When most girls her age were dreaming of becoming prima ballerinas, Linda had dreams of becoming the next Erma Bombeck, never mind the fact she was a ten-year-old Puerto Rican girl without a long-suffering husband or problems with her plumbing. But fate, (and her mother) had other plans. Instead, Linda became a teenage beauty queen and had minor success as an L.A. model. Forty years later and now more tarnished than her old tiaras, Linda writes from her home in Orange County, California where she lives with her husband and a dog named Dude. Learn more about her and her books at her website.
In our eyes, our kids are the cutest things ever, right? Perfect in every way; the smartest and the sweetest little dickens on God’s green earth.
But what if you were meeting those same children for the first time and through the eyes of someone else? Would you feel the same way? Would they still be the cutest kids on the planet with intelligence par excellence? Would you be instantly connected? And more importantly, could you put an unfamiliar baby to your breast to nurse, simply because you were told that baby was yours?
Such is the basis of my book, Twenty-One Trees, inspired by the story of my paternal grandmother who lost all memory of her husband and four children after suffering a mental breakdown shortly after the birth of her last child. No longer was she a married woman with four children, one an infant. Instead, her mind retreated to a better time—a simpler time—the years of her adolescence. And there she remained, young and carefree, her mind locked in the happy memories of her youth, a stark contrast to her reality, committed to a state run mental institution where she lived for the majority of her long life.
Write what you know, someone once told me, and so I tried to do so in Twenty-One Trees; writing about a woman who suffers from psychogenic amnesia—much like my grandmother—a result of PTSD and postpartum depression. The characters in my story are not cardboard cut-outs. They are flawed, as am I. They are real—as am I, (if you don’t count the two perkier replacement parts.) The heroine can be self-absorbed (who, me?) and my hero would be well served to grow a pair, as they say. Their children are not your standard Baby Gap ad kids. Instead, they are redheaded and freckled, shy and awkward. The twin girls are missing their front teeth, and their boy has a lazy eye in need of surgery. They are perfectly imperfect; everyday kids like yours and mine.
I believe most authors leave a bit of themselves on the pages of their books. I’m sure readers of my books would not be surprised to find out I’ve suffered from abuse, spent time in therapy and had loved ones struggle with drugs and alcohol (Or oddly enough, I must have a thing for men in black Calvin Klein underwear. Three books—three unrelated references. What gives?).
Writing Twenty-One Trees was cathartic for me. Completed in just a little over three weeks, the story came without a previous outline and from a stream of consciousness that felt as if someone was whispering in my ear. It was written during a troubling time when my adult children were struggling, and more than once I would have liked the option to forget that they are mine, but like my character, I motored through the chaos. I brushed aside the tears; I looked into big brown eyes and I saw adult children just trying to find their way in a confusing world, hurting in ways I can only imagine.
As I begin the second half of my life (assuming I’ll live to be 116), there's a possibility I may one day no longer remember my children. Not because I’ll fall off a ladder and hit my head like Savannah, or develop psychogenic amnesia like my grandmother, but because of the dreaded disease of Alzheimer’s, a tragedy hitting the parents of so many of my friends, some forced to reintroduce themselves to their parents with each heartbreaking visit. And so, in the meantime, I will relish each moment with my girls and try to keep my condemnations and judgments to myself because life is too short to sweat the small stuff, and if we're honest, aren’t we all perfectly imperfect[?
When trauma gives Savannah May Holladay dissociative amnesia, life as she thought she knew it is gone—and only her childhood friend’s undying love provides any hope for recovery.
Linda is giving away a FREE two-book starter set of her “Wit Lit” series, Middle-Aged Hottie, a tongue-in-cheek look at one woman’s experience with life after 50. Get yours here.