As the title reads, my book is about the joys and sorrows of loving an alcoholic. It tells of my twenty-year journey my husband, its tragic ending, and my recovery. It offers hope for loved ones challenged by a family member or friend’s addiction
What inspired you to write this particular story (and/or series)?
I’ve always been drawn to personal narrative and decided that my story might be helpful to others in a similar situation. Many who have read my story have shared that it resonated with them and found my message of hope beneficial.
Describe your writing in three words.
Honest, clear, and substantive.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
My story is chronological spanning twenty years, so the structure and plot were pretty straightforward. For each chapter, I brainstormed a list of memories, etc. I also reread and highlighted entries from my journals.
Are your characters in the book based on anyone you know?
A memoir, so the “characters” are real. I did change some names.
Was there any research involved in your work?
Sometimes I had to research specific places, or titles of books, songs, dates, etc. that I referred to. I also checked with family members on specific memoires to compare with my own. Other than that most of my “research” consisted of my own memories and excerpts from my journals (which thankfully I dated).
What authors inspire or influence your work?
I read a lot of bestselling memoirs and personal essays, while drafting mine. Frank McCourt, Mary Karr, Tobias Wolff, Patricia Hampl, Vivian Gornick and Joan Didion come to mind. I also read “how to books” on crafting memoirs by William Zinsser and Judith Barrington. E.B. White is also a favorite.
Favorite snack when writing.
I sip on coffee and tea.
Do you have a Muse?
Not especially though sometimes when struggling through a draft, I take a break and ask my Higher Power for some guidance to dig in and find the right words, tone, structure, etc.
Is the Thesaurus one of your best writing friends?
Yes, I use it often. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. “
Who gets to read your drafts before they're published?
My dear friend, Rosanna, usually reads my drafts and comments. In fact, she nagged me for years to finish the book. I’m grateful that she kept after me. Also, I participated in two writing groups while working on the manuscript. Members offered helpful advice. Currently, I am part of a writing group of women focused on personal narrative/memoir.
Share with us your biggest hurdles in the writing process?
I write slowly. That is I revise a lot as I go along. This used to bother me because I thought I could produce more if I didn’t plod along. Finally I came to accept that this was my process. It works for me. Usually I don’t have to revise much after a few drafts.
Share the biggest hurdles in the marketing process.
Getting the word out and navigating all of the options within social media and deciding which will work best for me. Reminding myself not to become overwhelmed with marketing options. Currently, I am blogging about addiction for loved ones at Psychology Today and have been invited as a guest blogger at other sites. Learning how to balance time for writing and for social media and marketing is a challenge for most writers.
What project(s) are you working on now?
Currently, I am speaking to various groups about addiction, preparing workshops for writing conferences, blogging for Psychology Today, and writing an essay about time I spent in Pittsburgh which I plan to submit for a contest sponsored by the magazine, Creative Non-Fiction. Several people have asked if I plan to write another book. At this point, I haven’t decided. Maybe try my hand at fiction. Several memoir writers have done so. It’s an interesting possibility.
We know ourselves by the stories we tell and mine captures the progression of my husband’s disease from the early to middle to late stages. I describe my husband’s attempts to control his drinking and my attempts to control him. All of that was in vain, but we didn’t know it at the time. Now I know better, and as my friend Dan says, “When you know better, you do better.”
If writing is an act of discovery, then I came to know myself better as I wrote. Much of what I discovered about myself wasn’t pretty. But as my story took shape, I found the courage to admit my faults, face my fears, and forgive my husband and myself. Though the hardships I endured seemed so personal, I now know that only the particulars are unique. This book is dedicated to all who know the joys and sorrows of loving an alcoholic. My story is your story. My recovery can be yours as well.
Fran Simone, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus, Marshall University. South Charleston, WV, campus. Although her love story ends with her husband's tragic death, it offers hope for renewal and recovery. Her writing has appeared in The Voice and The Quarterly (both of the National Writing Project, U. of California at Berkeley, The Charleston Gazette, and The Forum (a twelve-step publication). Fran has given talks on addiction and recovery and contributed online blog posts Psychology Today, Hazelden/Betty, the Addiction Blog and Central Recovery Press. She shares her experience, strength and hope with loved ones who face the challenges of dealing with family members and friends with addiction use disorders.
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Praise for Dark Wine Waters' by Fran Simone:
"Dark Wine Waters goes way beyond the plethora of recovery books. It is a beautifully written memoir, with its charming water motif throughout, and it so clearly offers everyone a way to continue, to be happy, despite whatever happens. In this, the author has handed all of us a true gift."- Cat Pleska, president of Mountain State Press and author, Riding on Comets (forthcoming, April, 2015)
"Brutally frank and fearless in its honesty, Fran Simone's book is a gift for those who love or have loved alcoholics or addicts. She tells the story of how she jumped into a relationship with a man she never imagined would have the disease of alcoholism. She simply had no reference for such an illness and missed all the clues. Once in love and married, she struggled to keep their life together, admitting she made every mistake possible.
This book boldly explains how alcoholism seduces and corrupts the most innocent of people, both the drinker and the ones who love them. Nicely written and well crafted, Simone's memoir will appeal to those who enjoy a human interest and love story. But more importantly, it is for those caught in the darkness of loving someone with this disease and how they can find joy and hope and a better way to live through recovery."- L. Farwell, Amazon Reviewer
"Fran Simone has written an intimate, deeply honest, and absorbing memoir that clearly shows the four stages of alcoholism through the years of her marriage to Terry. When she begins writing their story and the narrative starts to take shape, she finds "the courage to admit my faults, face my fears, and forgive my husband and myself." Her honesty is compelling.
I particularly like the way the author organizes her story, dividing the book into four parts, each opening with an epigraph of the disease stage. Part 1, for example, opens with "The addict has a 'wow' experience and begins to form a relationship with the drug. Family members may observe subtle changes in personality, and a formidable barrier to communication appears: denial." I leave the rest for you to read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a very well told narrative that intimately shares the lives of two very human people ensnared in the full throes of the disease of alcoholism."- Mary Jo Doig, Story Circle Book Reviews
"I was absorbed in this book from the very first page. The author takes us on her journey through life with an alcoholic from the moment she falls in love with him through the inevitable sad conclusion, yet gives those of us in this struggle hope for recovery.
This book is written with the honesty that can only come from the experience of living those highs and lows. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether you are just looking for an engagingly candid memoir or you are looking for clues to learn to cope when and if you've found yourself in a similar situation."- Peggy E. Gunter, Amazom Reviewer