Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Author Interview with Elaine C Pereira

 Elaine C. Pereira is a retired school occupational therapist who worked with special needs children. She earned her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Wayne State University and later completed her master’s degree. Pereira and her husband Joseph live in southeastern Michigan with their cat, Snoopy, and two big dogs, Bailey and Maddee. Together Pereira and her husband have five adult children; Joe’s three sons and Elaine’s twin daughters, five young grandchildren and a teenage granddaughter. Life is good again.

 I Will Never Forget is the exquisite portrayal of the author’s talented mother, Betty’s, extraordinary and humorous journey through dementia. Through superb stories of Elaine’s childhood, including her controversial name, tales of smoking dragons, and a near paralyzing accident, her mother’s wonderful character is revealed. As their mother-daughter relationship evolves, Elaine referees her mom’s uncharacteristic verbal assaults and masterful Houdini-like disappearances. Elaine relishes in Betty’s dazzling visions of her own mother and then witnesses her mom’s stunning rally to take control of her own destiny. Finally, Elaine accompanies her mother down her one-way journey as her brilliant mind is slowly destroyed by Dementia’s insatiable appetite for brain cells.

On your nightstand now: 
The hard cover of I Will Never Forget-A Daughter's Story of Her Mother's Arduous and Humorous Journey Through Dementia.  It’s always there.  But I think what you really want to know is what am I reading:  Behind the Old face by Angil Tarah-Ritchey.
Favorite book when you were a child: 
Cinderella, which is now my granddaughter’s favorite although she’s pretty little.
Book you've faked reading: 
Just HS and college history books etc.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Firegal... Rising from the Ashes by
Gina Geldbach-Hall – crazy cool cover and title.

Book that changed your life:  Honestly?  Mine!

Why any human should plunk down cash money for your book:
(I’m chuckling reading the question and trying to think of a funny comeback equal to the task, but …)   My book is not a side splitting humorous tale of a crazy dog like Marley and Me; I get that.  But it is not a dark, foreboding, depressing, boring story just about someone’s tough life at the end as they’re old and gray anyway.
I Will Never Forget is a powerful, true account of a kind, brilliant, trailblazing woman who earned her BS in chemistry, or all things, in post WWII and then uprooted as a single woman to move across state lines for a new job!  We are an international world today, but it was very, very different in the late 1940s. 
This memoir is rich in descriptive detail, character development and presents honest and sometimes humbling stories of a family in various stages of crises alternating with happiness and calm. 
In a society where we think nothing of spending $4.00 on a cup of coffee – well many Starbucks patrons do it, although I’d rather have a draft – in three or four days, you could have a real, tangible, meaningful, wonderful and real book! And not an empty cup to recycle. 
There are many good books on dementia but mine is one of the great ones!

Based on the description of “I Will Never Forget” I know there may be some touching scenes as well as a little tragedy. But can you tell us what more to expect?
I Will Never Forget details superb stories of the author’s childhood through which her mother, Betty’s wonderful character is revealed.  From the controversy about Elaine’s name, tales of smokin’ dragons, the feisty teenage years and her near paralyzing accident, a woman of great character and depth of soul is portrayed.

Their strong mother-daughter relationship gradually evolves as Elaine matures, marries and becomes a mother herself, of twin girls no less!   But as the years advance, Betty’s characteristic kindness wanes.  She starts to exhibit flashes of hostility, paranoia and gradually begins her one-way journey through the dark corridors of mind zapping Alzheimer's.

Although clearly mystified by her mother’s goofy behaviors and bizarre thinking, Elaine does not appreciate the extent of her mother’s decline until one tumultuous explosion of reality.  The crazy drama continues as Elaine referees her mom’s uncharacteristic verbal assaults, escapes so exquisite as to impress Houdini, Betty’s fascinating visions of her own mother and finally her stunning rally to take control of her own destiny. 

I Will Never Forget is a heartwarming, funny and powerful true story pertinent to anyone touched by the insidious effects of Dementia.  Learn from Elaine's unwitting mistakes as she naïvely weaves through Dementia’s unpredictable haze to capture insightful and effective intervention strategies.  Accompany the author through her journey, as her mother's brilliant mind is slowly and unpredictably destroyed by Dementia's ravenous appetite for brain cells.

What made you decide to write this book in the first place?
My mother’s rich life but eventual, incredible journey through dementia is a story that needed to be told and, inspired by casual but genuine remarks from friends who said, “You should write a book,” I did! 

For far too long, I lived in denial and ignorance, as Mom declined.  Despite warnings and information to the contrary, I saw my mom as more functional than dysfunctional.  My professional expertise as an OT should have afforded me a better understanding and recognition of my mother’s paranoia and memory issues in the beginning.  But like many families, I was too close to the situation. 

I felt that if I wandered aimlessly in ignorance, how many other caregivers did too?  If I learned by trial and error how best to manage Mom’s tirades, personality changes, agitation and hostility, perhaps in sharing my story openly and honestly, I could help others learn from my unwitting mistakes and know that they are not alone. 
What is your writing style?
I wrote I Will Never Forget on my laptop almost exclusively at the kitchen table, surrounded by countless windows, near the heat vent and typically with the counter TV on low. 
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
Neither and both:  I had retired as a school occupational therapist not long before Mom’s dementia really took hold rendering her unsafe.  Almost a year later after nearly unbelievable drama and escapades, Mom had declined so rapidly she was virtually incoherent.  I started writing then, pages here and there of better times and current issues.  A month after she passed away I made a conscious decision to move the drafts past the cathartic stage and into the revealing book it deserved to be and forged ahead full time. 
What do you hope readers will take from your writing?
I want readers, especially caregivers to learn from my unwitting mistakes.  I stumbled in oblivion trying to use logic and reasoning to affect changes in someone devoid of the capacity to process rational thought.  It baffled me.  Eventually, though, I adopted far more effective strategies that I share in the book.  
I want caregivers to know they are not alone in their journey with their parent, spouse or friend, that there is help out there, that they need to take care of themselves first before they can care for someone else, a concept that is, by definition, foreign to caregivers. 
Where can people learn more about you and your work?
I post monthly on the Alzheimer’s Reading Room and have had a few posts on Maria  One is slated to run mid February. 
What did you like about writing this book, and books in general?
Initially the manuscript served a cathartic purpose.  But as I delved into finishing it, I loved writing about who my mom was as seen through my eyes as a child, how she helped to mold a mouthy, feisty teenager into a woman who can and did move mountains in her behalf. 
What is the tone of the book? Satire? Humor? Informative?
Honest, occasionally funny and sarcastic, revealing, thoughtful, provocative.

Where can the book be bought?
Author signed copies are available from me via the USPS; just contact me  734-395-3615

Barnes & Noble

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