February 10, 2013

Author Q&A: Great 'Promise'

Maine native Priscille Sibley's acclaimed debut tells the story of a family trying to decide the fate of their comatose – and pregnant – loved one.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Priscelle Sibley

MEET THE AUTHOR

PRISCILLE SIBLEY will read and talk about her book from 1 to 3 p.m. May 18 at Sherman's Maine Books and Stationary, 128 Main St., Freeport.

Q: OK, on to the book. Quite a monumental topic here. What made you want to tell this story?

A: A long time ago, I took care of a child who was in a persistent vegetative state. It was a difficult thing. Nursing in general, we see a lot of sad things. In some way or another, you come to terms with them. This little child had suffered a severe brain injury, and he wasn't there anymore. We turned him side to side and sang him lullabies and gave him really good care. There were forces involved to not turn off his life support.

The Terri Schiavo story when it was in the news every day was eating at me, but it was that little child sitting there that really touched me. It was a personal story, not a public one. It's the people who are inside the story that are really the most important part of it, and what is right for them.

Q: You could have set it anywhere. Why Freeport?

A: When I started writing it, I didn't know how much would be inside a courtroom or inside a hospital room. It was still unformed. But down Wolfe's Neck Road is where their house is, that's a place I love. It was a place for me to rest this story. It's familiar to me. Some parts of the story have to be grounded in reality, even when you write fiction.

Q: Your publisher has high hopes for this book, as I am sure you do too. I was told it was one of the most important winter titles on the William Morrow list. Do you feel pressure? Are you nervous?

A: Yes, I am nervous. I'm surprised how well it has been received and pleased how well it was received. But yes, obviously, there is pressure to do well. They have invested a lot of their time. Of course, I want it to do well. But it has done remarkable things I never anticipated, like selling in seven countries. It's the Target book of the month for February. It's done things I didn't anticipate it would do.

Q: When did you start writing this?

A: I started seriously writing about 10 years ago. As I said, it wasn't something I even thought I could do. It was a lofty idea. I always told myself stories, but never started putting them down until 10 years ago.

Q: Do you still work as a nurse?

A: I do. I work in neonatal intensive care. I take care of sick little preemies and sick newborns too.

Q: What are your plans for the book?

A: I don't think authors do big book tours anymore unless they are already a name. The world has changed. I am doing a book launch at a bookstore near me and doing a few other things. I am hoping this will be a book club book. I plan to Skype and do a book club appearance when asked. I am on Twitter and other social media.

Q: Good luck.

A: Thank you.

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

bkeyes@pressherald.com

Twitter: pphbkeyes

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