I’ve just published my first book under my own name. It weighs in at just over 10,000 words so shouldn’t take you more than an hour to read, although it took me a good six months to write. It’s a memorial to my niece, Jessica. She died in February at the age of 20.
The book comprises an essay on my last-minute dash to Arkansas for her funeral, the transcript of that funeral and an essay I wrote after the death of my Japanese father-in-law last year.
I hope the book is not as morbid as it sounds. There is much of positive value to be learnt from my niece’s short life (and a little from my father-in-law’s long one). While it’s not sensible to dwell on death, it’s not wise to ignore it either. And in that spirit I hope the book is not voyeuristic or mawkish, but shines a journalistic light on some strange but familiar territory of last rites in the East and West.
It certainly wasn’t an easy book to write, but it was one I felt compelled to do. But then, my first paid writing job was as an obituary writer in Conway, Arkansas, so it’s fitting that my first book under my own name should be this one.
I’m donating all my royalties to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.