I wanted to share a news story on one of the Authors at work. She is an amazing artist and writer. She wrote Maurice’s Daughter which you can read my review here
How did it feel when you heard the news that your book, Maurice’s Daughter was to be printed?
Fabulous. Jaw dropping. Amazing. Shell shocked. I was in a complete state of joy and utter happiness. It was my Super Bowl. A moment I wished was captured on film or bottled up. One minute you are laughing the next you are crying with pride and joy. At first I did not believe it. After 10 years of being rejected from other Publishing houses around the country I was a little skeptical. I had my hopes DENIED by a few PH that was interested, but it did not work out. Publishing a book that has the same illustrator and author is very hard, if not impossible. Most Publishers want to hire their own illustrators. They do not want to pay the double royalty fees. Finding a publisher that deals with Greif/Bereavement is also taxing. It is not a money maker and most publishers know they will not come out ahead on this topic. It’s a small nitch in the publishing world. So, I would not believe it until I saw it was my first reaction when Lilly Herndon Weaks with The Fig and The Vine Publishing contacted me with the contract. Three months later they sent me my first hard back copy. My husband opened up a bottle of champagne and we sat and read them silently with each other on the couch. At the same time we conference called one of my best friends who is also one of my new editors. We all laughed and cried. It was a great moment to hold my beautiful book and actually smell the new pages. I just sat and stared at it. I will never forget that day. It is right up there with the best days of my life. Shortly after I was told they wanted my book, my publisher said they were going to try their best to rush the print so I could be a part of the Book’s A Million’s Fall Book Festival in South Carolina. Sure enough the book was printed in time and I had my first book signing on the anniversary of my father’s death. I sold my first book to a man who had been told by his doctors that he only had 6 months to live. 3 years later he was standing before me with his new and first granddaughter and asked me to sign the book, “Life is a gift Sarah Bell.” I have been signing it that way with every book I sell. I believe everything happens for a reason. There are no coincidences in life. I truly believe that God gave me that day, October 16th for my first book signing to guarantee my belief that we will all see our loved ones again. I think my dad sat right next to me that day.
This is something that is rarely talked about. The moment when you see your book on the book shelves in a book store is one of the most humbling and rewarding experiences an author can have. When I turned the corner to see my book Maurice’s Daughter on the shelf with my husband I had to act very calm and cool. I had to contain myself for the book store would have probably kicked us out because all I wanted to do was swing from the rafters like a gymnast, jump up and down in glory and high five every one is the store. Once we were outside and down the block we did a few cart wheels and fist bumped each other. That was a great day as well.
When did you have the burning desire to right this book?
My father was killed in a car accident in October 1995. His death and the grief that followed brought me to my knees and for many months I placed my life on hold. It was a very sad time. You become very numb to all the things that you loved in life. Food, happiness, and sunlight. I was not raised with a religion so my family was my faith. I had many questions and concerns with the aged old questions of life and death. The burning desire to create a book did not come right away. It was very gradual over a couple of years. I soon began to dream of heaven and my dad. I painted the dreams God gave me and it transformed into a book. For some time I did not know how to end the story until this beautiful angel came to me in my dreams and gently woke me up and whispered to me “wake up my dear… please do not sleep your life away.” I think symbolically God knew that the veil of depression was done and it gave me strength to move on and look forward to another day.
Who and/or what has been your strongest support and motivation?
It was my father and the family he created with my mom that supported and motivated me to publish his story along with dreams God gave me to help others with. I know that I would never had this chance to see the other side if it was not for my dad’s death. In many ways God gave me the paintings to paint. I simply held the brush and the dreams took over. Some people have one rock in their life. I have many. I am very lucky to have a husband whose greatest goal is to make sure I follow my dreams like he has, my mother Kathie who has stood next to me through out every hurdle and accomplishment, my amazing and very loving siblings; Meegan, Noel and Lana and a sea of friends both new and old who have supported me with this dream. As an educator for 15 years I was extrememely motivated to publish this story for children to use as well. While I created the book I kept in mind that I wanted to create a gentle and soft approach about death, heaven and the grief that follows after you lose a loved one. I wanted the message to be about healing and feeling okay and content for that moment. I wanted my illustrations to convey the beauty of where their loved one went. I truly feel I missed the chance to help many during 911. I used to live in NYC and you could feel the world’s sadness every time you left the front door for a while. The city grew very quiet in its sadness.
Most people have a hard time listening to their heart and following their passion, what did it take to believe that this book was the right thing for you to do at that moment in your life?
In so many ways I started it shortly after he died. I began to journal what I was feeling, with cards, poems and messages people gave me, words I heard over the week of the wake and funeral. I remember the closing line of the poem that I read for his uligy,
“please paint us a path to follow now in life, for our eyes are blinded with sadness.”
Shortly after I started to receive the dreams, I began to paint them. I think as an artist you instinctively follow your heart and listen to that sic sense and most importantly to what your soul is motivating you to do. As soon as the narration and the story took shape I could not put down the paint brush for months that transformed into years. It evolved over time. When you have the right compass everything falls into place as it should. The pictures of the pages took over my imagination on many days.
Do you have other projects that you are working on that you’d like to share with us?
Yes, many. My publisher is keeping me busy with endorsing the book with book signings, workshops and lectures across Florida. I have partnered with Tidewell Hospice organization with a couple of book signings and they are now using my book within their facilities. I will be at Barnes and Noble June 4th and on July 4th I am having a signing in Hayward, Wisconsin. My father built my cabin close by and I am very excited to bring his story back home. Besides working on the marketing aspect of the book, I am currently researching my next book and illustrating book jackets for another author at the moment.
I have my hand painted baby clothes at Babes n’ Bellies and hand painted children’s furniture at The Giggle Box, both in South Tampa. I am currently painting a surf themed mural for a little girl’s room in Trinity. You can see more of my work at www.galinafouks.com.
Where is the coolest place you have ever visited on the great Earth?
Some of my favorite places would be: Bath, England, Paisley, Scotland, St. Marteen, West Indies, Savanah Georgia, La Jolla, California, The Red Rocks & Pikes Peak Colorado, The Arron Islands, Ireland, Paris, Sitges, Spain, BUT my favorite place on earth will always be my cabin on Spider Lake in Northern Wisconsin.
Article and materials belong to Galina J. Fouks-Abele Rising Star by Billy Castro