What inspired you to write your memoir?
Even before my son Paul died, I started writing about him and his bipolar disorder. I kept a journal to get out the frustrations of dealing with his episodes and hospitalizations and erratic behavior. Then after his death by suicide as a result of his illness I wrote to ease my pain and record my memories about my son. When I finally I had enough journal entries, pieces from my writing classes and workshops, and poetry, I began to form a memoir about my family’s experience.
I felt, if my memoir inspires just one family in the same situation to survive, it would be a success.
About your Book:
Leaving the Hall Light On charts the almost-destruction of one middle-class family whose son committed suicide after a seven-year struggle with bipolar disorder.
Madeline Sharples, author, poet and web journalist, goes deep into her own well of grief to describe her anger, frustration and guilt. She describes many attempts – some successful, some not – to have her son committed to hospital and to keep him on his medication. The book also charts her and her family’s redemption, how she considered suicide herself, and ultimately, her decision to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother and writer.
The author’s book shares several aspects of her son’s illness and how she and her husband, and their other son, Ben, survived Paul’s suicide, as it:
• Describes the frustration, anger, and guilt of trying to care for an adult child with mental illness
• Gives mothers and fathers who have experienced a child’s death ways to get out of the deep dark hole they are in
• Tells people the realities of mental illness
• Describes the steps Sharples took in living with this loss; the first and foremost that she chose to live and go on with life and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, writer
• Shows readers that grief is love in action. To let ourselves grieve is to feel the depth of our love for as long as it takes. For those of us whose children have died, that may take the rest of our lives, but we will discover the gifts of our loss in the process.
Madeline Sharples studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper, but only started to fulfill her dream to work as a creative writer and journalist late in life. Her memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was released in a hardback edition in 2011 and has just been released in paperback and eBook editions by Dream of Things. It tells the steps she took in living with the loss of her oldest son, first and foremost that she chose to live and take care of herself as a woman, wife, mother, and writer. She hopes that her story will inspire others to find ways to survive their own tragic experiences.
She also co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1 and 2, and wrote the poems for two photography books, The Emerging Goddess and Intimacy (Paul Blieden, photographer). Her poems have also appeared online and in print magazines.
Madeline’s articles appear regularly in the Naturally Savvy, PsychAlive, and Open to Hope. She also posts at her blogs, Choices and at Red Room and is currently writing a novel. Madeline’s mission since the death of her son is to raise awareness, educate, and erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide in hopes of saving lives.
Madeline and her husband of forty plus years live in Manhattan Beach, California, a small beach community south of Los Angeles. Her younger son Ben lives in Santa Monica, California with his wife Marissa.
How did you decide how to publish your book and where is it published through:
My writing instructor encouraged me to get my story out to the public.
Originally Leaving the Hall Light On was published by Lucky Press LLC (May 2011) in a hardback edition. However, after Lucky Press went out of business in April 2012, I contracted with publisher Dream of Things (Downers Grove IL) publish the paperback and eBook editions. The paperback was released last month; the Kindle edition was released this week.
I had a wonderful mentor who worked with me throughout my query process who always encouraged me to obtain a “proper” publisher. And I am so glad I did. Lucky Press got my story out, and now the owner of Dream of Things has done things to and for my book that I could never have accomplished for myself: editing/proofreading, marketing ideas, posting details at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Plus he is arranging readings and radio shows for me during an upcoming trip to Chicago in September.