Suzanne’s Note – I met Vanessa after reading A Life Stolen, a powerful memoir of her experience caring for her beloved father during his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Sharing the most intimate details of her parent’s marriage and the experience watching her father die, the reader can’t help but be consumed by the story. It’s truly a portrait of the love of a daughter.
My Father’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s
A Life Stolen – Synopsis – A Life Stolen is the gripping account of a father and daughter’s devastating, but inspiring journey through Alzheimer’s. It’s an inside look into the day-to-day challenges facing not only the patient, but also the caregivers. For many years, her father exhibited signs of dementia, eventually becoming too significant to ignore. Everything culminated during an incident one night, after which her father was taken away, never to return to his home again. The disease changed him every day until he was a stranger. Then, it stole his life.
Through the initial days at home to hospital stays, living in a memory care unit, rehab stints and eventually hospice care, this book reveals many of the struggles encountered while facing Alzheimer’s in a world not quite ready for it. It is based on actual events depicted exactly as they happened while travelling the heartbreaking and harrowing road through this horrific illness. Its purpose is to give guidance and insight to others caring for loved ones with this terrible affliction, whether it is in providing helpful information, feelings of support or simply words of encouragement. Most importantly, the hope is that it will make the road for others an easier one to travel. May the many tears in this journey be the fortitude that helps others deal with the adversity from this overwhelming disease.
Blind Eye – Synopsis – After enduring years of infidelity and a painful divorce, Rachel Davis has finally reclaimed her life. Gorgeous, intelligent and now with a tenacity to survive whatever life throws at her, Rachel feels better than she has in a long time. With two wonderful children, a successful career and a newfound strength, life is good.
At least until she gets involved with Eric Sinclair, a handsome but mysterious colleague in the throes of a nasty divorce. What starts off as a harmless friendship catapults into a sensuous affair filled with sex, lies and murder.
When a life-shattering event suddenly threatens their relationship, Rachel finds her life spiraling out of control until she is eventually forced to ask herself the question she fears the most. Just how well do we really know those around us?
Vanessa’s Bio – Vanessa Luther grew up in Hialeah, Florida and later moved to Pensacola, where she met and married her husband. After graduating from the University of West Florida with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, they moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she worked as a Consulting Software Engineer for 17 years. Vanessa put her career on hold to raise her three sons and eventually became the primary caregiver for both of her parents.
She currently lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia with her husband and three sons.
Interview With Vanessa Luther
- How long did it take you to start writing in earnest once you knew that was what you wanted to do?
Even though my degree was in Computer Science, the desire to try my hand at writing always existed in the back of my head. I never in a million years would have envisioned the subject of my first book or how it came about. When the unthinkable happened and my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I began to care for him. Feeling so lost at times, I vowed to one day share our story in hopes of helping others. A year and a half after he passed, I still could not bring myself to divulge such personal moments or the ugliness of the disease. Through much encouragement from my family, I documented every event in our journey. Nine months later, that log became A Life Stolen. Not long after that, I decided to write a suspense novel. My second book, Blind Eye, took 11 months to develop and publish.
- Are you self published? Did you launch into self-publishing or did you try the traditional route first?
My original plan was always to go the path of a publishing company. The thought of self-publishing was daunting. I began writing my query letter and came up with a list of agents. The more I researched, the more I realized what I would be giving up going the traditional route. Then one day, the answer hit me. I owed it to my father to tell his story exactly as it occurred with no embellishments or changes by someone who didn’t know him. It was the right decision for me and I have never once regretted it. When it came time to publish my second book, I didn’t think twice. After all, the learning curve was over. Self-publishing is a lot of work, especially the marketing part. But, I love being my own boss, having complete control and not having to adhere to strict deadlines. My time is my own.
- What was the most difficult part of the journey?
The most difficult part of A Life Stolen was by far reliving that tragic time in order to capture the raw emotions. In some regards, it was harder than the actual journey as I already knew what was coming.
Being an indie author requires a lot of work and knowledge. The technical information is out there. It’s just a matter of finding it. We are living in an age where many doors in the publishing industry have been opened. We have so many more options nowadays. For me, it has become important to find the right balance between doing things myself and hiring professional assistance. For my first book, I tried to cut costs and did everything myself, including formatting the book for the different platforms and designing my own book cover. For my second book, I backed off of that mentality a little and hired a professional for the cover. Marketing has also proven to be very challenging and time consuming. Unfortunately, it is a necessity.
- Do you want to do a stand alone or series?
My first two books are currently stand alone. I would love to one day develop a series. One of the greatest gifts a reader can receive from an author is an endless collection of stories about characters that you can’t bear to let go of once you finish a book. I would love to be able to provide that to readers.
- Do you jump right in to write once you get an idea, or do you plan and outline?
Kudos to writers that can take an idea and go with it. My logical and detailed background has always prevented me from attempting this approach. Instead, I develop a high level outline and make sure the plot is progressing as I want and the pace is correct before I ever begin the formal process of filling in the details. Sometimes, the plot shifts or the characters become more defined and I’ll end up reworking the outline. For a suspense novel full of twists and a surprise ending, I find it much easier to rework the outline than the book itself. It works for me.
- Where do you write? Do you have any rituals or necessities when you write? Is noise a hindrance?
I do all my writing at home. A quiet environment is a must. My first book was written entirely at my dining room table. When I began writing my second book, my oldest son was also writing on that dining room table. Sharing a desk was not a productive setting for me. So, I purchased a corner desk for my bedroom directly in front of a window. It gives me privacy and a view of nature for inspiration.
- Do you write more than one piece at a time? What’s in the works now?
I have several story ideas that I work on concurrently at a high level. However, I only write one book at a time. I also never read more than one book at a time. I prefer to pour all of me into one project than split my time amongst many. I’m currently writing a psychological suspense novel.
- What encourages you to write? Discourages? What do you do to motive yourself through the rough times?
Seeing an idea within my head come to life on the pages of a book is a phenomenal feeling. I also have a very supportive family. My two oldest children have degrees in English and Film Studies. They have been my primary editors and sounding boards throughout my writing career.
There’s really nothing that discourages me from writing as a whole. While initially writing A Life Stolen, I felt as though I was betraying my father whenever I revealed certain events. It was something I battled with for many months. I eventually came to realize that shielding the reader from those times would have been a disservice to the book and everything it stood for. It helped me to be more honest with myself and my words.
As a writer, I oftentimes find myself staring at that line and wondering whether I should cross it or not. Remaining on the one side is safe, but having the guts to boldly step across it can take a story to a new level. As my writing has matured, so has my ability to recognize the importance of that line and the powerful opportunities that come from crossing it.
- I’m sure your experiences must compel you to write! Readers want to hear whatever you have to say about that!
I try to write about subjects I know and am passionate about to minimize the amount of my research. A Life Stolen was a memoir based entirely on my own experience while caring for my father. It was a story I never imagined writing, but a story I felt needed to be told. As much as I despised Alzheimer’s and what it did to my father, I am thankful that his story has helped so many others in the same situation.
I developed the idea for Blind Eye even before writing my first book. The corporate world is much the same as other workplaces. Affairs, divorces, marriages and still more divorces occur on a regular basis. The main character’s livelihood was based on a career that I held for many years, a Software Engineer. Although most of the events in this book are fictitious, they are most certainly possible and definitely probable.
Connect with Vanessa