Saturday, 25 April 2015

One Night Sweat Over the Line

I thought it would be appropriate at this point to share the story of how my debut novel, Mental Pause, came to be. It was published two years ago on International Women's Day. Parts of this post originally appeared on It’s Not All Gravy during the virtual book tour when it launched.

The Symptoms Come Creeping In

I’ve been a writer all my life but mostly corporate communications and PR but I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic and dreamed of one day writing fiction. About five years ago I tested the waters and submitted a couple of short stories to The Fiction Writers Platform (now The Writers Platform) and both received an editor’s choice award!

Prior to that, I had started freelancing and was doing corporate copy writing while thoughts and dreams of being a novelist did a water ballet in the back of my mind. Simultaneously, I began experiencing some rather uncomfortable peri-menopausal symptoms. I honestly didn’t know what was happening at first, only that I was horribly irritable. So much so that I couldn’t even stand being around myself. I was also having crazy thoughts, tinged with paranoia, along with such startling memory loss that it felt like I had had a lobotomy.  It wasn’t until the night sweats started that it finally dawned on me that I was experiencing ‘The Change.’  It was a shocking revelation as I was still in my early-40s. It made me feel a little better knowing there was an explanation for it all but didn’t make it go away.

Hitting the Keyboard

Then one very sweaty, steamy night as I was lying there in a disgusting pool of sweat, even though the A/C was blasting, and trying not to slime my poor husband sleeping soundly beside me, I did what any writer would do… hit the keyboard and poured out what I believed to be the mad ramblings of a peri-menopausal woman. If anyone had seen me they would have thought I’d lost it! I stifled the giggles so as not to wake my husband and wiped the tears and just kept writing. I thought I might turn it into a blog but wasn’t really comfortable exposing myself that openly. Then the idea hit. I could have even more fun with it if I turned it into fiction.

NaNoWriMo to the Rescue

As luck would have it, I had recently heard about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which was about to start, my husband had recently retired and we had just moved to Thailand. I hadn’t really met anybody and had a lot of time on my hands. I signed up and plunged in headfirst.

I started segmenting the ‘ramblings’, categorizing and developing a loose plot line. The first chapter sort of spilled out and characters started to take shape. The more I wrote the more I dreamt about my main character, Abbie, her thoughts and feelings, family and friends. I’d wake up with a start and run to my computer to type out a description of one of my characters that I had seen so vividly in a dream. The best plot twist in the book (in my opinion) came in a dream!

The Catharsis of Writing

It was really cathartic to write it because no matter how bad I was feeling, how crazy my mood swings or wild my thoughts were, Abbie’s were always worse. I could also live vicariously through her. Without ruining the story for anyone who plans to read it, I can share that I’ve always teased my mom that we’d both get tattoos when I turned 50 and she turned 90 (which happened just last year)! I’d really never do it because I have absolutely no pain threshold and the thought of even one needle makes me go weak in the knees, so I had Abbie get one.

Focusing on writing and publishing Mental Pause really helped ground me and allowed me to face my change with a more positive attitude. The worst has passed and I can talk more openly about it now and hope that, along with enjoying the storyline, my book can help other women as well. My mood swings have tapered off; the night sweats are few and far between and the hot flashes are barely noticeable since I live in a very warm and humid climate anyways.

I had so much fun writing Mental Pause that after it was published I immediately began working on my next novel with the hope that my diminishing symptoms wouldn’t limit my creativity! Fortunately my imagination seems to still be just as active and Deep Deceit recently launched to 5-star reviews!

If you're an author and have written about Menopause or if you are experiencing 'The Change' and have come across a book that you found helpful, please feel free to send me a note ( I'm looking for guest posts from authors and reviews from readers so I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Flashing!

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