Today, I once again pass my blog over to a woman who is not only a very talented writer, who bares her soul in very personal works, but someone I am pleased to call a friend.
As you know, I love the sound of my own … words, but I shall reign myself in and say let’s begin.
Hi Maxine, thank you for joining me here today. I am glad you could find time to sit down and have a chat.
Maxine: Thank you for hosting me, Alex. It is an honor to be here.
1. Firstly, how are things with you? You recently had some surgery on your wrist, and I know you have one more scheduled. How are you coping with the reduced mobility?
Maxine: I had carpal tunnel surgery done on December 17th. My next surgery is scheduled for January 24th. It has been frustrating for me. I realize that the surgery is necessary, but I am going stir crazy, being home all the time. It is also frustrating that I have so much time that I could be using for writing, but do not have the ability to use my hand that much yet.
2. The prognosis for a full recovery is good right?
Maxine: Yes, I should eventually be rid of the symptoms that brought me to the point of surgery, but sometimes it takes several months to reach full recovery. It is also possible for the condition to return, depending on the repetition of your job and any previous conditions. I also have tendinitis, which is likely a contributing factor in my carpal tunnel.
3. So, let’s talk a bit about your writing. You have written two very interesting books, on two important subjects; My Remembrance and Cameron’s Journey. Both books are very personal. Did it take a lot out of you to sit down and put it all on paper?
Maxine: There were parts of these books that almost tore my soul out as I wrote about them. My Remembrance is about the abusive family in which I grew up. I detailed the abuse, how it changed us, and how it formed what kind of adults we would eventually become. As I wrote it, I was transported back in time, to relive the events and the pain that came with them. Ultimately, My Remembrance is a story of hope. It shows how we became strong, how people were there to teach us valuable life skills, and how we came through the abuse as caring people who don’t abuse our own children.
Cameron’s Journey was also difficult to write, because I was living it as I was writing. I had a sense of urgency as I wrote it. I wanted the world to understand that Autism does not look the same in every person, and that what these people need most is understanding and open hearts. I guess I was trying to make the world a better place for my child to go out into.
4. My Remembrance talks about abuse, and the abuse you suffered as a child, along with your siblings, and also about your turbulent first marriage. Did you feel a certain compulsion to put this down on paper, to have it aired and allow yourself to step away from the shadow it had cast?
Maxine: I avoided the subject for a long time. Part of me wanted to write about it, but it hurt so much that I shied away from it. I knew that our story could help others. I wanted to tell people that if they were abused, they are not defective or doomed to become their parents. I wanted to say, “If you have seen better or learned that you can be better, you are fully capable of making the choice to be a better person than your parents.”
As I said, I avoided it because of the pain. Eventually, I came to realize that by not turning and dealing with the pain of the past, I still allowed it to have power over me. I needed to forgive my parents so that I could heal. When I did that, when I could write the book without casting judgment, I was ready to tell our story.
5. Did you tell your family members, those that the book deals with, about your plans ahead of time?
Maxine: I told only my oldest sister. She supported my decision to write the book. She had been pressuring me to write it for a long time; I just hadn’t been ready. I consulted with her throughout the writing process. I would call her up to compare memories. I wanted to be as accurate as possible. She is supportive of my writing. She tells everyone, “My sister is a writer!” I think My Remembrance gave her an outlet for her feelings too. I have two brothers and another sister. I did not tell them about the book before or as I was writing it. Most of them know about it now, but I have not yet told my older brother or my step-father.
6. Were they supportive of you?
Maxine: My oldest sister has been my biggest supporter. My younger brother didn’t say much. My other sister is still terribly wounded, so her reaction was difficult to gauge.
7. You are now happily married and have raised a wonderful family. What do you think is the secret to a good, happy marriage?
Maxine: Acceptance and trust play major roles in the success of a marriage. Acceptance of your spouse means that you know that he/she is not perfect, but you love them just the way they are, as the whole package. Trust comes into play when your heart is involved. Trust is not just about trusting that person not to cheat on you. Each person needs to know that their partner can be trusted with their heart. They need to know that their feelings are safe with this person. Each person must be able to be themselves. If they cannot open themselves safely, there is no foundation for an enduring marriage.
