Awesome awesome. So that’s what I do.
That sounds like fun. Yeah. So are there any memoirs that you’ve read before that you really like. Did anything hire you to write this I’ve got a few.
Well it’s funny because the memoirs that I like to read are about the British royal family because I’m obsessed with Are you royalty. Oh my gosh you know A.S. Margaret. Queen Elizabeth the Duchess of York. I just love it all.
What is it that you love about them? Because I look at them on TV and I’m like you know what they think they’re all that and I just you know they’re involved in the sex trafficking scandal.
I know Prince Andrew is really disappointing me right now. They’re already. But what’s behind it all. But I don’t know. I guess it’s just because as an American you know there is no monarchy either. It’s it’s just the idea of this family that is royalty simply due to birth right. And you know sparkly jewels might have something to do with it. Yeah pretty dresses and the titles but I don’t know. And so I would have to say that those are my favorite biographies and memoirs to read. My favorite non-fiction author is Bill Bryson and he’s written you know he’s written about language he’s written about England. He’s written about his life. He wrote a book about science like this crazy huge book you know coming from a man who knows nothing about science. He wrote about everything science he wrote about the home you know why do we call for your why do we call it the kitchen why do we wire certain things the way they are in our homes anyway all these things that I’ve never once given a thought I know but it’s exactly. Well he was born in Kansas and he. He’s lived his adult life in the UK so he’s got this funny sort of Midwestern sensibility with a British sense of humor. And I love his stuff like if I could write like him my day would be made. He’s my favorite non-fiction slash memoir author.
Okay so yeah. So you like to read about the upper class stay up above where he laughs and I like to read about the people that are coming from the down India. Yeah maybe it’s because I like to feel a little superior. There you go. Yeah but the class castle walls right. You read that. No I haven’t. That is about a woman who comes from the coal hills of West Virginia. Interesting. You know the interesting upbringing that she has with parents who you know I don’t know if she comes out and says it but I’m assuming that they have mental illness and they end up living in.
I think they’re squatters in a apartment in New York City. And when she discovers her mother going through the trash as she’s on her way to a gala for I don’t I don’t remember all the details but she’s an editor you know a high priced editor in New York City right. So I like and my family’s from Kentucky and they’re not from the hills of Kentucky but they’re good people. Yeah. You know my mom said that some of her relatives just a generation ago lived with chickens in their house. Right. So that’s that’s where they came from. Right. And then hillbilly LG OK. JT Vance OK you read this now it’s a must read. It’s been kind of panned by critics because they people say that he doesn’t really give an accurate portrayal of what the hillbilly life was in Kentucky right. But I just like it because I can relate to it. And there’s a lot of good that isn’t there there’s a lot of truth in there. And I think even if I don’t think any memoir is a complete truth. No. And his is not a complete truth. But it has meaning and it has a story to write. And you know he came from beginnings that were more meager than mine and so I do feel a little bit like I didn’t have it quite so well and I.
And you know you know talking about those books it’s it’s you know my my paternal grandfather was a coal miner and he died from black lung. And I have coal mining you know family cousins who you know had siblings who died from a spinal meningitis outbreak due to flooding of Paint Creek in West Virginia. And just so I guess maybe that’s why I don’t enjoy reading those stories because even though I personally did not grow up in a coal mining town you know I heard those stories as a child growing up from my father and my cousins and it’s like OK Queen Elizabeth make my day better. Yeah yeah talk to me about your nannies and yes all that stuff is a little too close to home yeah I’m good. Yeah yeah definitely. I’m gonna do what makes you feel good.
Exactly yeah. Have you done any book clubs. Because I do book clubs with my novel. Yeah. I have not. OK. So if you’re listening or watching you definitely need to have your book club read memoirs of a future ghost. But when you do when you do do do a book club you’re going to get questions and there’s gonna be common questions that readers will ask you. Right. There’s just seems to be themes that come from everybody. So I just wanted to share some of those.
The very first question that I get from people across the board is how much of this book is the true story. Right. And none of that’s the true story right. Based on feelings it’s based on things that I’ve learned but none of it is true. It’s fiction right.
And so we need to make that clarification for people. Novel is fiction novel is fiction right. It’s not real memoir nonfiction. It’s real it’s real. Yes. So just so people know that because everybody isn’t they don’t remember everything from eighth grade English.
Exactly yeah. Or I know I don’t know for sure and people will tell me Oh I learned a lot about Indian food and Indian culture which is kind of cool. Yeah. So you know that makes me well.
