Unhackable Soul: An Interview with Maureen Sharphouse

After my audiobook review of Maureen Sharphouse’s novel Unhackable Soul, I am so excited to post my author interview with her.

Thanks for the interview, Maureen!

1) Unhackable Soul gripped me from the start until the end. I thought it had great pacing. How did you decide on the pace of the book, and do you have advice for me on pacing in a book?

I wanted Unhackable Soul to be easy to read, have a sense of flow, and not overwhelm a reader. I know how difficult it can be when living with a disability and pain to read or concentrate for any length of time. And so, I consciously kept the text concise and uncomplicated- each sentence leading into the next split the journey I take the reader on into 30 ‘days’ – with each of the 30 ‘days’ having a natural rise and flow, be an entity in itself – and yet smoothly transitioning into the next … It was a mixture of keeping the pace flowing from start to finish (with sentences looking back as well as forwards) , for a reader who wanted to keep reading. But each ‘day’ with the ability to stand alone so that the reader can go back and dip in and out or read a doable chunk at a time.

2) I loved how there were quotes throughout the book. I have a memoir and would like to include quotes here and there. Do you have tips on selecting the best quotes and where to put them?

When it comes to quotes, trust your intuition and use the ones that feel best fit to you and resonate with you, and either lead in with them (ie put them at the start of your chapter or section) – or use them at the end of a chapter or section to tie together/sum up the theme of what you have been sharing in the preceding text. I tend to do a google search for quotes related to the specific theme of any piece of writing I am working on- read them out loud – and see which resonate with me/speak to me at an intuitive level/FEEL the best fit – and work them in from there…

I also occasionally use quotes within the body of writing pieces if they give a valuable perspective on what I am about to share. “Echoing the words of…” I have found a good way to lead into the person’s name the quote is attributed to and then into the quote itself.

3) What was the hardest thing to write about?

Sharing some of my own personal journal extracts in my book was probably the hardest. It takes courage to share your own private thoughts, emotional state, weaknesses, and vulnerability, especially when you know your family and loved ones are likely to read what you have written once your book is published. There is, however, real power in sharing your own vulnerability and letting your reader into the authentic ‘you’. It can connect you with your reader at a deep level and ‘speak’ to them directly.

4) What was your favourite part of the book?

To pick one part of my book as being my favourite is quite difficult – so many stand out for me. However, if I have to pick one, the parting story ‘Light the Dark’ which I share with the reader at the very end of my book is about a truly magical evening I had with some of my grandchildren looking into the black sky at the stars- and always reminds me how precious life is, and makes me smile.

5) I found the audiobook relaxing to listen to and liked that you narrated it. This made it even more powerful than it is already. As a person with multiple severe disabilities, I identified with lots of things although my diagnoses are different to yours. I think you portray your life with courage and grace.

Thank you.

I like how you intertwined everything in your memoir and how I still felt I got an understanding of your conditions.

6) Do you have any tips for me on combining information about my life and disabilities in such a way that it’s as interesting as your memoir was for me?

Best tip would be to remember that whilst you want to share your story, the book is not all about you- but about what your reader takes away from reading your story. Think about the purpose behind your book, and what you would want your reader to take away from reading it that will stay with them… Speak directly to your reader, connect with them and transport them into your world, so that they experience an internal shift of some kind in their own life because of what you have shared. What is the message you want to give them? Stay connected with that….

7) Do you have ideas for another book?

I have several books cooking in me at present- including a follow-up to Unhackable Soul, and some children’s books – and am finding myself jotting down chunks of writing that naturally flow through me and land onto the page. I am sure in time by trusting the creative process they will find their perfect place! I write better when I think less and feel more. So at present I am in creative cooking mode and trusting the process!

8) Any tips on coping with the “bad” days where pain is concerned?

I share a lot of pain management techniques in my book that can help when the going gets rough, and also on my website at http://www.maureensharphouse.com, including breathing exercises, visualisations and meditations. Fighting and battling against a ‘bad’ day and pain flare will only bring more feelings of fighting and battling and keep fueling the pain flare. It’s important to remind yourself the moment you are in will pass, as do all moments, whether good or bad, and consciously putting loving arms around yourself, treating yourself with kindness and compassion, and doing all you can to craft calm within the storm. Remind yourself you got through the last moment, and so you can and will get through this one and the next one. Focusing on your pain will only bring more thoughts and feelings of pain- and so, consciously breathe into your pain, acknowledge its presence, and then do all you can to consciously nourish your soul and spirit and steer your mind elsewhere. On the ‘bad’ days, do all you can to craft calm within your storm and hold yourself in arms of love and grace.

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