About The Book
Without walking, Mike travels where we all want to go.
Without touching, Mike blends with Jenna in an intimate dance.
Without movement, Mike surfs a wave of bursting life, heartache, and dreams.
Music connects Mike’s emotions to his heart, from Oliver’s Good Morning Starshine on a sunny childhood day, to the blues of Joni Mitchell’s River, to Van Morrison transporting us Into the Mystic.
Inspired by true events, Mike’s powerful journey brings laughter and tears, and an understanding that everything in life happens for a reason.
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Once Beneath the Stars Q&A
Q. Why did you think it would be interesting to write about a man who can’t move?
A. I was inspired by the life story of a man who was injured in a high school football game, but who was an inspiration to just about everyone who knew him. He maintained his magnetism and his athlete’s mindset to persist through his disability. The character Mike Murphy is an attractive guy, a jock, who, with his family’s help and dedication, lives and loves and maintains strong personal relationships. As the story unfolds, Mike’s questions of who he is in his mind vs. who he is stuck in bed are explored.
Q. The chapters jump time from 1993 to 1974, then to 1985, and back and forth throughout. Why did you use this style of writing?
A. The style works well by keeping the reader’s interest and curiosity peaked. I liked bringing the reader to a pinnacle at the end of a chapter and then changing speeds completely by bringing them forward in time to when he can’t move, then back to when he was a kid coming home from a baseball game. Think about writing a story of a man who is paralyzed for 20 years. In sequence, it could be too slow, sad, or drawn out. I wanted the reader to laugh and cry, and to ride a roller coaster with Mike, in time to the music that’s on the pages.
Q. Speaking of the music, the lyrics you chose from over 25 songs work nicely with the action taking place. How much work did it take to fit the lyrics with the scenes and chapters?
A. It took only a pen and a notepad to write down lyrics I heard while driving to work. (Yes, I scribbled as I drove.) Many times, I would hear songs that related exactly to the chapters I had written that morning (I did most of the writing in the early morning). I’m a classic rock fan and songs from that era fit the tone and mood of the story.
Q. Getting to the controversial subject in the story, Kevorkian and physician-assisted suicide, is there an intended message to your readers?
A. Freedom. Choices. Mike makes the choice early in the story to switch schools to play football. Later, when he learns about the man named Kevorkian, he has another choice to make. Mike fought to live for 20 years and he did live—but without a body. I intended the book to be inspirational to show that even without our bodies, the important part of who we are still exists. I wanted to show the strength of the human spirit. Mike is a concrete figure—he’s a star athlete, a guy who wants to be with women and be able to unbutton their blouses. Yet, when he’s with a woman he falls in love with, Jenna, his emotions and his relationship with her can only exist in his head.
Q. What is the most important relationship in the book?
A. Obviously, the romantic relationship is essential to the story, but I think the relationships Mike had with his brothers, Joe and Tommy, are the most important. There are many funny episodes, especially in conversations between the three men. Without his brothers, he’s dead. They do everything for him. Of course mom is there too, but each brother develops a special bond with Mike, one that has to endure years of raw emotions. Imagine your siblings having to do everything for you like an infant. In Mike’s case, it makes his already strong brotherhood, stronger. I was pleased with how the story unfolded to show the quiet strength of men.
Q. What do you want readers to remember after reading the book?
A. That the physical side of our existence is only half the story.