What is your book’s genre or category and what draws you to the genre as a writer?
I’ve always written non-fiction trade books and manuals, yet always had a desire to write something a little less dry. Romance has always been a favorite genre of mine. But I always wished romance novels were a little more real. The formula has always been boy chases girl, boy gets girl, and they usually live happily ever after. That rarely happens, and I feel it sets women up with unrealistic expectations. With my stories, I throw in a few real-world twists, yet keeping a more realistic happiness. I’m hoping the entire category follows.
Can you describe the story in one or two sentences for our readers?
Dr. Olivia Garvin “died” on the morning of her 42nd birthday, finding her sleazy husband being led away in handcuffs in front of the entire neighborhood. Emotionally lifeless and in need of some R & R, Olivia escapes to Oahu where the charismatic and wise beyond his years Kalani awaits as a result of a chance meeting.
Tell us the story behind the story. What influenced you to write it and how long did it take you?
I have experienced my own share of heartbreaks, as three of my own marriages went down in flames. This story borrows slight bits from each of those experiences, as well as a few life twists I had seen firsthand, and a few others I had only dreamed about. I wrote it on the benches and beaches of Oahu over about a week. Falling Forward was the fastest novel I ever wrote.
Olivia needed to finally awaken her soul. She had been quite successful and emotionally fulfilled as an oncologist. But Olivia finally realized she had been on autopilot her whole life, ignoring her instincts and ultimately her own happiness. Her new friend inspires Olivia to perform the ultimate exercise of faith – to write her own obituary on a bar napkin. In her darkest moment, Olivia has a choice we all face at one time or another — give up or battle back. Olivia chooses the latter.
Is there a part of you in any of the characters?
LOL absolutely! I think every author, whether they realize it or not, includes at least a snippet of his or her life in every fiction story. My first marriage, when I was very young, was a catastrophic disaster. I poured my entire heart into that one. I’m still shattered from that pain. Writing has been incredibly therapeutic.
What is the message in your books that you want your readers to grasp?
It’s important to realize that success isn’t necessarily financial, peer-reviewed, or career-oriented. You need to find what makes you tick, and what truly makes you happy, and then pursue that happiness with everything you’ve got. Some will find it, some won’t. But we all need to try.
I get this question a lot, and the answer is strange and curious. I can’t read. I mean, I am not illiterate, but I suffer from a mild form of dyslexia, a touch of attention deficit disorder, and one physician told me I may be mildly autistic! I can’t physically sit in one place and glue myself to words on a page without getting a headache. Obviously, that didn’t go well in school. I hate to admit it, but I can tolerate motion pictures more easily. I know those stories are modified or abridged, but luckily I have some great friends who have filled me in on the changes or missing parts. When I drive to visit friends or family, I’ll listen to audiobooks in the car. Love Elizabeth Gilbert’s work. Nora Roberts is another wonderful author.
What is your current writing project and when will it be released?
I’ve got many buns in the oven! Most are more than half done, but I am not quite sure which to butter first. My favorite is a science-fiction story about a college student who meets her future husband in the past, but she has to wait for him to become an adult to change his future. What’s weird is it already happened, so there’s a tricky paradox. The science is amazing. With a few engineering friends, I am trying to stay as close to realistic scientific possibilities as possible.
Great question! Getting paid to imagine things and share ideas with the world. Hopefully, I can help someone else make their life fuller or happy.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Actually, it was decided for me. I wrote a series of technical documents for one of my old jobs, which led to some how-to manuals, and eventually my first published book. I suppose you can say I fell into writing.
How do you find the time to write?
Some people have a very active social life! I suppose my social life is more introverted, not that I am an introvert at all. Most of my circle is quite busy with work or parenthood at this age, so that frees up a lot of my time. And now that my children are in their later teens, they’re not as needy, and that’s a tremendous time saver. I write during my lunch break, at nights, and most of the weekends.
How can readers find you online?
My website needs a lot of help, but it’s at www.livblack.com.
I’m on Twitter too at https://twitter.com/RealOliviaBlack
Excerpt from Falling Forward
I died on my 42nd birthday. I can tell you from my own personal experience that it doesn’t get any more final than reading your own obituary. Most unimportant people like me don’t have any influence over what theirs will say. I had always thought obituaries should be written for the living. After all, as far as I know, a dead person can’t read. I also thought it slightly pompous that some of my patients thought they were important enough to craft their own obituaries well before their impending demise. But I was wrong. Thanks to some good advice from a very special friend, I was fortunate enough to have the wherewithal and the opportunity to write my own.
I reached under my bed and found a beautifully handcrafted Koa box. I sat staring at it, admiring the craftsmanship as memories filled my mind and a rare tear ran down my cheek. I opened it and pulled out a wrinkled and water-stained cocktail napkin. On it was the obituary I had written for myself so long ago. I could barely decipher what it said from the now smeared and faded ink, but the words will forever be etched in my mind:
Award-winning oncologist Dr. Olivia Marie Garvin died of unnatural causes on her 42nd birthday. Dr. Garvin ran into a wall at full speed. She never saw it coming. She saved hundreds of lives, but she could not save herself. She is survived by no one and nothing. There will be no funeral, no prayers, and no service. Her request is to be completely forgotten.