And I would say too it’s almost like. And that’s a good thing especially in the United States considering that we have so much exposure to Chinese culture because of the 19th century influx of Chinese immigrants and Italian culture and you know south of the border you know Mexican Central American but Indian really isn’t a culture that most Southern Americans are exposed to. Yeah. And so that’s your book has done an amazing thing with exposing everyone to that side of the world.
So yeah I guess so it really has provided some sort of education. Yes. And you know talking about how people are not really familiar with Indian culture. It blew me away and really came into focus last week when there’s a book reviewer author Facebook group and a bunch of authors did giveaways on this group. And you were supposed to tell about your book and then ask your potential readers a question and their answer to the question was the entry to the contest only a free book from you right. And so my question was I told him about the Indian culture and the story and I said What is your favorite Indian food. And if you’ve never tried it why the heck not right. And I would say over 50 percent maybe even closer to 75 percent of the people and this is international members. I’ve never tried Indian food. Oh wow. What is Indian food. And I’m like What. How is that even possible because I’ve been living in this for you know almost 30 years how horrible.
Well I had an older family member who I mentioned your book to them and they thought I was talking about Native Americans also in her mind she’s thinking you’re married to like a Cherokee gentleman or something I’m like No Yeah India Indian people are pretty misinformed right.
You know this is probably going to offend somebody but it is something that people say when South Asian Indian people to be funny when they’re asked Oh what tribe are you from.
They’ll say No no no no “I’m dot not feather”. It’s not meant to offend. There you go have to put it on the level that some people can understand exotic not necessarily because they’re stupid they just haven’t learned right.
Exact Yeah I ran into someone at a school who was a recent anthropologyh Ph D. OK. Wow. Told him about my story was very clear in the details of my life my story. Mm hmm. South Asian culture. And he asked me. Oh. After the whole thing.
What tribe is your husband from?
I don’t know where he got that PhD from. It’s like a blank blank blank blank. So would you give any advice to anyone that comes up to you because this is gonna happen. Oh you’re an author I’ve always wanted to write a book. You’re an author. I’ve always wanted to write a book. Here’s the story. Would you like to hear it and they tell you. If you have somebody come up to you and say really I’ve wanted to do what you do.
Yeah. How do I do it. It’s funny because I had no idea how to do it. When I started doing it almost three years ago it was just and I had known for a long time that I wanted to write and I had talked to you and you had mentioned Oh yeah I’m writing a book and I’m like How is she doing that?? Five kids! Because she’s crazy and she drinks wine. And so honestly having you tell me you were writing a book was like What is my damage like why can’t I write a book. What’s my problem. If Sheryl can do it why can’t I do it you know because she’s so busy and her and I think even at the time weren’t you going back to school. I was home my I was so full time student teaching yeah… stay at home mom student teaching going to school writing a book I was like. Yeah. But. All I’m doing is watching T.J. Hooker. OK why can’t I write a book. And so my read my my my advice to people would be to start writing don’t don’t think about it. Pick what you want to write and even if you haven’t chosen even if you’re like wow do I do a memoir do I do a romance. Do I do a miss a murder mystery. Just start putting down chapters just in turn you know start with short stories start with a chapter idea and start building from there. And talk to other writers. That was what I was going to say. Go community go go. You know to talk to people about you know your process and not everybody’s process is the same but if you you know pick and choose from what works for other people it might work for you as well. And when you start getting that community going. Of other writers that’s when you get editors. That’s when you oh you know I need to know if you decide to self publish OK I need to do this to market my book. I need to do that I need to do the legwork. But it definitely helps to have that community to talk to and to also encourage you. But I mean the first step is always the step that you have to take of sitting down at your computer or sitting down with your notebook and getting it on paper.
Yeah I think giving yourself permission. Right. And it’s OK to get it out. It’s OK to get it out. It’s OK to suck. It’s OK to write.
Crappy stuff. I mean because I have a whole book at home of really bad poetry. That’s what I started out doing. Oh it’s really bad. It’s never going to see the light of day by the way that’s like in my will burn me with the book. Yeah. But it’s to go away. Yeah but you know it’s it’s OK and it’s OK to have those notebooks of things that you put aside that never see the light of day because it does take practice. It’s like playing the piano it’s like doing embroidery it takes practice. Yeah. And the more you do it the better you get at it.
Oh definitely. Absolutely. Yeah yeah. And if you’re somebody who isn’t interested in writing because there’s a whole lot of people out there that that’s just not their thing. Right. But you’re feeling crazy and you need to know that somebody else out there is going through things memoirs and you know fiction they’re just such a great resource. Yes.
