Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Michelle McConnell from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.
About The Author
Michelle McConnell lives in Atlanta with her son, mother, and two cats. As someone diagnosed with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorders, she states: “With my book, I want to rip a hole through the veil of mental illness so that others may understand and help their loved ones who may be suffering in silence. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Being ignored and neglected is a much worse fate for the mentally ill than having a caring friend asking questions in order to understand.”
You can connect with author McConnell here:
Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.
I am a graphic designer, artist and musician. I also enjoy hiking. My first half of my life was spent battling an unknown illness. I have been managing my bi-polar for the past decade. It took a while to find the right medication. Anyone who is going through the medication process should be patient; it takes time to find the right combination of prescriptions. Don’t give up! There is life beyond the illness.
Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?
I began compiling my diaries and journals about 15 years ago, so it took a long time to complete. It was therapeutic to share my story for others to read, in hopes that they may seek the help they need sooner than I did since I didn’t even realize I had an illness. It took five mental hospital stays before I was properly diagnosed. I lost most of my friends due to my erratic behavior, which I share in the book. I hope my book helps at least one person who’s experiencing similar behavior and can’t understand why.
Why did you choose this particular theme for your book? What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?
I chose the theme of mental illness since I suffer with it. I want the readers to recognize mental illness, and help a friend or relative who may be exhibiting similar behavior. Being bi-polar is not something that can be controlled alone. There are many misconceptions about mental illness, most of them being negative stereotypes. I hope to share that mental illness comes in many forms and is treatable, given time and patience. I would like the reader to know that mental illness is a physical disorder, a chemical imbalance in the brain, which is treatable.
What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?
I got the idea of writing this book one day when I was cleaning out my desk and found a collection of forgotten journals and diaries. I began by putting them in date order, then transferring the entries from written to typed format. I used these entries as an outline, and I edited and rewrote entries for the next fifteen years.
How long did it take you to write this particular book?
Fifteen years, off and on.
What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
I don’t plan on writing another book. In five years, I see myself in a healthy, calm place.
Are you working on any other story presently?
No, and I don’t plan to write another book.
Do you also dabble in fiction?
Part of my book is fiction. I based it on real experiences, then elaborated and created credible scenarios. So, my book is both non-fiction and fiction.
When did you decide to become a writer? Was it easy for you follow your passion or did you have to make some sacrifices along the way?
During the last ten years, I really began to believe that I could actually write a book. The biggest sacrifice has been my relationship with my mother, which was always troubled, but really unraveled after the book was released. There are many aspects of my life she doesn’t remember due to her heavy drinking. I try to keep on good terms with her, but the relationship is strained.
What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?
I spent most of my writing hours in a local pizzeria where I felt comfortable and enjoyed the public interactions. Sipping on wine while observing life around me inspired me to keep writing. Working on my book alone felt more depressing, so I really enjoyed sitting somewhere public.
Is writing your profession or do you work in some other field too?
I work two part-time jobs: one as a graphic designer for a magazine, and the other as an office manager for a small company. Writing is not my primary profession, but I respect people who can turn their writing into commercial success.
What are your 5 favourite books?
Two books which are similar are Go Ask Alice, which was anonymously written, and Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic Depressive Illness by Patty Duke and Gloria Hochman. They both inspired me to write my memoir.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I worked on different sections of my book, so if I had Writer’s Block, I skipped to a different chapter and tried my luck there. Since I had an outline of a book, it was easy to move to a different section.
What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?
Be brave. It is frightening to share one’s life experiences with the public. It feels rather like walking to the edge of a cliff. Don’t let that deter you. If you want to share your thoughts and ideas, a piece of yourself, know that you can do it. It will be a rewarding, therapeutic experience. You can do it!
Thank you, author McConnell, for your insightful answers!
About the Book
Memoirs Of A Manic-Depressant
Harvey Doucet, a reasonably good Catholic, would never have committed suicide.
His son, Harvey Jr. – H – knows this, so after Doucet Drilling causes the collapse of a salt mine and thirteen deaths, H searches for clues to clear his estranged father’s name. H and his father’s bodyguard, Placide, encounter dangerous cliffhangers, as the pursuers become the pursued. On the way, H exposes greed, fraud, and corruption, leading all the way to the White House.
In Pillars of Salt by J.A. Adams, we experience H’s journey from his original bitterness, angst, and cynicism toward his life and his father, to a place of appreciation and understanding of his father’s integrity. Maybe H will also discover the inherent goodness in people, even when the world seems to be circling the drain.
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