Archive for October 16th, 2008

I am very grateful for the unique opportunity I have been given here in that it is so very rare that writers are asked about the writing process itself. As someone who has taught numerous poetry and creative writing workshops the process of writing or the craft as I have always called it was a major aspect of helping aspiring writers learn how to hone their writing skills.

My book, HER GODMOTHER, is a magical story that addresses the presence of an alcoholic parent that ultimately causes the breakup of a little girl’s family. Firstly, this was a book I had to write as I am the adult child of an alcoholic. I know how this disease impacts on a child but I also know first hand the scars that remain into adulthood. I have met numerous other adults who had a parent that was an alcoholic as they were growing up. Some of them carry scars far deeper than I carried.

It was very important to me to bring this message forward so that children would find a special place within this story to journey with Allie on her road to healing and in so doing touch something magical within themselves to begin their own healing process. As Allie’s mother plans relocation to start a new life she sends Allie to stay the summer with her godmother, Brigid who is very colorful. Brigid sees everyday life as a magical adventure. And in introducing this new insight for Allie into the book, I crafted what is to be a better understanding of real magic and yes, Witchcraft. As a Witch myself and a fan of Harry Potter as well I wanted to demonstrate the magic of every day life that Witches observe, are grateful for and celebrate. You see by being able to see and feel the magic of everything around you, you simply have to heal. Many call these experiences miracles and I believe in miracles. I simply call it magic. A misunderstood belief system, Witchcraft (which in no way is Satanism) is often maligned or grossly misrepresented (no offence to Ms. Rowling for her work is both wonderfully entertaining and provided a venue for interest and even tolerance.) I wanted to help people understand that Witchcraft is a gentle path which I know will surprise many and that it is not flying on broom at all.

In HER GODMOTHER, Allie learns that the responsibility for her suffering is not hers but her father’s because he has a disease and an inability to choose treatment. This subject of accountability is a primary tenet of Witchcraft. Allie’s father must assume responsibility for his actions with a sound treatment plan as pivotal to the hope of recovery. In HER GODMOTHER, the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is also a major factor in helping Allie heal. Many children who read this book that may have someone in their family that is an alcoholic may not know about AA. This book will help them realize that there are programs that do insist the alcoholic take responsibility for his/her illness. This is very important for children to acknowledge for I myself, like Allie, always felt that somehow it was my fault that my dad drank. It makes no sense but that is the mechanism of the dysfunction. Adult lives are often impaired by the “ghosts” of self judgment that can haunt the adult child of an alcoholic.

Wicca and Witchcraft to the surprise of many are truly tolerant paths and in HER GODMOTHER, this gentle belief system is exemplified through the example of Brigid, Allie’s godmother. To bring the belief system home, so to speak, the location of this story is in Livingston Manor where I live. The Manor has been a magical experience for me in that it is rural and it is here that I am fortunate to experience the magic of a sunny day and the hardship of the force of winter but each of these and so many other things are magical! Witchcraft is living in appreciation and respect for all things and in harmony with the environment as much as possible. Choosing a country setting and taking the time to go into great detail about what Allie sees and experiences there was my way of assisting the reader in traveling from wherever they are to where Allie is.

As an animal lover I was sure to make HER GODMOTHER rich with interesting animals and in fact one pet is a major character with a story of her own! In this regard I wanted to help children see the soul of animals and pets as I know them to be which is an amazing experience in unconditional love.

These were the points I worked very hard to impart: education on programs that treat alcoholism, religious understanding and tolerance, an awareness of the everyday miracles and magical experiences that are all around us as tools for coping and healing and a sensitivity to other entities that share this home called earth.

I had test readers that were children and adults alike as I continued to rewrite because although HER GODMOTHER is classified as a children’s book, the writing style, while age appropriate for the target audience is also of the quality of many novels adult read.
I knew what my storyline was and simply focused on telling it in a way that would be fun for anyone to read. This was deliberate on my part because I also wanted adult children of alcoholics to experience a respite from their “shadows” and if unfamiliar with AA groups to perhaps begin to research them and ultimately join to facilitate further healing. I very carefully selected words that would make this book fun reading for children and adults alike and based on feedback I have succeeded.

The bottom line is I am extremely proud of having accomplished what I set out to do. I created a book that is well written. It provides insight into healing on different levels that also offers readers the opportunity to experience a catharsis from their demons while delivering entertainment. To this end HER GODMOTHER has not, to date, received less than a five star rating!

Cate Cavanaugh is the author of HER GODMOTHER, available at fine bookstores, including Barnes and Noble, barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. If you want to read a bit about everyday magic, visit Cate’s blog and, if interested in the science of magic, please visit quantumspirituality.tripod.com

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