March 10, 2013

Author Q & A: Fine, By Me

By Bob Keyes
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 2)

A: Ah, that's a tricky one because, as you know, that makes up an important part of the book. What I can say is this: Many children believe they have powers beyond human abilities. I think it's a natural way in which children cope with not being able to control even the simplest of things: What we eat, where we live, whether or not Mom and Dad get a divorce. Mine was just a really, really, really extreme example. Not only did I believe I had the power to cause things to happen, but I believed I had the power to grant life or death. 

Q: You seem to have a fascination with Samantha Smith and Anne Frank. Explain.

A: I just admire them both so much. As a child, I certainly wanted to have an impact on the world as they did, but as an adult, I view them as symbols of strength and integrity. Every moment in my life, from birth until adulthood, has led to my having this conversation with you. Every moment of the lives of your readers has led them to read these words.

In that way, everything we do affects everything else, and everyone is connected. As I said, I do have some present-day influence from my father. Samantha Smith and Anne Frank had such positive influences on the world, in ways that sometimes we don't even consider. Anne helped put a human face on individuals who went through the Holocaust. She was part of why we say, "Never forget." Samantha Smith helped put a human face on our Russian neighbors during a time when the world was literally being threatened by nuclear annihilation. Sometimes the smallest things and the youngest people can have a ripple effect that influences generations. They did that. 

Q: Talk a little about memoir writing. This is new for you. What was it like? What did you enjoy about the process? What were the challenges?

A: As far as the initial writing, I enjoyed every part of the process except the fact that I would often sit for hours in the same position and get some intense neck aches. Apparently, I am too frugal to go ergonomic. Every morning, I woke up excited to write. Writing a book is something I had wanted to do since I was 8 years old, and I realized that by doing so, I was creating the Big Life I had always dreamt of for myself. It has been incredibly fulfilling. The biggest challenges have actually come of late. I wrote. I edited. I'm getting excellent feedback.

Still, I'm finding that there is a lot of neurosis involved in putting myself out there for anyone to see. People have told me that they "really like" or even "love" what I've written. On the other hand, a few days ago, someone said to me, "I liked your book," and for two hours, I thought to myself: "She didn't say she really liked it. Maybe it's not very good." I mean, that's a level of inner critic for which I am glad I can maintain a sense of humor. That's what I call "First World" problems.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or:

Twitter: pphbkeyes


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