Sheryl Letzgus McGinnis – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

“The Addiction Monster and the Square Cat.” This is my first children’s book. It’s aimed at young children from age 10 and up. It tells them how drugs are bad for them and even worse, that drugs can lead to addiction. It is a fictionalized account of my own son’s 14 year struggle with drugs, as told by the family cat, Pumpkin.

It tells about other young kids who had great ambition, all good kids, whose dreams were cut short when they succumbed to The Addiction Monster.

Tell us something about yourself.

Originally from Australia have spent most of my life in the US, growing up in NJ and now living on the Space Coast of Florida.

I’ve been writing practically all my life but got serious about it when my son, who was a Paramedic and an RN, lost his life to a drug overdose. In 2006 my first book was published, “I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction)” followed by the sequel, “Slaying The Addiction Monster (An All-Inclusive Look At Drug Addiction In America Today,” and then I wrote “The Addiction Monster and the Square Cat.” This book has consistently been on Amazon.com’s Best Sellers List in Substance Abuse, occupying the #1 spot on that list off and on.

I spent my working years as a Medical Transcriptionist and also was a radio DJ for several years, had my own show, did commercials, etc. I also did voiceovers for a local TV station.

What inspired you to write this book?

After watching my son struggle with addiction, trying to beat it and experiencing the heartbreak of seeing a once proud, brilliant son get caught up in addiction, and the anguish and depression that we, his parents, suffered, I wanted to write a book to let others know that they’re not alone in this huge battle – the battle to save a life.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I self-published because I didn’t want to take the time to wait to see if a traditional publisher would be interested. I was in a rush to get this book out there so that I could, perhaps, help others.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

When I was 12, I wrote a take-off of Little Red Riding Hood at a summer youth camp and it was received very warmly. I was hooked then.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Getting started! Once you put those first few words down though it all seems to come together. Also it’s hard not to correct your writing when you start. You have to learn to just let the words flow and worry about the grammar, spelling and storyline later.

How do you do research for your books?

Two ways. The first of course is experience. I lived what I write about, i.e. my own son’s struggle and how it affected all of us. Secondly I contacted noted addiction researchers, interviewed them and included their findings on my second book, “Slaying the Addiction Monster.” I read articles from newspapers on how drugs are affecting their communities and I interviewed the authors of these articles, from the publishers to journalists.

I’m also a member of the Parents Advisory Board of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America where I get a lot of information.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I learned that authors are optimists from this quote by Margaret Atwood: “Anybody who writes a book is an optimist. First of all, they think they’re going to finish it. Second, they think somebody’s going to publish it. Third, they think somebody’s going to read it. Fourth, they think somebody’s going to like it.” I also learned how difficult it is to get publicity.

What are you reading now?

I just finished “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte’. She’s an incredible writer with such a poetic way of writing. I’m in awe of her writing. Am getting ready to start on “Shutter Island,” just to see what all the buzz is about.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

Well naturally I read a lot about addiction. My favorite books are romance books. My favorite book is “Forever Amber” by Kathleen Windsor. My favorite authors are Nelson DeMille and Ann Rule. Their books hold my attention right from the beginning. DeMille is a fiction writer and Rule writes true crime novels, but she’s never gory.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Right now I’m working on illustrations for my next booklet. It’s called “Say Yes to Life and No to Drugs.” Aimed at the younger kids, something for them to keep and refer to when others try to talk them into doing drugs.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

This is not original, but my advice is to write, write, write! Don’t be intimidated by writing or the writing process. If you’re writing fiction the opportunites are endless. If you’re writing nonfiction, write from the heart. As far as publishing I would try to interest a big publishing house right away but in the meantime I’d be working on self-publishing because the ugly truth is that today, the big houses are not interested in spending their money on unknowns. Money is tight all over and this includes the big publishers. John Grisham self-pubbed his first novel, so there should be no stigma on self-publishing. There is, of course, but I think this is diminishing somewhat.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Well, I’m here on this site doing this interview and I thank you for allowing me this opportunity. I do radio interviews, internet interviews, TV interviews. I comment on sites that talk about addiction and always include my website and name. I’m always looking for places to talk about my books.

I made up stickers and return address stickers to put on envelopes, I give my business card to anyone willing to take it. In short, I’m always promoting anywhere I can.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Well my website of course, which is www.theaddictionmonster.com. There they can read a little about me and about my books and other information. They can also search for the book on Amazon and also Barnes and Noble website and Booklocker.

Comments

  1. Maxine Hitchcock says

    This is one of the most interesting and honest interviews I have ever read. I do not know how she writes books on addiction- I suppose she does it for her son, Scott, in hopes of getting through to someone. My son died exactly three months before Sheryl’s son and I really could not write about it (even if I had the ability to write- which I do not). I admire Sheryl – it has to be painful for her too.

  2. says

    Thank you so much Maxine. I wrote my books for Scott and all the other people struggling with addiction and I also wrote them for the parents who are left behind to grieve such as yourself.
    Thanks for your kind comments.

  3. Ginger Hammachi says

    Very good works…I Am Your Disease (The Many Faces of Addiction) and Slaying The Addiction Monster. I too admire you for channeling your grief in a positive way that involves helping others. Keep up the good work, Sheryl…I know it’s always difficult when it’s so personal, but know that you are strongly supported by many.