Please help me welcome my dear friend, Ms. Kathryn Treat. Kathryn is a fellow Governing Board Member of the Rave Reviews Book Club and author of Allergic To Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope now available on Amazon.
Kathryn, can you tell us a little about your book?
My book is about my incredible journey through mold induced illness and severe allergies and sensitivities to all chemicals. I would like to say that I am the only one suffering from this illness but I am far from alone. After seventeen years of being a stay-at-home mother and volunteer of everything, I chose to go back to work when my younger daughter was about to graduate high school. I had no idea that the office I was about to work in would change my life forever. Suddenly I was constantly ill, experiencing life threatening situations, and giving up my treasured possessions. I would trade my contacts for glasses, my make-up for a bare face, my hair-color for gray hair, my nice clothes for t-shirts and jeans, and give up my beautiful home full of furnishings and crafts that I made and loved for a house that feels more like a doctor’s waiting room than a home.
Sounds like an interesting and informative read! What inspired you to write this?
I was inspired to write my book when I realized how little people including the medical and legal profession understood about environmental illness. I was one of the lucky ones who had a steadfast family supporting me who never thought I was crazy. This was not the case for many that I met and I felt by sharing my story in a way I was sharing their story as well.
Was writing this book an enjoyable experience, or did you find it difficult at times?
I enjoyed being well enough at times to write this book. I first started writing notes for the book in 2003 and finished the final draft in late 2012. There were several reasons it took me so long. The first reason was the difficulty of writing my story. I would begin working on it one afternoon and find it too painful to write. Reliving my story often sent me into a spiral of depression and anxiety. There were periods of time where I couldn’t look at it for months. Another major delay in getting the book finished was trying to decide where to end it. I kept waiting for the miracle. Finally I just decided that I needed to end it where I currently am and be okay with that choice.
What projects are you currently working on?
A fellow environmental patient and I are working on a children’s book about environmental illness and are getting close to looking for an illustrator. I also recently became involved with Rave Reviews Book Club as a governing board member. I am finding this club very exciting as well as learning about new authors I might never have discovered otherwise.
In my “old life” as I call it now, I was a seamstress and made many craft items. It took me years to be able to control the visual overstimulation problem that the mold exposure did to my brain. I am finally able to sew again. I make simple block quilts that I donate to a local children’s hospital. When I am stressed over writing or life, you may often find me sitting at my sewing machine stitching fabric pieces together.
What kind of environment do you write in? A noisy café, a quiet library, at your kitchen table?
I write from the solitude of my home office. I like to be alone and just write. I don’t always sleep well. During these periods, my mind is just going and won’t shut down. It is during some of these nights when an idea will hit me. I try to write it down in my journal. Other nights I am carrying on a conversation in my head as if I am telling a story. It is a strange thing really. I am not awake and I am not truly asleep during these episodes. The sad part is that I don’t usually remember my dreams long enough to be able to write them down. However, there may be a story lying in there amongst all my other journal entries.
What was the first thing you ever wrote? How old were you?
I really didn’t write much other than the occasional speech for PTA meetings or the speech for a dedication of a new school where I was board president at the time. I began writing unstructured poetry when I became ill. My pain and isolation were so great that I would find myself up at night fighting the tears and hysteria and wondering if I was going to survive another day. During those times I wrote the poems in my journals. Many of those poems are in my book.
Is there a difference between Kathryn the writer and Kathryn the person?
I think Kathryn the writer and Kathryn the person are pretty much the same. I speak from my heart and I write from my heart.
What about Kathryn the person versus Kathryn the public figure? Is there a difference there?
The biggest difference between Kathryn the person and Kathryn the public figure is what you see if you were to see me in public. I am often more reserved, constantly being aware of my surroundings to avoid exposures that could make me very sick. In public you most likely will see me wearing a charcoal filter mask over my face to allow me to make a trip into the store. In this person, you cannot see whether I am smiling or frowning. I may smile at you from behind the mask but you cannot see that. I have often wondered if when I smile from behind my mask it shows anywhere in my eyes.
What other writing have you done?
I have not done any other writing but hope one day to have the drive and energy to put forth another book.
What is the best and worst part of the writing process for you?
The best part of the writing process is putting my feelings down in words and allowing my thoughts to wander a little. The worst part is the editing and reviewing what I have written.
Do you believe writers are born…or made?
This is a tough question. I think I would choose both. I believe some people are born to write. I see some people write so effortlessly (my younger daughter is this way). Then I also believe that some are made to write because of circumstances that push them in that direction.
What genres do you read mostly and what are you reading now?
I have become a very eclectic type of reader since becoming ill. My main reading was mysteries. Suddenly after writing and meeting many indie authors, I discovered that I didn’t mind a little sci-fi or paranormal. I read biographies and other non-fiction books on healing and health. Currently you will find me reading the most recent selection on the Rave Reviews Book Club site or a book from one of the spotlighted authors.
Do you have any advice for those toying with the idea of becoming a novelist/writer?
I think the best advice is to give it a try. You have nothing to lose by putting your words to paper other than your time. I also recommend reading, reading, and more reading. Review the books you have read and read other reviews of those books. This will give you an idea of the differences in opinion of books and maybe will shed a little insight into how you want to write.
How many hours a week do you work these days?
Because I have a chronic illness and have good days and bad days, that is a very difficult question to answer. Some days I spend a lot of time in the office or at the computer. Other days, I just sit and read and rest.
It’s been suggested that as a group, writers tend to be elitists. Do you agree with this assertion?
My experience with writers I have met thus far shows them to be anything but elitists. The writers and authors I have met have been kind, sincere, and genuinely helpful and supportive of me and my writing.
What is your view of brand management? Is this a positive or negative aspect of an author’s work and is this something you’re personally comfortable with?
I believe in my case brand management has been reasonably simple. My brand directly relates to my illness and the topics in my book.
Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude this interview?
I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my book and my story with you and your readers. I never imagined when I became ill that I would one day have written a book and be giving an interview about it.
You’re very welcome, Kathryn–the pleasure’s been all mine.
Allergic to Life discusses the reality of mold exposure and chemical sensitivity. It chronicles the journey of the author through a maze of battles as she attempts to regain her health. Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope was written by Kathryn Chastain Treat.
Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope is Kathryn’s story of self-doubt, loss of identity, and the pain of skepticism – from the medical and legal profession. It is a heart-wrenching journey of endurance, hope, and hard-won triumph. Her experience with mold exposure gives her a unique perspective on the physical and emotional effects of mold exposure. Read her story and learn how she was able to overcome these many obstacles to become an advocate for her own health.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kathryn was born in Missouri and raised in the California’s Central Valley. She is one of two daughters. She was an active 44-year-old stay-at-home mother of two when she decided to venture back into the workplace after spending 17 years raising her daughters. Little did she realize that this opportunity for professional growth and financial independence would force her through a never ending series of battles with the medical and legal profession, make her a prisoner of her own home, and mire her in severe depression. After workplace exposure to mold caused severe immune system dysfunction, Kathryn’s world turned upside down and nothing would ever be the same.
For more information on Allergic to Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope or the author, visit: Kathryn Chastain Treat at http://kathryntreat.com/
ABOUT DANICA CORNELL:
Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.
Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.