December 16, 2012

Author Q & A: Laughing all the way

The author's wit enlivens 'The Irreverent Widow,' but writing about her husband's death and her adventures since was a sometimes tough and emotional journey.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Prepare to laugh. And cry.

click image to enlarge

Sandi Amorello of Cape Elizabeth says she wrote “The Irreverent Widow” because after her husband died, she “could not find a book that was uplifting and had humor in it.”

Courtesy photo

click image to enlarge

Maine author and artist Sandi Amorello has finally completed the book she has promised for so long. "The Irreverent Widow" tells the story of the death of her beloved husband, Drew, her grieving process and what it's like for a woman in her 40s to get back into the dating game after suffering so momentous a loss.

She tells her story in wrenching detail, down to her husband's final breath and the wail of grief from his brother, who arrived too late for a final goodbye. She talks about raising children alone, moving to Maine and resettling her life.

And she tells seriously funny stories about some of the men she has met along the way in the decade since her husband's death, including one about a guy who promised he looked better than Ben Affleck.

He did not.

Amorello, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, has exhibited her artwork in Portland, and is best known for her column, "No Sugar Added," that appeared in The Forecaster. Her final column ran earlier this month. 

Q: I have to start by saying this is one of the most amazing books I've read in a long time. How difficult was it to commit to these words?

A: A lot of it was very difficult. I wrote a lot of stories before I started writing the more serious stories in the book. The dating stuff and funny stuff I starting writing years ago. But I realized I needed to do the hard work and go back in my head and revisit what I went through. It was very emotional and cathartic. It felt like I was finally getting it out and writing it down.

It was a very healing process, but it was very difficult. That's why it took so long to finally write it all. 

Q: How long did it take? 

A: In 2007, I was preparing my "Irreverent Widow" art exhibit at my studio on Oak Street in Portland. I had been making art and writing stories about my humorous dating experiences a few years after I moved to Maine. Once I started writing, within about two weeks, I had 180 or 200 pages of essays. They just came pouring out. 

Q: This answer may be obvious, but I hate to assume: Why did you write this book?

A: I wrote it because I honestly could not find a book that was uplifting and had humor in it and made me feel optimistic about my future when I was first widowed and my kids were very young. The only book I found was at the transfer station where I was living in Massachusetts. It was not about being widowed, but was written by a woman who lost a son around age 20.

There was something in the title that let me know she had a sense of humor still. That was the only book that I remember making me feel like there is someone who is not just depressing me more. 

Q: Whom do you envision as your readers? 

A: Oh goodness. I used to envision, until I actually started showing my stories to people, probably women between the ages of 35 and 55 as my main audience. Once I had my website up and started sharing stories and once people read my work and responded, I realized I was connecting with a lot of single parents and divorced people, and connecting with people in their 20s who were just dating.

I was sharing wisdom and making them laugh about stuff. My website allowed me to reach people I never would have reached otherwise -- any age, either sex and a lot of different situations. It has a much broader appeal than I was initially thinking. 

(Continued on page 2)

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