Friday, November 28, 2014

Interview with Timothy Spillane, author of Four Before Their Time

November is "National Prematurity Awareness Month" (Nov. 17 is "World Prematurity Day").There are nearly a half million babies born prematurely in this country every year. 

Title: Four Before Their Time
Author: Timothy Spillane
Publisher: Skitterbird, LLC
Pages: 342
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Anne had it all. She was a physician, an Army officer, and a great wife. She'd be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short-lived after an ultrasound reveals that Anne isn't just pregnant, she's really pregnant - with quadruplets! Now her dad, Tim Spillane, is a grandfather four times over, and much too soon. Just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Anne delivered, and not one of Tim's grandkids weighs more than half a mug of coffee. So underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, the odds of just one of them surviving - let alone all four - are heartbreakingly low. And even if the children pull through, they face the likelihood of disabilities so severe that they'd have no real quality of life. It all seems hopeless until Tim's wife observes that just seeing the quads is like "being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother's womb." Four Before Their Time is the true story of four babies surviving on a razor's edge, one mom's overwhelming and guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and an entire family's experiences with extreme premature birth. It will take all the faith, hope, and resilience the Spillane family can muster - along with more than a few miracles - just to get the quadruplets home.

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  • Four Before Their Time is available at Amazon.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I’m most proud of being a good husband and dad. Although I’m only starting now as a grandfather, I think I’m going to be okay as a “Papa”, too. Family is the most important thing.
How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
I was fortunate to have loving and supportive parents. A strong family is the best foundation for a successful life. My father encouraged us to believe in ourselves.  My mom insisted that we value education. She wouldn’t abide poor grammar. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I liked drawing more than writing when I was young. My dad encouraged me to put my drawings into stories. My mom made sure that I knew the importance of being able to write well. Funny thing is that though I could write well from an early age I never really felt I had a story to tell until my grandchildren were born.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I always believed there was something innately powerful – almost spiritual – about writing. It took me a long time, however, to understand how important the act of storytelling really is.
When did you first know you could be a writer? 
It was a breeze to get an “A” in English Composition, quite the opposite in Algebra. I was never going to cut it as an engineer.
What inspires you to write and why?
Being able to effectively communicate our thoughts through the written word is one of the most important things people can do. I like the challenge in that.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I could always write academic papers. Writing a memoir is something altogether different. You have to comfortable in your own skin to do it. I’m just learning that now.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Four Before Their Time is my first – and only – book. The story it tells is of a remarkable journey of survival and love through incredible circumstances. It’s a story I felt had to be told.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
I kept returning to what my daughter Anne had experienced. She suffered so much when her pregnancy collapsed after only six months. Her four babies were left with little hope for survival. But they did and Anne is the now most amazing mother. I wrote the story for her.
What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Sticking to the story. I get so carried away with the craft of writing, or writing about what I want to say, that it’s easy to lose sight of the story. Nothing matters more than the story you have to tell. Everything else just gets in the way. It’s always necessary to keep that in mind.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Believe in the value of your story. If it doesn’t have the power to impact other people, why write it at all?
Do you intend to make writing a career?
I’d like to, but that is still a goal that seems out of reach for me at this time.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
I don’t know. It’s so hard to view your work objectively. I guess I’d want people to say that my writing is honest.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
Being able to finish. So many writers keep pushing the finish line further and further away.
What is your favorite quality about yourself?
The most important human quality is compassion. I want to be compassionate. I’d like to be humble, too.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
Selfishness. Sometimes I see the world as revolving around me. Thank goodness it doesn’t.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
In the Book of Proverbs it says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3: 5, 6)

That’s a compass for me. 

Tim and his wife live in Chester County, PA and are the parents of three daughters. They became grandparents when their daughter, Anne delivered quadruplets in April, 2010. A graduate of Colorado College (1979) with a degree in English Literature, Tim returned to school to earn his Masters of Public Health from Drexel University in 2005. He has worked in residential construction for more than three decades but is now focusing full-time on his writing. He currently serves on the executive board of Graham's Foundation, an organization for parents and families going through the journey of prematurity. 

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