I grew up in Upstate New York in the small college town of Oswego. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (Arizona State University, 1990) and a Master of Arts in Public Administration (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1996).
Yet, despite my education and all the years I spent working in health care, writing was always in the back of my mind calling me, haunting me. Perhaps, I was avoiding it. Writing causes one to reflect so deeply that we must face our innermost fears and weaknesses. Later, when I was home raising my young children, I started writing this book. It was then that I understood that writing wasn’t something I wanted to do, it is something I had to do. Writing was my true calling.
WHY I DECIDED TO WRITE, THE UNCOMMITTED
I knew from a young age I wanted to be an author. I didn’t know what I would write about initially but over time, the story took shape—first in my mind and then on paper and eventually on my laptop screen. Nevertheless, my parents, first–generation Italian-Americans, encouraged me to choose a field that would provide me with an immediate living. With that, I chose nursing, a solid career that not only provided me with a good living but also material for this book (and future books) featuring a nurse as the main character. So, in the end, my mother, an art teacher and painter, and my father, an English teacher and writer--passed on a creative gene that even their pragmatism and post-depression era values could not stifle.
It took almost nine years for me to complete this novel. Most times, my writing was done on an old laptop sitting at our dining room table, coffee shops and bookstores, on the bleachers at my kids’ hockey practices and in my car during their soccer practices. Often it was written one sentence at a time.
The inspiration for The Uncommitted stemmed from the death of my mother from pancreatic cancer. Born to a family of women with strong intuition, my mother believed in an unbreakable bond between those of us who are the living and those who are dead. I believe many of the paintings she left behind are vibrant images she subconsciously perceived of heaven. My desire to become a writer, though, I owe in large part to my late father, a high school English and journalism teacher. He grew up farming in rural Oswego, New York and I suppose it was the years of hard labor that led to his love of music and writing as a form of relaxation and entertainment. I still remember him letting me sit at his typewriter and pretend to write as he did.
OTHER IMPORTANT INFLUENCES
When I write, I like to listen to music. Several popular bands of the 1990’s (U2, Green Day, Collective Soul, the Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others) inspired much of the imaginative world I wrote about. All I can say is music captures my heart and mind and takes me places I would not otherwise think of going.
Further, the reflections on faith and God written by Saint Therese of Lisieux, Thomas Merton and Saint Theresa of Avila, have had a significant impact on me in the course of writing this book. I found their experiences fascinating and enlightening and sometimes, frightening. Other books that influenced me during the course of writing this novel included, “What Dreams May Come” by Richard Matheson, “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti and “Into the Wild” by John Krakauer.