Recently, I was perusing a fellow author’s selection of titles, when I happened upon one that was quite different than her other offerings. It was while on author Markie Madden’s publishing Web site, Metamorph Publishing, that I spied a title that differed from her other offerings of romance and supernatural suspense. Her book, My Butterfly Cancer, available in a number of formats, is the tale of her battle with and victory over cancer. I found the honesty of the writing to be quite interesting, especially as memoir is a genre that interests me, although I don’t feel quite prepared to tackle it. I decided to invite Markie to the blog to talk about memoir, writing her story, and see if she had any tips for writing one’s own story.
Q (Infamous Scribbler): You have a variety of genres available as an author. What made you decide to tackle memoir?
A (Markie Madden): My Butterfly Cancer, my memoir, was conceived because I wanted to help others who are suffering from life-threatening illness to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted them to know that this is something that it IS possible to overcome, and that there can be a life after cancer, even though it may not be the same life they had before, or the one that they might have envisioned. I was a type “A” personality, always working, always busy, and always striving to do the very best I could do at anything. I once worked 12 hour shifts 7 days a week for six months straight without a day off. That’s just who I was. But because the butterfly effect came into my life during my battle with cancer (you know the one, that says a butterfly can flap its wings in Japan and cause a hurricane in Florida), I wanted to put the story out there. Long story short, an old high school friend reconnected with me on Facebook when I was sick, kind of “I heard you were sick, wanted to get back in touch” sort of thing. She’s a published author, so I spent many days in the hospital talking to her about it. I’d already published Once Upon a Western Way in e-format through Smashwords, but I wanted to expand that and get into print as well. She encouraged me and gave me all the help to get started. Now you see how I got the title of my memoir, not only from the transformation of the caterpillar to a butterfly (stemming from my own personal transformation), but from the butterfly effect theory as well, that one small and seemingly insignificant act can create an avalanche in the end.
Q: Was there any point in writing where you felt particularly challenged, or that you just couldn’t go on? What part was it, and how did you overcome it?
A: When I wrote My Butterfly Cancer, I was still suffering from the long-term side effects of chemotherapy. My memory wasn’t what it used to be (still isn’t), and there were a lot of incidents that happened to me during my treatment that I can’t recall, so I had to ask my family in order to detail these things in the book. Fortunately, my oldest daughter stayed in the hospital with me, with the exception of two visits, and she became my memory, even to the point of learning and remembering all the medications I was given.
Q: Did you have a particular method in approaching writing memoir? What did you find worked for you?
A: I basically just wrote the story from beginning to end. It covers just about a year in my life, and I purposely didn’t do a lot of editing work with it, as I wanted it to be raw and uncut. My intent was for it to feel a little bit disorganized, because it was a true measure of what my mental status was at the time.
Q: Is this a genre you might tackle again?
A: I don’t think I’ll tackle this again, aside from possibly editing or adding to My Butterfly Cancer. After all, I don’t think my life is all that interesting, I’ve not done anything noteworthy, and I have more of a talent for writing fiction. Surprisingly, though, my memoir is the best-selling book of my three.
Q: Having completed this work and knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to other writers contemplating writing memoir?
A: What can I say to others writing a memoir? To make it as real and believable to your reader, you must be brutally honest in your writing. I left out none of the details (that I could remember), not even to the point of the nurses having to clean me up after using the bathroom. And, in this way, others who are going through the same thing can understand that they’re not alone.
Q: What is next for you?
A: I’m currently working on a brand new series called the Undead Unit Series. It’s a world where supernatural beings like vampires, werewolves, and more live and work among humans. Book One is Fang and Claw and I hope to have it out by fall of this year. Lacey Anderson is a vampire working as a detective for the Dallas police department, and she’s just been put in charge of the Undead Unit, an elite squad dedicated to solving crimes involving either Undead victims or suspects. Her new partner, Colton, is a werewolf with anger management issues whose ancestors were responsible for destroying Lacey’s coven hundreds of years ago. Will they be able to work together, or is the Undead Unit doomed from the very start? Book Two will be called Souls of the Reaper, book Three will be Blood Lust, and book Four is Siren Song. You can read sample chapters on my website: www.metamorphpublishing.com/the-undead-unit-series/.
If you are interested in reading more of Madden’s work, her books are available in print from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Create Space. You can download them in e-format from Kindle, Nook, iPhone, Smashwords, and Kobo. Also, My Butterfly Cancer is now available as an audiobook through Amazon, Audible, and iTunes, and will soon be followed by her other works.