Interview with Author Diane Grimard Wilson
Author Diane Grimard Wilson, Is There a Message in Your Novel That You Want Readers to Grasp?
My recent book is a medical memoir called Brain Dance. It’s about a concussion that changed my life. The message I most want people to grasp is that without permission or notice, your life can change. Your magnificent brain has a powerful influence on who you are and both brain injury and training can radically change your life circumstances. Brain awareness and health is so important. There are many tools to help your brain from music to neurofeedback.
Learning about the brain from a human story like mine can be like reading a novel that makes you laugh, learn and love others more.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It was hard to decide if I would write a prescriptive non-fiction (instructional, giving advice) book or memoir (focusing on the human story).
It took months to make this decision and I wrote and wrote trying both ways. It didn’t feel right to me to be inserting lessons while telling the story of my brain injury. Instead, I grew committed to bringing readers into my world to experience the injury, recovery, and new career with me.
In the end, I felt this was the book that would be of most service to my readers.
I am very grateful for this choice and everyone who helped. People tell me Brain Dance reads like a novel they can’t put down. They experience the pain, confusion, humor, insights and triumphs as it evolved. I added a chapter near the end on concussion treatment and resources. I will also create a workbook for peak performance training.
For concussion treatment advice, this is not the book I’d recommend. For inspiration, insight, light humor, compassion-building about concussion and developing your brain no matter who you are, this is your book.
How many books have you written, and which is your favorite?
I have written two books. The first was a career book called Back in Control. It’s on unemotional unemployment – the underbelly of emotions in transition. It’s designed to help readers increase resilience and make the most of planned and unplanned career changes.
My second book called Brain Dance is a memoir on a concussion, the checkered path to my full recovery and, in the process, becoming an applied neuroscientist, myself. I love both books but Brain Dance was about 10 times as complex and hard to write as Back in Control. I’m very proud of Brain Dance and hope it help many people.
Like Oliver Sacks, my inspiration, I want people to share a love for brain science, and how it can help us all.
If You had the chance to cast your main character from Hollywood today, who would you pick and why?
The main character of my memoir is me. If I were to cast me from Hollywood today I would choose Charlize Theron. We are both very tall and thin (prior to my pandemic 10), and have blond hair. She could grasp my character easily since she has a great acting range from the gritty movie Monster to some of the more glamorous roles. I would guess on a personal level she’s understated and yet brave, like me.
When did you begin writing?
I started to keep a journal five days before my 16th birthday. In college, my major was psychology and I earned a Bachelor’s degree in science. In graduate school, my best friend was an amazing writer so I always thought of her as “the writer.”
Then into my career, I felt there was a gap in the resources on job transition. No one really talked about the underbelly of change. Many of my clients felt bad about the emotions they had of depression, sadness, despair and feeling crazy. So, I collected quotes from people in change on these issues and put them together with coaching tips to create my first book. I wanted people to feel empowered and not alone during job transition, to be able to manage the mental game of change.
How long did it take to complete your first book?
I spent 12 weeks in a class on how to write a book proposal. That included writing two chapters of the book I was proposing. Prior to that, I spent 16 months collecting the data I needed for the proposal.
My class ended in spring. Our teacher said we could take the summer off and pick up in the fall with another class she was teaching that would keep us moving on the book project. When we returned together in the fall, I had secured a book deal and finished writing the book. Over the summer, I wrote more than half of it in six weeks. It just came together and I enjoyed the writing. The publishing contract had a Labor Day deadline and I made it. Deadlines change everything.
Did you have an author who inspired you to become a writer?
While not a writer, I was inspired by my Grandma Grimard. She took lessons and played the violin into her 90’s even though she was paralyzed on one side from a stroke. She was a role model of discipline and commitment, having art in your life and being an artist of whatever type.
My husband and I also have friend we have known over a period of years – Bob Thompson. He was a prolific wine writer, author of over 30 books. After spending many dinners with him talking about wine and foods, I somehow realized as much as I liked him, he was just human. And, if he could write books and sell them, maybe I could, too.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
The feeling of flow, putting the pieces together, long afternoons and evenings just writing. I love long unbroken periods of writing.
Describe your latest book in 4 words.
Science reads like novel
Can you share a little bit about your current work or what is in the future for your writing?
My current work is writing on Brain Dance topics like sleep, stress, EMDR, neurofeedback, heart-rate variability and optimizing your brain. After working two years on the book, it’s a bit fun to write short things – blogs, articles, and interviews.
I am excited to hear from people who are reading Brain Dance and these will hopefully be a way to connect.
The mission of Brain Dance – brain health and awareness – is very important to me. I’ll be open and looking for ways to advance that mission.