New Author Showcase: Elizabeth Silva
Another Cheesy Family Newsletter is Elizabeth Silva's first book, a memoir of her family’s conflicts during the 20 years her oldest child struggled with addiction. She grew up as an only child in a military family, moved frequently, and finally settled in Texas at age 17. In 1970, she graduated from the University of North Texas with a BA in English, began her career teaching high school English and married soon after. While working as both a teacher and school counselor, she raised her three children and three grandchildren, writing only in personal journals and education publications – and of course her annual holiday newsletters. Upon retirement, after 39 years in education, she began writing seriously, occasionally submitting her writing for publication under her true name, Patty Sisco. She is a regular contributor to The Dallas Morning News. Elizabeth currently lives at home in Texas with her husband, her son, two grandsons, two cats, and a dog.
What does a writing success mean to you?
At first, when I started putting all my journals and personal memories together, I wrote only to please myself – to put down on paper the roller coaster of emotions I experienced as my daughter fell into the abyss of heroin addiction, while my husband and I became parents to her three children.But as the story developed, I realized I had a purpose – to help others whose loved ones are mired in addiction to understand they aren’t alone, and to share the mistakes I made that actually allowed my daughter to remain addicted and emotionally stunted.Success, to me, would mean that I have touched not only these people, but those who have never had these experiences – to open their eyes to the crisis our society is currently faced with. (And, of course, to be recognized as a writer, worthy of reading.)
Who or what influences your writing the most?
Reading, reading, reading. Family dynamics, partially because I was a counselor for 25 years.Because of my family’s struggles, I’m drawn to issues that have to do with addiction and mental illness.Having been an English major, of course I’ve been exposed to a variety of genres and writers, but I love intricate dysfunctional family stories like those written by Pat Conroy.The latest book I haven’t been able to get out of my mind is , by Tara Westover.
Do you have a system for writing?
I sit in my husband’s man cave, while he’s watching sports on TV, and write, write, write – opinion pieces for the Dallas Morning News, blog pieces, or rambling thoughts.I’m currently working on a children’s book, to be illustrated by my 24-year-old granddaughter.
If you could sit down with anyone (living, dead or fictional) and have a long conversation, who would it be?
It varies from time to time, but I would love to once more sit with my mother and have a long conversation about life – past, present, and future.She was the wisest, most giving person I’ve ever known.
Book Title: Another Cheesy Family Newsletter
For years, I have sent out, every holiday season, an uplifting and witty newsletter encapsulating the events of the previous year....births, deaths, marriages, new jobs, home projects, updates on family members, vacations....all with the implication that life was wonderful for the Silva family. What was left out was the bad stuff...the pain of addiction and mental illness, and the struggles of parents grieving for a daughter mired in drug addiction, while raising her three children as their own. This memoir covers two decades of "cheesy family newsletters," each followed by a narrative of the events intentionally left out each year, as well as the backstory: people and experiences of the past that influenced my own emotional health.
Other author links:
Final thought: Any additional information you want readers to know about you or advice you'd give to an aspiring writer?
Do it and do it now! I never took my writing seriously until I was in my 60’s. I was busy working and raising a family and didn’t make my writing a priority, so it just didn’t get done. The more you write, the better you’ll get, so don’t put it off.