Monday, September 28, 2015

Interview with Rebecca L. Durkin, author of 'Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaska Misadventure'

Rebecca Durkin, author of Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure, and her short story, Behind the Smile, is known for her candor and sense of humor.

Rebecca is a featured speaker/creative trainer for an annual women’s retreat in California, where she shares her experiences and provides writing ideas. She is also a volunteer for the Survivors Teaching Students: Saving Women's Lives ® program for the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Rebecca spent the majority of her life living on the edge of the shore, first on Whidbey Island, Washington and then in rainy Ketchikan, Alaska where she lived a waterlogged existence for almost thirty years.  She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys road trips with her husband, hanging with her adult children, playing with her three Bichons—Scuppers, Scuttles, and Teeny Booty—and finding the humor in everyday life.
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About the Book:

Chemo on the Rocks is a shoreside seat on Rebecca (Becky) Durkin’s great Alaskan misadventure. It highlights the hilarity and heartache of a young girl who finds herself marooned in Ketchikan—fondly known as "The Rock"—where she remains on her self-imposed Alaskatraz for almost thirty years.

Chemo on the Rocks is witty, inspirational, satirical, and sometimes terrifying. It is a mix of pain and laughter as Becky walks the IV gauntlet, trailing behind the unfettered back end peeking through the drab hospital gown of the man shuffling before her.  Chemo on the Rocks is a hard-fought battle in the fallopian trenches where Becky wages war on ovarian cancer—the ultimate wedding crasher—as it invites an entire medical team into her honeymoon suite.  She slays the cancer dragon and has two children in defiance of the beast, but just when it seems life has returned to normalcy, she prematurely crashes onto Mount Hysteria and wanders aimlessly through the Hormone War Zone in the Land of the Ovary Snatchers.

Everything about having chemo on the rock was made more difficult by Becky’s fears of boating and flying—the only escape from the island—which became more terrifying with each trip to Seattle for surgery or testing. Chemo on the Rocks showcases the many parallels between sea adventures and cancer adventures, such as doldrums while awaiting diagnosis, the skull and cross bones of chemo, the bitter end of a failed marriage, tying the knot of another, listing dangerously, and perhaps a return to navigable waters.

For More Information

  • Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Thank you for this interview!  I’d like to know more about you as a person first.  What do you do when you’re not writing?

Thank you for the opportunity! I love to go on daytrips with my husband. I have a zippy little Mustang convertible perfect for exploring Washington State’s back roads. I grew up in Ketchikan, Alaska where the annual average precipitation is nearly 13 feet per year. Being able to drive with the top down is such a treat! I have three Poodle/Bichons, Scuppers, Scuttles, and Teeny Booty. They keep me busy and entertained with their antics. I also enjoy hanging out with my two adult kids, Jeffrey and MacKenzie.

When did you start writing?

I started writing about fifteen years ago. I had no writing aspirations, but writing found me. It was my solace when the aftermath of having a deadly cancer caught up with me. I had no idea how to write a book, so it was a long process.

As a published author, what would you say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?

A few things were pivotal. It’s hard to think of just one. First was when I realized that even though I never intended to be an author, writing is what I’m supposed to be doing. Of course, finding someone who believed in my story enough to publish my book was huge. Then, that moment—when after reading and editing until my brain and fingers hurt—I finally accepted my book was ready. I think the most pivotal point was when I knew how to write the ending.

If you could go anywhere in the world to start writing your next book, where would that be and why?

I would like to find a small cabin somewhere with a view of the mountains and some prancing goats and cows in the pasture. For some reason that peacefulness just takes me to a happy place. If I can’t find inspiration there, I’m not sure what I’ll do!

If you had 4 hours of extra time today, what would you do?

Well, Washington State has set records for high temperatures lately. After living in Alaska for almost thirty years, this extreme ninety-degree weather has been brutal for me. I’m thinking I’d hop in the car and head for the ocean to feel cool breezes in my hair.

Where would you like to set a story that you haven’t done yet?

It would be fun to set a story in a place I know nothing about. That way I would have the challenge of research to make sure I had all my facts straight. Maybe I’d just take a dart and throw it at a map and let the story begin where the dart lands. That being said, I do have many pages already written in my novel, Heaping Teaspoons of Sugar, which is set in Washington State.

Back to your present book, Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure, how did you publish it?

I sent queries out to multiple publishers and agents. My dear friend and writing mentor suggested I send a query to Christine F. Anderson Publishing & Media. That turned out to be an excellent suggestion.

In writing your book, did you travel anywhere for research?

Because my book is a memoir, my travels and adventures throughout my life all contributed to research. I did go back to Whidbey Island, Washington two years ago to make sure the places I remembered in my story were accurate. It was a great trip into my past.

Why was writing Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure so important to you?

Initially it was a healing tool. It was excellent therapy to write about my experiences. Through the writing I realized how much I love humor. The ability to laugh at oneself and the joy of being able to share that with others is golden.

I think it is important to provide hope to people who may be embarking on an arduous journey. If my story continues to generate laughter, inspire, and help raise awareness about ovarian cancer, then I have met my goal.

Where do you get your best ideas and why do you think that is?

I get my best ideas by observing people. They all become characters to me. The meanest, maddest, biggest and most boisterous are all fuel for a story. I think my ideas flow because I’m curious and inquisitive. Also, I like to write my thoughts about what’s happening when it’s happening. It is raw and fresh that way. A poem about what I see out my window, or perhaps when someone hurts my feelings, or better yet when something amazing happens. I love to put it all on paper.

Any final words?

Thank you for the opportunity to share a bit about myself and about Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure. I’m pleased that the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance allowed me to share an important brochure in the back of my book that tells about ovarian cancer symptoms. I donate a percentage of the proceeds of my book to them.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the interview!

    Rebecca Durkin
    Author, Chemo on the Rocks: My Great Alaskan Misadventure