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  • Writer's pictureP. Brunn-Perkins

I thought I would use the current Covid-19 time out to put together answers to questions asked by readers of Twisting Legacy.

June 22, 2019

I view my book as a reflection on me. As such, I want it to be accurate, readable, thought-provoking, and informative. I am also of a mind that everything can be improved, which poses a dilemma for me as a writer. Can one ever improve something too much? I can answer yes to that question. With Twisting Legacy, I have struggled with knowing when to stop correcting, adding, deleting, and improving—hence the different editions. I apologize to my readers for delaying the final product. Yesterday, I had a little talk with myself and decided enough is enough. So, for better or worse, I am letting this last edition (due out in several weeks) go as is. Whew!


Did you have a reason for selecting the subject of your book?

Yes. With the mapping of the human genome, medical science has entered a new frontier as significant as our leap into space. The future will bring many innovations in genetic medicine. I wanted to write a story around an inherited disease to pique the readers’ curiosity about genetics—and primarily genetically transmitted illnesses.

The ability of scientists to locate disease-causing genes begs the question, what next? I think it is safe to say that in the future, geneticists will attempt to modify bad genes by altering their DNA. The objective would be to prevent the further transmission of unwanted genetic illnesses. For individuals currently afflicted with hereditary and chronic diseases, gene manipulation raises the hope of discovering gene therapies that can treat and possibly cure their disorders.

The benefits of our new knowledge of genes could be many, but there are equally as many opportunities for abuse. As much as the elimination of genetically related ailments would be welcome, fiddling with the human gene pool for any reason affects us all. To prevent undesired consequences or deliberate abuses, gene manipulation techniques, objectives, and outcomes will require intense scrutiny, not just in our country but worldwide.

Although genetics is a complex subject that is hard for the average person to understand, with the jury still out on the long-term safety of genetically modified plants and animals, we can’t be too careful. Twisting Legacy is my attempt to provoke interest in genetic engineering by bringing to light the all too human desperation of those waiting for present-day cures and therapies and, in the future, the prevention of all genetic diseases. ​

Why did you write about the particular hereditary disease mentioned in your book?

As a nursing student at Cornell University in New York City, I was assigned to Goldwater Memorial Hospital for a two-month stint as part of the curriculum on chronic diseases. I have never forgotten the bravery of the two patients for whom I cared or the many examples of courage demonstrated by the chronically-ill patients who resided there. I particularly recall a young woman confined to an iron lung who painted with her teeth. Her paintings were not only beautiful, but they also personified a strong inner spirit determined to make the most of life. I also remember with a smile a good-natured bilateral amputee who used canes to propel his stretcher down the hallways. He called himself the Drag King. I can still hear him laugh. My time at Goldwater left an indelible and meaningful mark.

Why did you select Naples, FL, as the setting for your book?

I have a home in Naples, so I am familiar with the city’s assets. It is as beautiful as described in the book. I am also fascinated by the old-fashioned phenomenon, season, that takes place during the winter months in Naples. Season brings together year-round and part-time residents, their guests, and tourists to socialize. Reminiscent of the grand seasons of the 1870s and 1880s in New York City, Philadelphia, Newport, Chicago, and other cities, Neapolitans fling themselves headlong into a flurry of balls, parties, concerts, dinners, auctions and other events to the benefit of many charities.

Do you have a favorite character in your book?

I like Sunny for her intrepidness, loyalty, and insightfulness. She is a do-it-yourself person, a square peg in a round hole, compassionate and resourceful, and the kind of friend we all want.

Since this is your first book, what made you want to write it?

I read a book a few years back that was a waste of time as far as I was concerned. The story was silly, and I came away without a new fact or insight. Since I read to learn and be entertained—this book didn’t do either—I felt cheated. Disgruntled, I thought to myself even I could write a better book. The thought replayed in my mind like a tune you can’t forget. Tired of it banging around in my mind, I admonished myself to put up or shut up. I chose the former option.

  • Writer's pictureP. Brunn-Perkins

Before I was able to write stories, I told them to myself and anyone with the patience to listen. Conjuring up tales during the Sunday sermon made the time fly, and spinning yarns for my younger brothers on long car rides kept them occupied. When I learned to write, I put stories on paper for school projects. In the upper grades, creative writing was all but obliterated, replaced by factual essays and term papers that left no room for imagination.

Book reports were the exception, at least the way I wrote them. Rather than check out the books from the library, reading them, and writing descriptions in the assigned format, I made them up — titles, authors, characters, and story lines. So much more fun, I thought, than reading a book. Yes, I admit it was deceptive. At first, I felt guilty until I rationalized my remorse to a manageable size. After all, I reasoned, composing a report on a made-up book was more challenging than regurgitating someone else’s story.

Was I worried the teacher might look for my imaginary books in the school library? You bet, but when she said she searched for the first book on which I reported and came up empty-handed, my rehearsed reply was, “I checked it out from the base library.” Being an Air Force brat came in handy sometimes. “Oh,” was her sole response. I hoped she had discarded as too intimidating any idea of calling the base librarian to check the truthfulness of my explanation. In hindsight, I suspect she knew I was dissembling, but instead of forcing the issue with a demand to bring the book to school, she said nothing more. Maybe she saw me as a budding author way back then.

In college, I focused on science, imagining it a necessary step toward earning a living someday. Creative writing took a backseat to APA papers, and I learned a new set of writing stylistics from point of view to word choice. Although not as enjoyable as creative writing, APA style taught me conciseness and clarity, characteristics from which all types of writing benefit.

My first writing gigs were over-the-transom submissions to magazines. I was a stay-at-home mom compelled to dabble in writing by a need for intellectual stimulation. Even though the early rejections were frustrating and hard on the ego, sending articles to publishers on speculation taught me to write a better query letter and to follow submission guidelines to a tee.

Armed with several sold articles that proved I could write, I landed a temporary assignment with a New York City magazine that covered local small businesses. In this arena, I learned to add humor to my writing to make an otherwise dull article on a sporting-goods store or beauty salon interesting to read. I must have paid my dues, so to speak, because the editor promoted me to writing celebrity interviews. I enjoyed meeting the subjects of my articles, stars of stage and screen, and the arts. On the writing end, I learned how to prepare for an interview, ask pertinent questions, and portray each individual in their best light with accuracy, honesty, and care to avoid entangling the magazine in legal hassles.

Later in my life, I went back to college for a master’s degree. The curriculum required a semester of volunteer work at a local charity. When I recognized the organization needed a newsletter, I designed one, and after brushing up on journalistic styles, wrote the first few editions. After that, another variety of writing, industry-specific content for a B-2-B website, became my focus.

Over the years, my writing life has run the gamut from creative writing to APA style, from newsletter copy to magazine articles, from celebrity interviews to small business reviews and industry-specific website content. Despite being paid for my endeavors, I considered writing a hobby; I never viewed myself as a real writer, never mind an author.

That changed several years ago when I wasted my time reading a novel by a prolific author. Disappointed and annoyed, I slammed the book shut. Even I could write a more compelling story, I thought. After a few weeks of playing and replaying that notion in my mind like the proverbial broken record, the repetition drove me to a challenge: put up or shut up. When my conscious self realized what my subconscious knew long ago, I put up and wrote a book. To my surprise, an author was born when I published Twisting Legacy this year.

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