GENRE: memoir


Cathy Lynn Brooks is a wife, mother, and grandmother from Ontairio, Canada. Brooks wrote Not My Story to Tell to honor her late daughter, Justine. She hopes her work can provide comfort to families in similar situations.

Cathy also spent forty years working with special-needs children and young adults. Her experiences gave her new insights into the problems her own family faced

JDBOOKS has the privilege of an interview with author Cathy Lynn Brooks

Where do you live and is that the setting for your book?

I live in Ontario, Canada in a tiny village an hour away from

Toronto. It is where my family lived during my daughter,

Justine’s life from ages 8 to adulthood.

How did you come up with the premise of Not My Story to Tell? Was it something that you experienced?

After Justine was killed in a car accident at aged 29 I didn’t know

what to do with my grief so I started writing about our experiences

and her life.

How did you come up with an amazing title?

During our original crisis I contacted a professional

organization. I told the woman that we needed to better

communicate the issues and she told me it was not my

story to tell. It was Justines. It kept me silent.

Your book is a Memoir. What drew you to the genre?

I enjoy memoirs and true stories. I knew I had a story of

my own to share that might help others.

Do you think writers need to feel strong emotions in order to write a Memoir?

A story without involving emotions in the reader is

pointless. Readers want to feel something. It’s the

writers job to take their own emotions and put them

down. I was born under the astrological sign of

Cancer. We are empaths who feel deeply.

In one of my blog pieces, I discuss how to approach writing a book, but it is mainly targeted towards those who want to write books. What advice would you give someone on how to approach writing a Memoir?

Memoirs are not autobiographies. They must have a

strong theme. There must be a reason why a reader

would want to read it. A memoir author needs to be

honest about his/her experiences. It’s scary but


Have any of the part of story in Not My Story to Tell? Been influenced by TV or movie figures? If so, which one(s)?

Actors are more honest now about mental health issues

but it was not openly discussed then. Angela Jolie and

Winona Rider are two actors who speak about it and one

movie Girl Interrupted was honest.

If you could give your younger self some advice about the writing process, what would it be?

I would tell her not to pay attention to naysayers who

didn’t believe she could do it. I would also pass on the

good advice I received. Just set a goal of one hour a day

to write. Before you know it, you have a whole book.

What time do you usually start writing and what do you find the hardest part of the writing process?

I wrote Not My Story to Tell one hour a day (minimum) after

work and in the evening. Now that I’m retired I work during

the day. Writing is the easy, fun part. Editing is grueling and

marketing is time consuming.

How has writing changed you?

I have more confidence. I feel validated when I get good

reviews and I’m proud that I’ve accomplished something

that people didn’t think I could do.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?

I garden, paint, spend time with my two grandsons who

are 4 and 1 and read. I’m going to spend the winter in

Florida where my goal is to get fit.