So you know if there’s somebody out there right now that’s struggling with their fear of death or really curious about you know the things that go bump in the night in their house they need to read your book because they know that you’ve been through that. Right. Exactly. And anybody that might be going through you know marriage family issues you know there’s all kinds of issues going on and my crazy book because so pretty much you know pick your crazy poison and it’s in there. All right. You know you get something out of that. Exactly. Yes. So I guess the message is pick up a book just pick up a book and helps you so much mentally and if you’re inclined write one.
And yeah it’s great there and you’re going to find and definitely read as an author you should still be reading and you know you’re going to find voices that really appeal to you. And like Jenny Lawson she started out as a blogger. The blog yes. And I love her stuff. She cracks me up. I was reading her back before she published her first book. Let’s pretend this never happened and you know I love her voice would I love to be her. Probably not. Because when we talk about depression and anxiety and that kind of thing she’s got it in spades. But I would love to have her voice like her voice appeals to me so much. And so you know don’t plagiarize your favorite authors but you know find a voice of an author that you like and try that voice on for size and and see when it’s mixed with your voice does that work for you and that type of thing.
So yeah I agree. You know if you’re even if you’re not a writer that’s so key in finding a book that you connect with. Yeah you can just tell in the first few pages. Maybe a great story but oh I don’t like the writing style right. Or it may have a fantastic writing style and you weren’t necessarily interested in the story but you get hooked right.
You just have to find that right. Yeah OK. So what’s next for you. You have another.
Yeah I’ve got. So the second book will be ‘Recollections of a Future Ghost’ and its continuation of this and it’s more about the investigations that I’ve done and just the different scenarios that I’ve had to come up against investigating the paranormal. And I think you know what inspired me to do this book was in the first place was just watching the paranormal reality shows that are anything like reality Ha ha. You know I’m not like Zak Bagans I don’t get possessed every investigation you know. I don’t we don’t always find evidence and most the time the living is more interesting and more scary than the dead. I can definitely see that and more tragic. And so you know I wanted to write books that were more of a reality about investigating the paranormal than what you see on Saturday night television. And so I’ve got and there will be a third book so there will be a trilogy of sorts and then actually I Ah ah I already have an idea for my fourth book which won’t be anything like this or the other two. It would be more in line with the unexpected daughter of pulling for my wife and my experiences and writing a fictional novel. So that sounds exciting too. Yeah well I don’t know. They’re there. You know it’s like it’s that moment of I know people are gonna recognize themselves and it’s like I’ll make them happy but I gotta get it out.
Well yeah you gotta get it out and you just make sure that you talk to an attorney and make sure you cover yes but nobody can sue you.
But I’ve changed genders and names.
But yeah so that I actually Yeah I’m already because as an author that’s that’s the other hard part about being an author it’s like you can’t really bask in this glow.
No you’ve got to have number two in the works and then number three and then haha yeah you’ve got people like me saying OK you just put this book out what’s next what’s next. Yeah yeah. And I’ve taken gosh it’s two years since ‘The Unexpected Daughter’ was published and has taken me that long to almost finished my second book. Right. So I’m a little behind the game right. But my next book is a memoir and it’s gonna be called ‘Southern Life Indian Wife’ just like the podcast. Excellent. And that is the true story in that you know people ask me that after book clubs when is the true story. Well if you’ve read the unexpected daughter you’re going to love the memoir because it starts the night that my husband and I get divorced. That’s the scene where he comes home from a court with the court documents.
He comes home not to an apartment. He comes home because he still lives with us. Right. And we look at each other and we’re friends and then we huff and puff and turn away from each other and that’s it. And then it’s the story of how we met. And struggled I struggled through the Indian culture here in the south and our divorce and the stalker that let himself into my house which was super fun. Oh my gosh yeah. And how we both were able to kind of be apart and find out who we were. And then I won’t tell you the rest but it’s happy.
Yeah yeah. And so that should be out in a few months. Good. Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Okay. And I probably will be drinking wine or taking Prozac or one or the other because I need to do that. Yes. Writing is therapy. But then the books is done and you have to move on to something else. Exactly. Those demons. Exactly. Well thank you for being here. Thanks for having me. Your horse your process. Thank you ma’am. Yes. I hope to have you again. Of course I would love to come back.
Best of luck with ‘Memoirs of a Future Ghost’ and it’ll be on my Web site where you can find signed copies yes where you can order it from and where you can see Heather in events. Yes most definitely.
If you like this podcast so far. Please continue following along by tapping the subscribe button wherever you listen to podcasts. If you really liked it go on be awesome and leave a rating and a review. Find me on all social media too by searching Sheryl with an S.. Par bhoo. That’s p a r b h o o. Thanks for listening to ‘Southern Life. Indian Wife.’