ABOUT THE BOOKFrantic flight, peaceful life. Act of treason on an island country. Cauldron of warring emotions. Exotic beauty, ace with a gun. Hunk with gifts for mockery and cooking. Nine-year-old Leilani and her family mysteriously flee the island country of Costa Mora, leaving her father. Years later, her peaceful solitary life in California ends when she rescues Justin Halverson from thugs and she learns a devastating truth about her father. As she agonizes over her father, Justin comforts her, and they’re drawn closer together. With Justin, she returns to her birthplace to get her father quietly out. There, she reconnects with her past, but can she forgive her father and accept him for who he is? Can she finally be at peace with who she is? Welcome, Reluctant Stranger interweaves a love story into a tale of past political intrigue and Leilani’s inner journey, accepting her past.
Our Inevitable Love Affair With Stories
We may very well be wired for stories. We have many uses for them. They can make us cry, laugh, get angry. They may change how we see things, draw us closer together, and push us to take certain actions.
There is power in stories. They can change our brains, say some social scientists who have studied brain cells and substances our bodies produce while we watch, read, or listen to stories. Researchers have shown:
People who read a lot of fiction tend to have higher levels of empathy and better social skills than those who don’t, probably because of the strengthening of the mirror neuron (brain cell for empathy).
Storytelling may have been and will continue to be essential to our evolution into compassionate beings.
But it’s not only listening to stories, reading, or watching films that’s proven of benefit to us. Writing stories, especially ours (as in a memoir), can also heal what ails us. How? Via a form known as “expressive writing.” If you keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, then you have engaged in expressive writing.
Psychotherapists know this. They may include Writing Therapy (a formalized sort of expressive writing) in their arsenal of psychotherapy/counseling techniques, along with those based on art and music. Writing Therapy is effective, particularly for treating debilitating stress after traumatic events.
So, do you need to go into Writing Therapy for the act of writing to help you cope with trauma, emotional pain, grief, loss, or anything else that bothers you? Fortunately, the answer is no. Just take up pen and paper or your preferred electronic gadget and open your soul.
Here is what some authors say about what writing stories did for them:
“Writing saved me from the sin and inconvenience of violence.” Alice Walker, Pulitzer prize winner (The Color Purple)
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” Graham Greene, British novelist shortlisted for Nobel Prize (25 novels)
“The more I wrote, the more I became a human being . . . I was getting the poison out of my system.” Henry Miller, American literary innovator (Tropic of Cancer)
Pouring a painful experience on paper or your computer is cathartic. Even the act of reading through what you’ve written can be therapeutic. When you go back later to a journal of your experience, you’re more detached and can see it with fresh eyes. Your perspective can change and you may realize there is a lesson you can learn from it.
I started writing my thoughts and feelings in a little notebook when I was a kid, to help me cope with the loneliness of an only daughter whose three brothers didn’t want to be bothered with a sister. I think I have finally become reasonably comfortable with myself. But writing has grown into a habit I’ve become addicted to.
Much has been written on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Here’s one you can find on the web: http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/11/5/338.full
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She’s a well-traveled flâneuse — a female observer-wanderer — who watches, observes, listens. And writes. A sucker for happy endings, she finds enough that depresses her about real life, but seeks no catharsis by writing about it. For her, writing is escape, entertainment. She doesn’t strive to enlighten. Not deliberately. But the bias of her old profession does carry over into her writing. So, instead of broad shoulders and heaving bosoms, she goes into protagonists' thoughts, emotions, inner conflicts, insecurities, and struggles to reach balance and grow.