The Family Caregiver’s Guide – An Interview with Harriet Hodgson

Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing with about my book The Family Caregiver's Guide. You can view the original blog post over at BooksGoSocial.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself!

I love to cook and decorate. In fact, I read cookbooks the way some people read novels. My interest in decorating may have come about because my husband and I have moved 17 times. A graduate degree in art education also influences my love of decorating and interest in art museums.

What kind of books do you write?

All of my books fall in the self-help category. As much as I appreciate fiction, especially mysteries, I’m a realist at heart, and write non-fiction.

What inspired you to write?

I’ve had many unusual and painful experiences in life, such as the death of my elder daughter. In times of stress I turn to writing. When I research a book I’m helping myself and others at the same time. I believe my greatest talent as a writer is to distill information and present it in an organized, simple way.

What makes your writing stand out from the crowd?

My books connect the dots between research and real life. Readers don’t remember numbers, but they remember stories, which is why I weave real-life stories into research findings. Right now my work focuses on family caregiving, an idea that came from my life. I’ve cared for three generations of family members, my mother (nine years), my orphaned twin grandchildren (seven years), and my husband's disabled years (two years with more to come).

What is the hardest part of writing – for you?

Reliving painful experiences can be difficult and I’ve often found myself in tears. Still, readers can grasp the sincerity of my work. Editors too. As one said, “Thanks for writing so honestly.”

Where do you like to write – what is your routine?

In my last house I had a dedicated office. Today, my husband and I live in a wheelchair-friendly townhome. My office, if it can be called that, is a notch cut out of the laundry room, and my computer desk is really in a hallway. Sometimes I get annoyed with my notch office, but I can’t criticize it because four books about family caregiving have come from the notch.

What do you do when you are not writing – do you have a day job?

I love writing so much I actually write in my sleep. Around three in the morning my mind tells me about an error in the first paragraph on page 37 or helps me revise a sentence. When I get up at five in the morning I’m revved and raring to go. Original work is written in the morning. Business letters, contacts, and social network postings tend to be in the afternoon. For me, every day is a writing day.

Do you work with an outline or just write?

Because I’m a non-fiction writer, I make detailed outlines that include all major points, sub-points, and references that need to be cited.

What advice would you have for other writers?

Whether it’s emails, or letters, or paragraphs, or experimenting with words, I encourage you to write every day.

How important is marketing and social media for you?

Both are very important to me but I’m 80 years old and come from a generation that was taught not to brag. I shared this thought with the owner of my publishing company. Her reply was helpful and wise: “You’re not bragging, you’re citing facts.” One problem I have is that people can’t believe a older person like me can still be productive. In truth, I have so many new ideas I hardly know what to do with them. I’ve written a fifth book in my family caregiver series and want to do one more revision before I submit it to the publisher.

What’s your next step?

 My next step it to revise the marketing outline that I created for my caregiving series, improve my social media skills, and continue to give talks and workshops that extend my books.

The Family Caregiver’s Guide by Harriet Hodgson is available here.