Today, we welcome Paige Strickland to discuss her memoir, Akin to the Truth, while she is on her WOW! Women On Writing blog tour. This is a beautiful book about Paige’s search for her biological parents. We talk a lot about strong women on this blog–Paige is one of the strongest. Memoir writers are sharing a piece of their soul with the world–and Paige does that in her book. Here’s some more info from the WOW! site:
In 1961, adoption was still one of those private and taboo topics. Not much identifying information was provided for adoptive families or for birth parents by the agencies. In Ohio, records were sealed forever. As a child and teenager, growing up adopted was like a Scarlet Letter “A” if anyone ever found out the truth. At least, that’s the way Paige felt as she muddled through social situations and other interpersonal relations. She always loved her adoptive family, but realized she wanted not just more, but what other “regular born” people had: real roots, accurate health history and authentic family lore. She wanted freedom from shame, more dignity, authenticity and a full identity. Then, through random chance, a local TV talk show in 1987 revealed that certain records were open if you were born before 1964 in the state of Ohio.
“During her quest, (pre computer), for her identity, her adoptive father struggled with his own self-image and sense of belonging, so both father and daughter embarked on separate and unique parallel missions to find what was missing in their lives. This is the story of how being adopted affected Paige growing up in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s. It shows how one adoptee has embraced and learned to view family more globally. She tells the saga of a loving but dysfunctional family of both blood and choice, trying to cope with typical and not so typical life alterations during the decades of social revolution and free love. She learns that the most fascinating family stories are discovered by those passionate enough to question and search.”
LL: Thank you, Paige, for allowing us to interview you about your beautiful memoir, Akin to the Truth. What made you want to write a memoir about your adoption experience?
Paige: Hi, Margo, thanks for hosting me. It began as a way to explain to my young children about who was who in our complicated family. From there, it just grew into a bigger project: a story with a theme and a plot. The deeper I delved into the writing, the more I realized I had a real book project going and not just an account of this cousin and that uncle. The challenge was to introduce my daughters to family members as I knew them years ago, give some back stories and tie in my adoption and birth family members.
LL: What a great reason to start writing your story!How difficult was the writing? Was it painful? Therapeutic?
Paige: It wasn’t painful for me at all. Enough time had transpired between the time of my writing and the time some sad past events occurred, that I could write fairly level-headed. The hardest parts for me were writing about a very terrifying dream I once had and about losing my grandma. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t relive some things I didn’t like, but I also knew that now I was an adult in control of my life. I just took breaks and opened a Diet Coke, pet my cat, fiddled on Facebook for 20 minutes, or talked on the phone to someone. Then I went back to writing.
I found the writing process to be therapeutic and creative more than painful.
Paige: It took about a year. That’s because once my school schedule is fully underway, I don’t have time for hardly anything else. I finished final edits at the end of the summer and published it in September. I’d tried for almost 18 months to pitch to agents, the traditional way. The memoir market is abundant, the economy is slow, and I don’t have special connections. Independently publishing is now more widely accepted plus the author has so much more creative input for how the book looks, and I had very specific ideas about the book cover, which I didn’t want messed with. I decided to publish on my own and be my own “agent.” Akin to the Truth is available through Apple iBooks, Kindle and Amazon/CreateSpace. I believe print books can also be ordered via Barnesandnoble.com.
LL: Several of our readers may be interested in writing their own memoir. How do they make their story stand out among the hundreds on the market?
Paige: First, you need to determine who your reading audience might be. You also have to decide what your goals are for writing and promoting your work. For a memoir to be successful commercially, it should have a cover that looks inviting to your desired readers. It should have a theme and a plot, similar to a work of fiction with characterization and rich description. I would advise anyone writing and wanting to publish professionally to invest in your beloved project and hire an editor, no matter how competent a writer you think you are. Next comes finding assorted marketing strategies for promoting your work.
LL: Great tips! Who is the perfect reading audience for Akin to the Truth?
Paige: Akin to the Truth has a wide variety of readers, but the most likely audience would be members of the adoption triad: adoptees, birth family members and adoptive family members. Next would be people involved in social work or counseling, educators and others interested in child development. This book will appeal to readers who like references to the 1970s and 80s, and mostly females between the ages of 15-75. It is a family story with a coming of age element to it.
Thank you all again for featuring Akin to the Truth. I hope you enjoy!