I saw a feature on “Free Fall” by Amber Lea Easton on a writer’s blog [Lucy Pireel] and I was immediately drawn in by the subject: surviving your husband’s suicide.
The book is truly amazing. Easton opened my eyes to the tragedy and its manifold implications that this period in her life held for her and her children.
The book is written in raw honesty but does a splendid job at sticking to the author’s side of the experience. Without portraying herself as a victim or accusing those around her who did or could not help, Easton describes her experience soberly and in a way that broke my heart.
Maybe the book was written in parts as a catharsis but it will serve perfectly for other ‘suicide survivors’ to learn that they are not alone, that their worst experiences have happened to others, too, and that – like Easton – they will come out at the other end, that this will pass too.
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time.
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others.
Unlike the author says in the foreword, this book is certainly not just for people with such a bereavement and/ or their friends. It is a good read for anyone. If the book taught me something it is to be more aware of how such a drama may feel. I’d like to thank the author for opening up and sharing her story for the rest of us to learn from it.
Hi Amber, please tell us a little about yourself, as a writer and as a person.
I’m a passionate dreamer, hopeless romantic, mother of two teenagers, wanderer of the world, explorer of self, perpetual student, lover of music, and eternal optimist. Pardon all the adjectives. As for who I am as a writer, I’m driven by emotion whether I’m writing romantic suspense or nonfiction.
What made you decide to be a writer? Have you always written?
I started writing when I was nine years old. I would sit on my parents’ roof, stare at the horizon, dream of all the adventures I’d have one day, and scribble stories in notebooks. This evolved into a career in journalism with a brief stint in advertising. I eventually published my romantic suspense novels with Siren-Bookstrand Publishing in 2011. Now I’m both published and self-published.
Could you briefly describe what your reason to write this book was and what message you are trying to bring across with this book? Is it intended as inspiration, self-help or factual information?
It is both factual and inspirational. “Free Fall” has been a journey. I often questioned my intentions for needing to write it. But that’s the thing, you see. I felt compelled to write this story of my husband’s suicide and the subsequent fallout because I had never in my life been so alone. I didn’t want another person to feel that kind of confusion and loneliness. It’s my intention that my story will inspire those who haven’t gone through such a tragedy to act with compassion rather than judgment. For those who have experienced a similar trauma, I hope my story gives them hope and reassurance that they are not alone.
How do you come up with your ideas about the structure of the book?
I read through my journals written during the time period. I went through them a few times, actually, because it was quite painful going backward like that. During the second read-through, I started using post-its on the pages of what I needed to include. Believe me, this was a challenging experience. Some of the pages in my journal were filled with such intense pain and statements like “Sean, why”, “I’m so angry” or “grief sucks” scribbled over and over again in large letters. Tear stains blurred ink on the pages that brought it all back to the present. Like I said, I questioned why I wanted to experience that kind of pain again, but I couldn’t shake the notion that I needed to do it. I met people in my support groups who didn’t have the words to describe their own experiences yet felt as isolated as I did who encouraged me to be their voice. So here it is.
How do you decide which pieces to put in and which ones to let out?
I needed to keep the focus on my perspective only, without blaming others or coming off as bitter. I don’t know if you’ve ever kept a journal, but, for me, I use journals as a way of venting out all the darkness I may be feeling. I needed to weed through some of that brutal pain and raw anger to pull out the truth of the experience. That’s not an easy task, which is why I made a point in the foreword of the book to say “Free Fall” is written from my point of view alone. I also wanted an end point—which is why I stopped the book at two years out rather than going forward through present day. Why two years? Well, that’s when the huge fall out occurred, when the shock wore off, and when I probably acted the most erratically (in my opinion). After two years, there were still rough spots and developmental challenges for all of us as a family, but I didn’t want to weaken the message of the book by going on and on. Yes, this happened. Yes, this is how I dealt with it, right or wrong. Yes, we made it to the other side of grief.
How comfortable do you feel writing to inspire others?
I’m completely out of my comfort zone with this book. I’m not at all at ease in this role. Like I said, I felt compelled to write it because I felt like a carnival freak show at times after my husband’s suicide and never want one other person to feel like that. If I can be that one person who holds the figurative hand of another in their darkest moments, then this all will have meant something.
How long did it take you to write?
Six months from the opening of the journals to the completion of the book.
How do you write? What is your writing environment like?
I have a roll top desk covered with pictures of fun moments from my life—a picture of me as twenty-one year old in Greece with some sexy men at my side, my late husband and I swimming with dolphins, friends and I in Las Vegas, kids and I in the Dominican Republic, me kissing a sea lion in Mexico…fun memories that make me happy. I also have momentos from my late grandfather sitting within reach. In between all of that, I have candles and incense that I always burn when I write. My dogs are usually underfoot while the cats supervise from their tower behind me. There’s a wood stove about five feet away that’s constantly burning from late October to May (I live at 8500 foot elevation in the Rocky Mountains so it’s a bit chilly). I put on my headphones so I can blast iTunes and write away in my own little world. There’s a rule in my house that I’m not to be disturbed unless someone is bleeding from a mortal wound or fire is licking at the door.
How many rewrites did it take you?
“Free Fall” took about five or six rewrites. I truly wanted to make sure I stuck to my point of view, kept on point, and delivered a raw/honest account of my journey without going over-the-top. It probably could have been longer, but I felt I needed to keep it streamlined. It’s rather intense and I didn’t want to overburden the reader.
Who are your favourite authors / influences?
I have many favorite authors, but there are a few that shaped me early in life. Sidney Sheldon definitely inspired me during my teen years with his international thrillers. Danielle Steele and Nora Roberts brought forth my love of the romance genre. Now one of my favorite essayists is David Sedaris who never fails to make me laugh out loud in the most inappropriate public places.
