Sally Alter : Thank you so much for inviting me for an interview, Amelia. I am honored to be here.
COULD YOU TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF?
Well, thank you for asking me that question. Let’s see. I am a 75 year old widow who started writing books last year. To date I have published 4 books and am busy writing the next one. I was born in London and lost my parents at a very young age so have been very independent ever since.
I had not received any encouragement to better myself when young so I never thought I would amount to anything. I received a very poor education and always thought I was stupid. This was a theme in my life until I was in my twenties when I decided to train as a nurse. I lived in Scotland at the time, so began my nursing career at 28. I loved nursing and worked in Scotland and England for many years.
That decision has been very helpful lately in writing my books. I have bipolar 1 disorder which started when I was 15 when I had just lost my mother. It can be brought on by unbalanced chemicals in the brain, hereditary or trauma in childhood which fitted my situation.
My life with my unwanted guest has been very traumatic on the one hand, yet very exciting on the other. I have been married three times to all the wrong people but have had the opportunity of traveling very extensively and living in some unusual places like Malta, the tiny island in the Mediterranean. So it has not been all bad.
Now, since being widowed, my life is very simple and I am fortunate to have all the time I like to write my books which is what I want to do.
WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS FOR YOUR BOOKS?
I began writing on Quora, the question and answer website, three years ago now and have since written over 4,000 answers. 800 of those answers have been on bipolar disorder as that is what interests me most. I have done a great deal of research and have a lifetime’s worth of experience.
So, with this background it is very easy for me to get ideas for my books. In fact, my first book, “How to Live with Bipolar” is a question and answer book filled with answers to some of the questions I answered on Quora. It has been very successful and people seem to like reading questions and answers. I go into great detail about bipolar in my books. I also write anecdotes about poignant areas of my life. I have another question and answer book on loneliness which is called, “A Practical Guide to Overcoming Loneliness.”
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PROCESS LIKE?
Being retired, I can write when and how much I like so I am very fortunate in that. I know some people have to fit writing in between a full time job and it is very difficult to complete a book like that. In my case, I spend time on my Outline first as this is the skeleton of my books. It is then easy for me to fill in the meat between chapters.
Perhaps I shouldn’t say easy as it takes a lot of research, time and perseverance to finish a book. I write non-fiction which has to be factually correct. I have played around with fiction, but don’t seem to have the imagination for it.
DO YOU TRY TO BE ORIGINAL OR GIVE YOUR READERS WHAT THEY WANT?
It is a well-known fact in writing books that you must never write just for yourself or nobody will want to read it. You have to consciously write what you think your readers want to read or you will get nowhere. In fact, it is no good writing for a group of people as that is rarely successful either, you have to find your ideal reader and write to them specifically. This process takes a lot of work but is foolproof because it guides you as to what to write next. You ask yourself what your ideal reader would like to know next, then write about that.
My ideal reader varies, of course, from book to book, but they are nearly always a person who wants to know how to cope with their problem. In this case, the problem is bipolar disorder or loneliness. I also have a book of poetry which is called, “We Never Did Mornings” and my ideal reader there is a person who has loved and lost in life.
HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE YOUR BOOK?
I don’t like working on a book for too long because I would lose momentum and not be able to focus on my subject, so I almost always finish a book within three to four months. As I say, I am retired, so it is not a case of spending an hour a day on writing, I can write for five hours a day if I wish.
WHAT CAN READERS TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS?
According to my reviews, I am pleased to read that I have managed to help people cope with the circumstances they find themselves in. One of my books, “Bipolar 1 Disorder Rescue Plan” is very specific and not much information is out there on the subject. So, people are happy reading that book and find better ways of coping with their illness.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE WHO ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR BOOKS BUY THEM?
All my books are available on Amazon. If you type my name in the search bar, a list of all my books will come up so it is easy to look at them in more detail.
ARE YOU WORKING ON ANYTHING AT THE PRESENT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH YOUR READERS ABOUT?
Yes, I am working on another book and I see the rest of my life being filled with writing more and more books because I feel I have found my calling. At present, I am writing another bipolar disorder book. It is called, “The Symptoms of Bipolar Depression.” As far as I know this subject has never been tackled by anybody before, but it is a big problem for people with bipolar depression. I am hoping it will be helpful to a lot of people.
Amelia, thank you so much for listening to me. I have really enjoyed our interview.
Sally Alter’s Media