I've spent my entire professional career as a writer—from advertising campaigns to hundreds of published articles for newspapers, magazines, and journals. But it wasn't until I left agency work five years ago that I tried my hand at creative writing. Three novels and two stage plays later, I'm excited to announce the publication of my first novel, Stage Seven, by DartFrog Books.
Stage Seven was selected as November 2021 Book of the Month by BookClubz.com, an online platform that provides reading recommendations, discussion guides, and organizational tools to nearly 40,000 reading groups all over the world. I've also been invited to join AlzAuthors, a worthy group of authors and advocates who publish works of both non-fiction and fiction on memory care topics. Stage Seven goes “live” on this site in mid-February.
My mother, Muriel Port Stevens, well-known in Providence as longtime manager of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, suffered from Alzheimer's for the last five years of her life. During that time, I often found myself trading war stories and sharing sympathetic reflections with others whose family members were similarly afflicted.
While this was occurring, a friend told me the story of her sister-in-law, a divorced woman who fell in love with an older man she met at a memory care facility where they were both tending to family members. I didn't know this couple, but I thought the way their romance blossomed was the stuff of drama and conflict.
These two separate elements—my mother's struggles with dementia and the poignant love story—combined in my head to form the narrative that became Stage Seven. I originally wrote it as a theatrical play that was performed in 2018. The enthusiastic response from audiences inspired me to cast a wider net by expanding the story into a novel.
I was determined that Stage Seven: A Novel should not be a relentless downer. A believer in the power of laughter to ease our pain and anxiety, I like to incorporate humor in my writing, no matter how serious the topic—while still taking care to respect the subject matter.
My greatest wish is that Stage Seven will provide an enjoyable reading experience while helping readers navigate the daunting challenges of caring for a family member with dementia, as the characters in the book had to do. I also wish that my readers will come away from this story believing there might be hope and solace at the end of the difficult journey.