by Alvin Ramirez October 3, 2013
In this post, we review Dr. Angela Lauria’s Book Journeys interview with author Carrie Knowles, author of A Family Story of Alzheimer’s: The Last Childhood.
Carrie’s book came out of her family’s experience with Alzheimer’s, when she, her two brothers and sister cared for their grandmother, who had the disease. The journey wasn’t easy, particularly as, at the time, Alzheimer’s wasn’t fully understood by either the public or the medical establishment, and neither was the impact on the family of those who suffered the disease. Carrie was already a professional writer, and it was because of this that her siblings encouraged her to write the book.
Carrie’s publishing journey with the book wasn’t easy. The initial edition of the book took Carrie six years to write, and as the book wasn’t a “feel good” book, unlike a previous novel written on the subject by Nicholas Sparks, so Carrie had difficulty getting publishers interested in it. She finally got a small publishing house to publish it, but the publishing house then went out of business and she needed to go to court to regain control over her book. She then updated it and then began working with Three Rivers Press, which became interested in the book when a literary agent of a writer who liked the book presented it to them. Carrie then worked with two editors in succession, and when it was published Carrie needed to work on the publicity herself, starting with bookstores. She then got the attention of a firm involved in caring for Alzheimer’s patients and asked her to start speaking for them, and also got the attention of several doctors who requested she talk to their staffs about the illness.
As it turned out, Carrie’s book came out at the right time, when interest was high in Alzheimer’s, and apparently at the same time that Dr. Webster Ross published a paper on the disease which focused on the failure of family members recognizing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s in the first seven years of the disease; indeed, Dr. Ross remarked, after reading her book, that doing so would have saved him ten years of research. The book, and her experiences, also changed the way a lot of people regarded the disease, bringing to light the emotional toll it takes on the caregivers within the family who look after such patients.
Carrie notes that the book is a collaboration with her family members, and that she took her time writing the book, which had more chapters added to it as time went on, noting that she also took her time when she wrote out her two novels, which was done over a course of ten years. She recommends would-be writers to set a plan when writing their book, and also being gentle with themselves when things don’t move as quickly as they expect.