Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Interview with memoirist Shirley Melis

Please welcome my special guest today, Shirley Melis. I'm just one stop along a virtual book tour she's having. We’re chatting about her memoir about finding the courage and strength to love again, Banged-Up Heart.

The audible version of the book is now available (May 2019).

Shirley Melis is a longtime business writer, travel writer, and newspaper columnist who traveled the world interviewing everyone from busboys to heads of international organizations before launching a career in public relations in Washington, D.C. With Banged-Up Heart, she now takes her writing in a new direction, delving deeply into her own personal story of finding love late, losing it early, and discovering the strength to choose to love again. It is a fascinating odyssey, a journey both creative and erotic as Shirley and John work lovingly together to blend their dreams—until a mysterious bump on his forehead starts them on a tragic struggle against the dark hand of fate.

A graduate of Vassar, Shirley Melis has created an intimate memoir bearing eloquent witness to the kind of wild trust that can grow in the heart of an ordinary woman thrust into circumstances that few others must face. Now retired, she lives in Galisteo, New Mexico.

Welcome, Shirley. Please tell us about your current release.
My book is a memoir. It’s a slice of my life, a significant slice. I’d been widowed nearly two years when I met a rocket scientist who swept me up into a whirlwind courtship. Falling deeply in love, we married and started traveling the world, sharing and realizing dreams of photography (his) and writing (mine) – Little more than a year later, we were fighting for his life against a rare cancer that he’d staved off for 18 years. I felt I was on a roller coaster ride unlike any I’d ever experienced. When it ended, I had to face the questions of if and how I would live.

What inspired you to write this book?
I felt blindsided. I had to figure out what had happened to me. So often, writing helps me see more clearly. At first, I just wanted to relive my wonderful relationship with John. But once I got started, I became wiser, I think – more curious, more demanding. I was curious about John and his behavior toward me. Had he intentionally kept the severity of his illness a secret from me? I was determined to face the questions I had never asked him. In the end, celebrating the relationship was not nearly so important as getting as close to the truth as I could.

Excerpt from Banged-Up Heart:
Like a budding rose, my heart had slowly opened until I found myself capable of loving again. By loving John as I did, I was able to step away from the grief that had run through me like a raging river, its currents swift and unstoppable. Granted, I did not know John fully, but give time, I would. Given time, I would come to know his shadow, and I would love that darkness in him too. I harbored no doubts. My unspoken vow: I love you past all accident. I love you forever.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have another memoir percolating.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was in the 8th grade when I wrote a piece that was printed in our class newsletter, and I felt good about it. But it was only after I graduated from college and landed a job as a newspaper columnist (traveling abroad) that I considered myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I consider myself a full-time writer, although my work days vary because I make time to read, practice the piano and exercise, and I’m active in local government. I also travel extensively. When at home, I usually write in the afternoons. My habit when traveling is to keep a journal, although my recordings are not always consistent.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I use up a lot of yellow lined tablets, especially when I’m expressing deeply emotional thoughts and feelings. And I have to have the right ballpoint pen. I’m partial to freebies I pick up at the bank from time to time.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be Esther Williams and swim the English Channel.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’m crazy about elephants and I love cats, all kinds.


Thanks for being here today, Shirley.

Shirley's other tour stops include:

Feb 15 @ Bring on Lemons with Michelle DelPonte
Michelle DelPonte shares her review of Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart today at Bring on Lemons. Don't miss this exciting blog stop and book giveaway.

Feb 16 @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Fellow memoir writer Madeline Sharples interviews Shirley Melis about her book Banged Up Heart. Don't miss this heart felt interview about courage and love.

Feb 17 @ Jerry Waxler
Coach and Author Jerry Waxler shares his thoughts after reading Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.

Feb 20 @ Bring on Lemons with Crystal Otto
Crystal J. Casavant-Otto shares her review after reading the touching and inspiring memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

Feb 21 @ Deb Blanchard
Teacher Deb Blanchard gives insight into Banged Up Heart the touching memoir by Shirley Melis.

Feb 22 @ Bring on Lemons with Angela Williams
Angela Williams reviews Shirley Melis's Banged Up Heart.

Feb 23 @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Don't miss today's interview between memoirist Linda Appleman Sahpiro and Shirley Melis. Find out more about Melis and her memoir Banged Up Heart.

Feb 23 @ Writer’s Pay it Forward
MC Simon reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis for readers at Writers Pay it Forward. Don't miss this honest review of this courageous memoir.

Feb 24 @ Memoir Writers Journey with Kathleen Pooler
Kathleen Pooler shares her thoughts with readers of Memoir Writer's Journey - find out what Pooler has to say about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.

Feb 27 @ Bring on Lemons with Cathy Hansen
Educator and Entrepreneur Cathy Hansen reads and reviews Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis. You'll want to stop by Bring On Lemons today for your chance to learn more about this touching and encouraging memoir.

Feb 28 @ Bring on Lemons with Cindi Ashbeck
Cindi Ashbeck shares her thoughts after reading the touching story Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

March 1 @ Bring on Lemons with Penny Harrison
Wisconsin business owner and avid reader Penny Harrison shares her thoughts and feelings about Shirley Melis's memoir Banged Up Heart.

March 2 @ Book Santa Fe with Tange Dudet
Avid reader and book enthusiast Tange Dudet shares her thoughts and feelings after reading the touching memoir Banged Up Heart by Shirley Melis.

March 3 @ The Constant Story with David W. Berner
Author and radio personality David W Berner reviews Shirley Melis's book Banged Up Heart and shares his thoughts with readers at The Constant Story.


Crystal Otto said...

This is a great interview - thank you Lisa for hosting and thank you Shirley for your willingness to share!

Shirley Melis said...

Crystal, I enjoyed Lisa's interview. As I've mentioned to others who thank me for sharing my story, when I started my memoir I was writing for myself. However, when a friend read a few chapters and said others would be interested, I thought, Really? Then I'd better go the distance and make it worthwhile. I'm more than willing to share my story. I'm truly gratified.

Shirley Melis said...

Lisa, thank you for your heart-warming, fun interview . . . and for posting it, along with pertinent info. about Banged-Up Heart, on your blog!

Shirley Melis said...

Lisa, since our interview, Banged-Up Heart has become an audiobook, available on Audible. The clarity and depth of narrator Laurie Bower enhances the emotional impact. I urge your readers to take a listen. While I'm partial to holding a book in hand, audiobooks are just the ticket when I'm on the treadmill or running errands.