A part of my soul got buried with my brother’s body when he died of a drug overdose in 1999. I was a hot mess for many years after my brother’s death, stuck in a life that felt foreign to me. Unable to talk about my feelings, I turned to writing as a way of expressing my grief. I wrote Saving Ben in honor of Neal, the brother I worshipped, the man I could not save.
Not only was the writing therapeutic, enabling me to release the emotions I’d locked away for years, but the process of becoming an author, the classes I took online and the workshops I attended, helped me establish a new identity.
I have a life again, one that belongs only to me, that I don’t have to share with my husband or my children, although I love it when my daughter reads my novels. While Saving Ben is the coming-of-age story about a sister’s close relationship with her brother, Her Sister’s Shoes is a testament to my own midlife crisis. I turned fifty, became an empty nester, and celebrated my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary all in one year.
I portrayed some aspect of my life, some characteristic of my personality, in each of the Sweeney sisters. I shared my experiences dealing with aging parents through Lovie’s story. I’m so fortunate to have found a new career, to be able to accomplish my goals, even if those achievements are meaningful only to me.
Now, when I think about how I will live the rest of my life, I imagine the plots I will create and the characters I will bring to life. And, if I do my job well, the smiles on the faces of the readers I please.
Ashley Farley's Blog
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