What are your next projects? Another book?
Yes, I have two more romantic suspense novels, “Dancing Barefoot” and “The Pretenders”, slated for release in the upcoming months.
Where would be likely to find out about them?
My author page on Facebook is the easiest way to stay in touch with me. http://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberLeaEaston
What song would you pick to go with your book?
Good question. Well, “Free Fall” is pretty intense . I listened to a soundtrack of my own creation while writing it that consisted of Sade, Bonnie Rait, Snow Patrol, Coldplay, Pink, and the Black Crowes. An eclectic mix. Here is a link to my book trailer:
Did you have any say in your cover art? What do you think of it? Tell us about the artist.
I’m the artist. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the cover to look like so set out to make it a reality.
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
I have an advantage of being both published and self-published so I can compare the two. Both have pros and cons. With self-publishing, I’ve enjoyed the control I have in all aspects. I’m still doing the same amount of marketing I’ve done with my publisher so that’s not an issue. I guess the downside is that there are times I wish I could call my editor at the publishing house and have her deal with things—delegating the madness, I suppose you could call it. I think one of the lows of self-publishing is the stigma that comes with it, even though I am technically “published” through traditional methods as well. To be honest, though, I understand the stigma because I’ve met some Indie authors who need to go back to writing 101. That’s a fact, not a judgment. However, to stereotype all Indies that way is wrong and shouldn’t be done. It’s a mixed bag. Do I prefer one over the other? No. I like being diversified. I sincerely run my writing business as a business rather than a hobby. I publish with multiple publishers, including myself at this point. I think it’s smart to have different income streams and varying perspectives.
What do you like best about writing? What’s your least favourite thing?
The creativity is the best part. Writing gives me a high like nothing else. The least favorite part? Well, dealing with the arrogance of other authors. As a journalist, I understood competitiveness. I didn’t realize that would be tripled amidst published authors, which is something I don’t understand. It’s a hard business, but the work stands alone at the end of the day. Most authors help each other, but there are some that live to stir up trouble. It’s exhausting. I love the readers, the writing, my editors, but other authors can sometimes be a pain in the ass. I hope I’m not being too honest. Sometimes I don’t have a censor and apparently that’s the case this morning.
What is your advice to new writers?
Accept feedback and learn from those who have experience. Too often (this morning in fact on an author forum) I hear authors say they reject advice and feedback and do exactly as they please. Well, guess where their careers are? Stagnant. The only way to improve is to listen to feedback from your editor, your mentors, and the readers. Do you need to change your style or become a slave to others’ opinions? NO! That’s not what I’m saying. Be like a palm tree that bends in the wind but remains strong in its roots. People succeed because they’ve learned to adapt and listen.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m reading The Witness by Sandra Brown in Kindle format.
How do you handle criticism of your work?
I’m pretty thick skinned after years of being a journalist so try to let it roll off my back. When I worked at a progressive magazine, for example, a woman would call me once a week to tell me that I was an evil minion of Satan’s. At first this bugged me, but then it became more like, “well, it’s Thursday so I’ll probably get the Satan call again.” There are times negative feedback frustrates me if I feel I’m being misunderstood, but mostly I just let it go. I love feedback from my editor, though. It’s fair to say I crave it. I know that I’ve revised my work so much that I can’t be objective and appreciate a fresh set of eyes looking at it. As for reviews, I’ve been fortunate to receive many good reviews, but I know there will always be someone out there who hates everything I do. That’s fine. There are best selling authors that I can’t stand. It’s all subjective.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on revisions for “Dancing Barefoot” which is a story about a woman who is torn between pursuing her passion, risking all she’s worked for on a dream, or living for the expectations of others. To spice it up, there’s a sabateur in her midst who is undermining her confidence and success. It’s actually one of my favorties thus far because the love story is…let’s say…sizzling. My keyboard is steaming. I also think this lead character, Jessica, is a true reflection of myself, which has been interesting to write.
Tell us about your other books.
I have “Kiss Me Slowly”, which is a romantic suspense about diamond smuggling, embezzlement, murder, and love on the run under Miami sun. Then there’s “Riptide” which is about stalkers, betrayal, envy, and love triumphing over it all. It’s set in the Cayman Islands, one of my favorite places in the Caribbean. My latest romantic suspense is “Reckless Endangerment” about a soldier returning home from Afghanistan and having a hard time adjusting to his ‘new normal’ and his wife who’s fighting for their marriage while investigating a human trafficking ring that’s threatening their very existence. Yeah, I like high-stakes drama. I’m working hard to keep the drama in the fiction and OUT of my personal life these days, though.
Buy Links for Free Fall:
Buy links for all books can be found on my author website: http://www.amberleaeaston.com
Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night http://amberleaeaston.blogspot.com
Moxie Girl Musings http://moxiegirlwriting.blogspot.com
Social Media: Twitter @MtnMoxieGirl
My review of RECKLESS ENGANGERMENT
I was interested in “Reckless Endangerment” by Amber Lea Easton because of some of her non-fiction work that had quite impressed me and I wanted to see how her talent would show in a different genre.
From the first page is was evident how well Easton can draw her readers into the story and how skilful she creates characters that we instantly will want to know more about. The wounded Afghanistan war veteran Michael and his journalist love interest Hope are far from one dimensional creations and the problems they face in their strange relationship are much more gripping than a mere ‘taming-of-the-shrew’ scenario. Both characters have a lot to keep you interested in them and make you want them to succeed and grow.
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you – like myself – want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended.
Book review, death of spouse, grief, inspirational, interview, Memoir, relationships, romance author, suicide, widow