I began (reluctantly) playing the piano at age five. My aunt had been a concert pianist, thus my mother determined I could follow in her footsteps. Every Saturday, while my friends were playing games or going to parties, I was in Mrs. Abbott’s piano studio, learning Every Good Boy Does Fine, and All Cows Eat Grass. Those are the names of the notes on the piano, and a creative way of teaching them is to have tiny little baby boys and cows and place them on the appropriate keys. Fun.
Later, I learned that to play and sing was a good way to attract the attention of my peers. Sold. Thanks, mom.
In the beginning, I was told to write about what you know. What did I know? Other than how to rear children and work in the family business, I knew how to make music. My imagination introduced me to Allison Chandler, loving sister of Brett Chandler, US Special Forces. Allison, a Juilliard graduate on tour in Europe with the Juilliard String Quartet had become an artist known for her performance of the Moonlight Sonata, by Beethoven, in a way that captivated audiences worldwide and propelled her career throughout the United States and Europe. She was my alter ego. The part that played much, much better and didn’t forget the composition part way through the performance.
Brett came home from Afghanistan suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and committed suicide during a catastrophic episode. Allison’s muse died along with her beloved brother. The glamour of the concert stage no longer appealed. A woman like Allison would want to use her skills and help other men and women suffering from PTSD, right?
Thus, the research began, and the statistics were appalling. Seventy-seven percent of veterans returning from a field of battle suffer from some form of the disorder. Medical doctors and therapists believe every soldier – that’s one hundred percent – may experience a degree of PTSD. My heart was broken. I had to write this story and it had to realistically show the effects in human terms of the sacrifices made on behalf of freedom and our extremely self-centered way of life.
I found out about the use of music therapy in the treatment of PTSD and gave Allison the solution to her problems. She became a Certified Music Therapist with a job at the VA hospital in her hometown.
Enter Brodie Miller, new Director of the VA, childhood crush of Allison and himself suffering night sweats, hallucinations, black-outs and self-medicating with alcohol. As Fate would have it, they meet and Allison’s childhood crush becomes her woman crush, but Brodie is in no shape to reciprocate. And on the story goes, from one situation to another; some tantalizing, some heartbreaking, until Brodie heals and Allison finds her happy ending with the love of her life.
Sonata by Moonlight led to another book, A Little Night Music, about another hero and a damaged heroine fighting her own battle with breast cancer, due out late 2016.