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Watch the Novel Transcript Reading of TO FLY AGAIN:
Poetry Read by actress Maya Woloszyn
Get to know writer Rachelle Hasnas:
1. What is your novel about?
My book is a memoir but so much more. To Fly Again- Portrait of a BIPOLAR Life is the story of my son’s struggle with this mental disorder but also features a substantive section providing educational material on bipolar disorder from the National Institute of Mental Health. The inclusion of Joshua’s poetry appearing throughout the pages of this, his story offers the reader a deeper understanding into the profound anguish he experienced with this oftentimes crippling disease. This work shares my tumultuous journey with my son through many years of pain and struggle, and finally my process of dealing with his death. Both my voice as a mother and my voice as a therapist are interwoven in its telling. Yet this book rises above the tragedy inherent in its story to share some remarkable experiences that point to the ultimate triumph of Spirit.
(Note: Only the first chapter of FLY was entered in Wildsound’s contest. Since then the book has been completed.)
2. Why should this novel be read by people?
To gain a deeper understanding of this possibly life-threatening mental condition and the treatment available. To develop more compassion towards those and their loved ones who struggle with bipolar disorder and end stigmatization. To learn how to better cope with this illness, as Joshua’s story is a cautionary tale, one that hopefully can prevent the outcome that he experienced. And to bring hope to those with bipolar disorder that it can be treated.
3. How long have you been writing stories?
It seems I’ve been writing since my teen years, when I learned how to “journal”. From that time writing has become a way for me to touch my thoughts as I put them into form. Over the years I’ve written many poems, mostly of a spiritual nature, as a way of processing my connection to the Universe. As I matured and was exposed to many interesting subjects, I had the opportunity to write several articles in specialty magazines. However it wasn’t until 1997 that my first book was published. A second book followed in 1999. Both about the Bach Flower Essences. In 2001 I wrote a children’s book, thus far unpublished. And now I’ve just published my third book, To Fly Again.
4. What movie have you seen the most in your life?
I don’t usually watch movies many times over. However I do have several favorites that come to mind, and have watched these more than once: The Matrix, The Titanic, What Dreams May Come, Groundhog Day, Avatar and have really enjoyed The Hunger Games series. Am really looking forward to the last “installment” coming out in November! (I can’t honestly say if it’s because of the lead actor, Jennifer Lawrence, that I enjoy these movies so much! (Hope she can keep her authenticity and not get caught up in her celebrity.)
5. Do you think this novel could be adapted into a movie?
It’s strange that you ask me this question. After completing my manuscript I could see in my mind’s eye it being made into a movie—especially due to the amazing appearance (actually twice, and with such impeccable timing) of a seagull, first during Joshua’s cremation ceremony, and then again when I and family members scattered his ashes into the ocean. Both experiences were what I consider to be “spiritual experiences”. I felt that my son was contacting me through the symbol of the seagull…and was “flying again.” I thought, perhaps what I experienced the audience might also experience, and give them hope of life continuing on after death of the body. Logistics-wise, however, as I am not a script writer, nor producer, I have no idea whether what I wrote can be translated into a movie. Yet, it seems most anything is possible! FLY becoming a movie was a “way out there” idea and I wondered where it came from! Yet I didn’t dwell on this possibility. I noticed the thought and smiled to myself as I let it go!
6. How many stories have you written?
I wrote one soon after my divorce. It was my first “story”. It was about my life up to that point. I was looking for answers as to why my life crashed and burned. The process of writing about my life experiences helped me to move through and heal from this particularly heavy life-transition. This story was not for publication, although initially it was a thought. As I’ve previously noted, there were several magazine articles that were published, many poems written over the years (a process for personal growth) and then my first and second book. These books were not actual “stories” but information about and how to use Bach Flower Essences (Alternative Healing). I was well versed in Dr. Edward Bach’s “remedies”, and with my experience and knowledge of them was asked to write these books. It was a great honor for me to do this. Oh, almost forgot about my “children’s book”. Wrote that in 2001. Attempted to find a publisher for a while, but eventually put this aside. Perhaps one day I’ll give it another go. I love to write. Writing takes me to another “zone” where time and space seems to disappear. I enter into some type of flow which words cannot describe. I wish I had more time to write and only write!
7. What motivated you to write this novel?
This book is for my son Joshua. He is at the heart of it. I was a witness to his long-suffering life experience and now am reporting his journey (our journey). I believe his story can be a “cautionary tale” to others who also cope with bipolar disorder. Thus it is my intention to be an advocate/ voice for bipolar disorder by expanding awareness, both for individuals diagnosed with this disorder and in the general population—for those who don’t know much about, nor yet understand the serious repercussions of this disease. It is also my intention that FLY can educate those with bipolar disorder to further their understanding, and to offer them hope that this condition can be treated with success.
8. Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?
In a way I do and in a way I don’t! When I wrote my first story (about my life after my divorce) I found the need to get a sense of how to organize my story- write an outline of sorts, possible chapter headings. And then I went from there. This was a great help in getting started. One of my strengths is being an organized person- I like to have my “ducks in row” whenever possible (I’m not good with chaos!) It seems (for me) that this trait has been helpful in my writing. I also need uninterrupted time to write. I’m not good at grabbing an hour or two here and there. I like to be able to sit for hours and not worry about time. I’ve been lucky that the opportunity has been provided for me to do just that while I’ve been working on manuscripts for publication. Much of what I’ve written has been about what I know (Bach Flower Essences) and/ or personal experience (FLY). Thus most of the time, I find it just flows from within to my finger tips on the keys of my PC. Of course, there are times when I get “stuck” and have to take a break.
9. Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
My most important “passion” is growing spiritually- gaining more awareness about “What’s it all about Alfie?” I’ve been a student of esoteric and metaphysical literature since my college years. Have studied meditation, yoga, and astrology. The beach is a haven for me. Enjoy interior design, landscaping and gardening. And most especially, helping others to heal on the inside (emotional, mental healing), which is why I became a licensed clinical social worker.
10. What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival? What was your
feelings on the initial feedback your received?
While working on my manuscript, my publisher (Dianne Helm, Helm Book Publishing) suggested we enter your Festival. I was excited and pleased with Wildsound’s initial feedback to me. I found it wonderfully encouraging.
11. Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Write down your story in its raw form—just write, let it flow. Don’t concern yourself with grammar, spelling, etc. as you put form to your idea. The technicalities will come later. Once you’ve gotten it all out, that is the time to make corrections, edit, and rework until you are satisfied with the finished product. At that point it would be helpful to work with an editor—to have another set of eyes review your manuscript to catch any discrepancies or errors that you may have missed, as well as possible suggestions re: additions to your work.
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