Thursday, August 8, 2013

Writing Our Lives: Interview with Katherine Thompson, Author of The Day I Woke Up

Describe your book for readers.

It is the account of the first ten months of my life living with retrograde amnesia. Recording from that very first moment I looked around and realised I had no idea where I was or who I was through to life once settling down. Meeting family and friends at the age of 26 and not knowing who they are, yet these people holding photographs of you and them from only a few weeks previous as well as, not understanding the concept of God when living with a religious family, so much seemed to happen in the first few months, and this book is an open invite for people to share with me the highs and lows of the first ten months.

It is a story that will inspire you, with moments that will make you laugh, and possibly cry, there shall be insights you may never have considered before as well as emotional rides you will recognise within yourself.  

What is retrograde amnesia?

Retrograde amnesia is a loss of memory-access to events that occurred before a specific event or illness; the inability to recall information mainly personal information. 

Psychogenic amnesia (Which is what I have) is defined as having retrograde amnesia (the inability to recall past memories) yet being able to form new long term memories. This is different from organic retrograde amnesia as psychogenic amnesia occurs without damage to the brain. It usually occurs from a traumatic incident. 

What is the treatment for that type of memory loss?

There is no real answer to 'treatment' for amnesia unless you know the cause. If the retrograde amnesia is organic, where there has been damage to the brain or an illness, I.E a lesion on the brain then treating the 'illness' or the 'brain' itself, may cure the amnesia. Whereas trauma induced amnesia usually leaves the person not remembering what happened to them, therefore the trauma can not be treated (which would be through therapy, some try hypnosis as a means to try and recall the information). 

Have you recovered your memory?

No. Three years later and I still have no recall of memory from before the 22nd July 2010.

Why did you decide to write the book?

After I first lost my memory I saw a counsellor who encouraged me to journal, as a manner of coping with the present day life. Towards the end of my counselling Wendy, my counsellor encouraged me to ‘share’ my story with people, to inspire others, and help others who too may be experiencing some of the emotions I had struggled with and overcame, even if there situation was different. One of the ways she suggested was to write a book. I gave it some time, and thought, and decided that actually, I would.

What has been the response to the book?

The response has been very positive indeed. Many people have emailed me or sent me a facebook message to tell me how inspired they have been, and people have found new understanding of different illness. One person who read the book living thousands of miles away from me who I would never have encountered in my walk without the book has a father with dementia; they found themselves a completely new understanding of how their father must be feeling, as well as some helpful tips in how to talk with him. Some others who are in the medical profession have said it is a very insightful book whilst others who have simply read it as an inspirational read have expressed their enjoyment.

What is your writing background?

Well, having lost my memory, I don’t know what my background is but over the last few years it has only been journaling as well as reflective diary / assessments weekly for college.

Are you working on another book now?


Tell us about your writing process.

Once I had decided to compile the journals into a book, I then decided to have the book edited. Whilst this was happening, I looked into ways and manners to have the book published and decided that actually self publishing would be just as complicated as well as easy as finding a publisher to take on my word. Once I had found my way of publishing, it was easy. The process of actually writing the book was in some ways very difficult because I found myself reading and rereading the book over and over. Then there was the idea of my life being exposed in such a manner, this issue didn’t really arise until after I had published it, though I had doubts before hand, once it became available to the world, I found myself some what fearful of what others would both think, and know.

Any tips for writers, especially memoir writers?

The best ‘tip’ I could ever give someone is actually a question; “Why are you writing the book?”

Ensure your motives are from the heart! If you are someone who has a passion for writing, or you feel you have a story that could benefit someone else in the world then I would say don’t give up! Keep going, the hard work (as it is hard work) and the emotional rollercoaster ride is worth it. There shall be days you wonder why you are doing it as well as days you enjoy every step, no matter what kind of day you are having, don’t give up. If you are looking to make money, you could be setting yourself up for a fall.

ENJOY it! If you really are not enjoying what you are doing, don’t do it. 

Katherine's book is available on Amazon.  Take a look.



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