Author Spotlight with Joe Sivak
K.S. Hello and welcome to the blog. I am very excited to have you here. Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself.
J.S. I am a husband and the father of a teenage son and a three year old beagle. I have been a doctor for 22 years. I work at my day job arguably in one of the most detested, misunderstood, stressful and thankless professions there is, I am a psychiatrist. That's not a psychologist by the way, it means I went to medical school, and it took about 16 years before I was done with school and training. It means I get to prescribe meds, but most importantly it means I get to sign my signature below everybody else at the bottom of the page. It is sort of like how one feels when you sign for a mortgage or a car loan, remember how you felt? I get to do that 100's of times a month. You get immune to the stress.
I like to travel and be on the move, seeing and learning new places, it helps my writing flow. But as you acquire bizarrely uncommon levels of responsibility for others, whether it be because of choice, or karma or the collective unconscious, you have to find a compromise and place within yourself, that nether land between responsibility, creativity and flow. That is not always easy to do. It is something I work at and struggle with.
K.S. Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?
J.S. Yes, I used to like to always put ink to paper, but my writing has come so atrocious over the years, I can't read it myself, so original thoughts and words are usually starting from the keyboard now.
K.S. When did you realize you wanted to be a writer? What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?
J.S. Sometime on my mid 20's in the middle of medical school, about 20 years ago. The journey through my mother's Alzheimer's disease, diagnosed when I was a teenager, sparked me to write.
K.S. What genre do you write?
J.S. Medical memoir is what my first book is , currently I am working on a work of fiction about psychiatric residency.
K.S. What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career? Or, who is your favorite author and why?
J.S. I like reading most classic literary works written from 1800-1950. I like seeing how absolutely nothing has changed in basic human nature over the last 200 or so years. I like thinking about out the times then and envisioning things, I like thinking about the authors and their lives, what the world must have been like, it sort of like traveling, except in my mind. I like Hardy, Poole, Fitzgerald, Flaubert, Cather, Hemingway, Wolf, Lewis, Any classics will do. I am finishing Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and I am looking forward to reading some Booth Tarkington soon. All of them motivate me to write.
K.S. What does your family think of your writing?
J.S. Well I think they are supportive, it does not menace or bother them, they know it does not really pay the bills, but they know it is something important to me, and they respect it as a part of me.
K.S. What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?
J.S. How much the writing, publishing and book industry has changed in the last decade, with the electronic age, I hope it never happens but there are some who would really like for books ink on a page to become obsolete.
K.S. What inspired you to write your novel?
j.s. It was a story that was within my psyche and my soul that was just dying to burst out onto paper. We all have a story inside of us. In the end we all have our own personal hell, our own struggles, that are no more or less exceptional than anybody else's. But I wanted my future generations to understand where they came from. Most off all, Alzheimer's disease is such a lousy process, it affects 5 million, and one of the worst parts about it, is the isolation is causes in families. I thought the book might actually help somebody and cut down on that isolation. It's hard for me to really imagine any huge endeavor without maybe benefiting someone, and that pushed me to finally get it done.
K.S. Can you tell us a little about your novel? (Do you have a novel synopsis or jacket copy? If you would like you can also include a snippet of your first chapter. Please no more than 500 words for space issues.)
J.S. Here is a synopsis
" The true life account of a young man living with the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in a parent. The disease was diagnosed in his mother when the author was seventeen years old in 1979, long before Alzheimer's disease was a household term.
The book candidly traces with graphic detailed description and dialogue the course of the fatal illness. The emotional issues of such pivotal events as the loss of autonomy of driving a car and entry into a nursing home are experienced through the eyes of a young son. From a concurrent viewpoint Alzheimer's is explained with the wisdom of a 21st century physician who has personally experienced the emotional anguish, and thus the fact-based journey is a truly unique dual-perspective Alzheimer's memoir. The story juxtaposes the active uphill battle to become a doctor set against the backdrop of the passive helpless struggle of losing a parent to the disease
The narrative provides explicit commentary on the modern plight of the physician and the global connection family members of an Alzheimer's victim painstakingly share. The unusual, seldom before elicited insights of the dual-perspective vigorously address universal issues such as coping, hope, futility, humiliation and societal bias toward the disease throughout the text."
K.S. Where can we find your novel?
The publisher website: www.niagarapress.net
Barnes and Noble, and a lot of other online book retailers.
K.S. Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?
blog address http://alzheimmers.blogspot.com
K.S. Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?
J.S. Write because you love to write, because you need to write. Your writing be it fiction or memoir or whatever is a deeply personal and intimate look into your heart and psyche. Don't expect anybody else to see it that way. Selling books and giving a part of yourself and your toil and effort and creativity etc are two disconnected things. Don't give up if you truly need to have a published work, there are many ways to do that now more than ever. Most importantly, keep perfecting your craft of writing