Q & A with the Author

How did your background lead you to write This Fantastic Struggle?

Ten years ago, I took a leap of faith and quit my 9-to-5 job as a Vocational Counselor at a mental health agency, where I developed work leads for clients with manic depression, personality disorders and schizophrenia. I decided it was time to try to make a go of it with my art. I had become fascinated at the time with the story of artist Esther Phillips, as I researched into her life on my down time, and realized I wanted to pursue the writing of a book.

I embarked on not only that project but began to fully pursue my other creative interests–writing original works for cross-disciplinary performance work, creating a body of musical works to stand on their own for solo performance, teaching children improvisation, doing studio work both commercial and for local bands, accompanying dance, and producing and directing conceptual performance pieces.

Though I actually did a variety of things post-college, and before my mental health agency job (GED teacher, career counselor, research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh., library positions), none have been as unusual or interesting as the quest to make a living as a working creative artist. Or as fulfilling.

What are some of your professional & personal interests?

Collaborating with artists of various genres, developing a sense of creative exploration in children (so they see that they can find their own path creatively), touting the call to adults to awaken to “authentic sense of self” in this life, advocating for mental health concerns which I believe touch us all at some point in our lives, and proving that artists are workers and a viable part of this society. Personal interests include playing in underground bands, and fascination with old houses like my own sitting atop a hill since 1891 and providing a view of the bustling cityscape & three rivers, with lovely backyard terraced sanctuary.

Anything unusual in the research & writing of your book?

In the finding of content matter, nothing was ordinary! Everything an intriguing exploration, a real find, which I could talk much more about. . . One technical point to mention, though, is that the first computer draft of my manuscript was on an Apple II (this was already 1995!) My generous younger brother did my next two computer upgrades for me from company hand-me-downs—first an Apple Performa and then a Power Mac. Along the way, I actually (barely) learned Netscape Composer and later no longer needed to go into the Carnegie Library to get on the internet.