If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

WWK's May interviews will be: 5/2--indie author Bobbi Holmes, 5/9--TG Wolff (aka--Anita Devito), 5/16--Chocolate Bonbon author Dorothy St. James, 5/23--Lida Sideris, 5/30--Food Lovers' Village (and multiple Agatha winner) Leslie Budwitz. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our May Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 5/5--John Carenen, 5/12--Judy Penz Sheluk, 5/19--Margaret S. Hamilton, 5/26--Kait Carson.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), will be available on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here.

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with the authors in this anthology on 4/14! Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in August, 2018.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fifth Course of Chaos.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Finding And Losing My Father

What is your most meaningful work?

For me, there is a definite answer - Writing about my father.

At my father’s request, phrased – “You wouldn’t be willing to help me write my autobiography would you?” I assisted him in writing a memoir he wanted to leave for his descendants. (In the process I learned he asked my mother for a first date by saying, “You wouldn’t want to go out with me, would you?” She said, “Yes” and he hung up thinking she had refused. She had to call him back.) By the time in his life he asked for my help, my father had suffered heart attacks, strokes and been declared clinically dead twice.

He had a realistic expectation that he would not live much longer. There were things he wanted to tell his grandchildren and great grandchildren about his life. He seemed surprised that I immediately answered that I would be delighted to help.

We started with face-to-face interviews. Later he sent me tapes with long phrases I could not make out either because of his slurred speech or because He let the microphone drop far enough from his mouth that the tape recorder did not pick up his soft speech. I would write what I could understand, send him a copy, ask questions and make corrections based on his feedback to me. In left-handed writing that he developed after his stroke since his dominant right hand remained nearly useless.

My poor health slowed the process. I needed a bone marrow transplant to treat my multiple myeloma (bone marrow cancer.) It was at least six months before I could continue the work.

The most difficult part for my father was recalling his experiences as a combat infantryman.For several years after coming home from the war, my dad had nightmares about what happened to him. Bringing up memories he had tried to forget brought back those nightmares.

To me, my father had always been an imposing figure. As a child I knew nothing about the effect of trauma or posttraumatic stress disorders. I only knew that my father became angry easily and had limited tolerance for noise and disorder. He was brilliant, impatient and ambitious. I had no doubt that he loved me, but frankly, he scared me at times.

As he reviewed and relived his days, I came to better understand the boy and then adolescent who became my father. In my father’s voice and face I found the young man torn from a safe existence and sent to Europe to kill or be killed. Stories about his experiences in the army I’d heard from my childhood acquired different significance as I learned details my father had omitted to protect his children.

Dad was impatient to finish his story. Before it was as polished as I wanted, he told me to make one last revision. I made a last effort and sent it back as he asked. It was his story to tell. He had it typed up and bound at a local copy shop. Maybe he knew something I did not. It was not long after that when he started to show symptoms of dementia. Fortunately he is still living but he could not begin to tell the story of his life now. When he introduces me to his friends he says, “Warren wrote my autobiography.” If I had not been a writer, I would not have the opportunity to know my father as I came to know him while helping him write his memoir. I doubt if anyone outside the family will ever read it. Believe me, as a writer I know it needs a lot of revision. Still, to me it is the most important work I have done.


E. B. Davis said...

I'm glad you had the opportunity and skills to write your father's story. So often, we know little of our parents aside their roles to us. Sometimes parents purposely hide behind their roles, which is why I'm always curious when friends call their parents "Mother" and "Father." Those are roles, not names, like "Mom" and "Dad." There is a subtle difference. As writers, we tell our own stories through our writing, although masked behind our characters, and we reveal ourselves.

Ramona said...

What a beautiful post to share, Warren.

It sounds like your dad was one of so many "greatest generation" soldiers who endured horrifying experiences, but came home and tried to man up and forget about them. How much we have learned about PTSD since then. I'm glad that he was able to finally share it with someone, and that that someone was a caring son.

Kari Wainwright said...

Such a gift your father gave you and you gave him. Your story brought tears to my eyes.

Lorna Barrett said...

My Dad wanted to write his "memoirs" and only got through the war years. Several years ago he had a stroke, and thought I encouraged him to do more on them, he didn't seem to have the time. He's gone now. How I wish I had insisted we work on them together.

Lou Allin said...

Very sweet, Warren. I keep my dad alive in my writing, too. He's in a nursing home, but sharp enough to help my sleuth with a clue or two from old films.

Pauline Alldred said...

Thank you for sharing, Warren. Even without knowing the whole story, I was picturing your dad. I know mine hid his war experiences and thought his job was to work and support us. He missed our growing up but recovered something of what he'd lost through his grandchildren.

E. B. Davis said...

That's so cool, Lou. My dad is in a nursing home and also quite sharp. Too bad he doesn't appreciate fiction--he's nonfiction all the way. My mom was the fiction reader.

Warren Bull said...

Thank you all for your kind words. It was a memorable experience. Some years ago there was a book titled
Flag of our Fathers about a man who learns of his father's war experience. It was quite moving

Pamela DuMond, D.C. said...

Warren, that was a beautiful tribute to your dad.

Thank you.

KatAp said...

Warren, I am so glad you helped Grandpa write his memoirs because they are a treasure to me. I love knowing more about the Grandpa I've always adored. Thank you for doing it!

Polly said...

Very nice post, Warren. What a wonderful experience, and how prescient of your father to ask for your help. I'm sure it's a gift you'll long remember.

jennymilch said...

I would read it! What a wonderful story...your father's, I'm sure, but also of the journey the two of you took together to reach a greater understanding.

Kaye George said...

What a gift you gave each other. A very sweet story, indeed.