Posts tagged ‘memoir’

January 17, 2012

Interview – Christine M. Grote, Author of Dancing in Heaven

RED! the breakthrough ‘zine Interview with Christine M. Grote

RED! contributing writer, Elizabeth Bryant, recently interviewed RED! writer and blog/technical consultant, Christine Grote, about the publication of her first book, DANCING IN HEAVEN: A Sister’s Memoir.  It is an evocative exploration of the life and death of Christine’s sister, Annie.  The book delves deeply into the complexities of caregiving and the endless – and endlessly loving – attention the family gave toward assisting a sister and daughter who, profoundly disabled, was never able to speak, nor was she capable of mobility without help.  Christine’s memoir, a truly innovative work in the literature of caregiving and family relationships, most of all captures the joyous spirit of Annie, who constantly in her limitations still communicated great warmth, laughter, and love to anyone around her. Christine Grote, also a contributing writer for RED!, is an original member of RED!’s staff, and for four years has assisted in the publication’s editing, design, promotion and marketing, and technical advancements.

RED! – After reading your book, it is obvious that Annie was a very big part of your families’ lives and that you all loved her dearly. At what point in your life did you really start to think that you would like to write about Annie’s life?  

Christine:  Not until I was an adult and had children of my own.

RED! – How did your family feel about you writing this story of Annie? Were they supportive?

Christine: Some of my family members were supportive and some were not. I think my mother supported me both as a writer and because I was recording a piece of our family’s history. I think she is happy to have and to be able to share Annie’s story.

RED! – I love the way the pictures in your book aid in telling Annie’s story. The front cover and the picture on the back cover really add to the story as well. Can you tell me about how you chose the pictures and cover that you chose?

Christine: I just tried to make the picture relate in some way to what I was writing about. Some of the pictures I moved around a few times. Originally I wanted to use more family group photos, but when two of my siblings were unwilling to sign release forms, I had to remove most of the group shots. My daughter designed the cover. It was her inspiration, and I loved it.

RED! – Do you feel that writing this book has helped you in a sense deal with Annie’s passing?

Christine: I think it has, in the sense that rubbing salt in a wound expedites the healing. It was painful to write, but it forced me to face a lot of things that were difficult.

RED! – Do you think that it has helped your family cope better with her passing? Have they read the book?

Christine: I think it is beginning to help my mother. She has read it three times now: twice in the original version that included all family members and once in the rewrite version. My sister Carol has read it. My father is unable.

RED! – I think this book will be very helpful to others who have or are currently going through similar circumstances in their lives. Is that something you had in mind when writing your book?

Christine: Absolutely. In fact, I sent one of my books to my friend Jim, who is in the book. He read it, and then gave it to a co-worker whose four-month-old child was just diagnosed with cerebral palsy. He told me he thought it would give her inspiration and strength.

RED! – What advice can you give aspiring writers who are thinking of writing a book, particularly a memoir?

Christine: I believe memoirs are very important because they record a piece of history, or what is happening in the here and now. They are also tricky. Memoir stories have to be told in the context the events were lived, which requires including other people. Some people, as I unfortunately learned first hand, do not want to be in a book. My advice would be this: if you are writing about someone else, check with them every step of the way, so you don’t end up with a complete story that you are unable to publish.

RED! – Thank you again, Christine; I hope your family is doing well.

Christine: Thank you.

You can contact Christine at:


Dancing in Heaven is available at: (print and Kindle)
(print and Nook)
(multiple ebooks)

To read excerpts from Dancing in Heaven and book reviews, please visit the Dancing in Heaven page on Christine’s blog.