8. Your second book was another personal journey, dealing with your son Cameron and his diagnosis as having Autism. I guess you can still remember the day you got the news.
Maxine: As I read this question, tears came to my eyes. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. Cameron was in the room with the various specialists for a very long time. When they finally emerged, consulted with one another, and said they were ready to reveal their diagnosis, I wasn’t expecting what they said. I was expecting them to say he had ADHD or something, not Autism.
9. Were you prepared for that diagnosis?
Maxine: As I indicated above, I wasn’t expecting an Autism diagnosis. However, the pieces seemed to fit. For a time, it felt as if my world had come crashing down around me. I accepted the diagnosis, but I still researched and got a second opinion. My husband was in complete denial for a long time. I think he was hurting, and it came out as anger and being offended that they could say that about his child. He eventually came to terms with it, and we worked on ways to make things easier on all of us. It has been a long and difficult journey.
10. I have a son with Classic Autism. Cameron has the higher functioning form called Asperger’s Syndrome. Can you tell us a little about what that means?
Maxine: People with Asperger’s Syndrome are on the Autism Spectrum, but are not classically Autistic. This means that they display many of the same symptoms of classic Autism, but have average to genius-level intelligence. They are often quite verbal, which may throw some people off. They don’t “look” Autistic. However, they are usually sensory defensive (meaning that some sounds, textures, lights, etc. may throw them into a sort of fit), and often seem unaware of their surroundings. They thrive on routine, and get upset if that routine is thrown off.
11. I think that parent acceptance is a big and vital step in the process. My wife and I had already accepted Logan’s diagnosis before it was officially given. Did you have any issues with accepting the issue? I mean it is something that no parent ever wants to hear.
Maxine: Although the diagnosis initially threw me for a loop, I quickly accepted the diagnosis and asked myself, “Okay, what can we do to help him now? How can we make the world a better place for our little boy?” I soon realized that although we accepted him just as he was, we also had to ask more of him. We could not simply say that this was all that we that we should expect of him. We had to push him every day. If we did not, he would not be able to function in the world in the future.
12. What do you think the future holds for Cameron?
Maxine: Cameron has come a long way. He is functioning far better than he did a couple of years ago. With a lot more work, I believe he will be able to function quite well in the real world when he becomes an adult.
13. How did you other children deal with the diagnosis. Cameron is the youngest right?
Maxine: Yes, Cameron is the youngest. His siblings drift between trying to be understanding and feeling resentful of the attention that he gets.
14. You have come through a lot, alone and as part of a family unit. Would you go back and change it if you could, or do you believe that everything happens for a reason, and has contributed to the person you are today?
Maxine: Sometimes I feel that if I could change some of my mistakes, but still have the good things that have come from those experiences, that I would choose to skip the pain. Truth be told, I don’t know if I would be the person that I am today without those experiences. I might not be as strong, because I would not have been tested and called upon to be a strong person.
15. To bring the matter back around to your writing, you have, until this point only written personal pieces. Is that it? Is your story now told?
Maxine: My story is obviously ongoing, and I may have more to write about concerning Cameron’s Journey in the future, but for now, the personal writing is at a close.
16. Will you be turning your attention to writing fiction?
Maxine: I realize that writing fiction is a big change for me, but that is the direction I would like to take next. I love mysteries, science fiction, and horror. There’s a lot to choose from.
17. Which genre do you think you would most likely write in?
Maxine: I would like to write some science fiction. It is one of my favorite genres. I love vampires, aliens, zombies, witches, and a whole range of characters in that genre. I want to put a whole new spin on things, not write was been written thousands of times before.
18.To anybody interested in your books, what can you say to them about the messages that they send?
Maxine: Although my books deal with difficult subjects, they offer hope in the face of unbelievably difficult circumstances. They show both the best and the worst of what human beings can be. My books tell the reader that they can do and be anything that is necessary for survival and growth.
Thank you Maxine, it was a pleasure talking to you. For anybody who is interested in reading more about your story, were can they get a copy of your books?
My books are available online through Amazon. Here are the links:
Cameron’s Journey – eBook
Cameron’s Journey – Paperback
My Remembrance – Paperback
My Remembrance – eBook