Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Gifted Ones by Lisa Vaughn: Review and Interview

Title: The Gifted Ones
Author: Lisa Vaughn
Publisher: Self-Published (for copies, please visit or
Source: Received a copy of the book from the author.

What's the Story?:

From the back of the book: "Have you ever been so in love that your daily breath depended upon one another? Have you ever been pushed to unfathomable limits just to defend your beliefs? Have you ever been made to feel like the underbelly of society? Have you ever been thirteen?

Well I have... and this is my story.

Raised in a Catholic-based household in the Midwest - the year was 1976, and life as I knew it was about to change forever.

The next six years would prove to be a roller coaster of survival for two determined teenagers, being thrust into a full fledged, fight-for-your-life, adult existence- fueled by an overpowering mother and a closed-minded society. All in the name of love."

My Two Cents:

I fully believe that you can't help who you fall in love with. There is also the age old story of parents not liking who their teenage children fall in love with (major cause of teenage angst? I think so!). Lisa happens to fall in love with her best friend as a teenager. Her best friend, Selina, happens to be female. Lisa can't help falling in love. In the 1970s in the Midwest, her family throws an absolute fit and tries to keep them apart to no avail. Lisa's parents can't understand or rather won't understand the powerful connection and relationship between Lisa and Selina. It's sad.

My heart broke for Lisa. I think that as a teenager, you already feel like you are struggling to be accepted. To have your family not accept you for who you are must hurt so badly. As a teen, you struggle just to be yourself but how can you get to the point to where you accept yourself if the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally don't accept you?

If you ask most people about their first loves. They'll probably be able to tell you all about it in great detail. They'll be able to tell you the highs and the lows and everything in between. This book is very much like a letter about the author's first love. I really enjoyed the writing of the book.  It's real and it's raw and you'll feel like you're listening to an old friend.

This book is a journey of the search for being comfortable in your own skin and a good coming of age story.

My Review:
4 out of 5 stars

Author Interview with Lisa Vaughn:

Ms. Vaughn graciously agreed to be interviewed for A Bookish Affair so without further ado...

1. What inspired you to write the story of you and Selina at this point in your life (a couple decades after the events occurred)? Why now and not before?

This memoir actually began as a necessary healing tool for me after my mother's death in 2005. After she was gone, and I had mourned her actual passing, like a lot of daughters I experienced a lot of 'unfinished business' and surprising feelings of built up anger and betrayal towards my mom. After many, many 'therapy walks' alone on the beach, I talked myself  through every one of my remaining issues I had with her, and was shocked at how upset I still was after all those years! So through this book I have been able to channel and release that anger and misunderstanding - putting it in black and white to stare back at me. That's when the light bulb came on and I realized she had only done what she had been taught by her own mother. She truly did not know how to love me the way I needed to be loved at the time...and then throw in the 'gay' thing and bingo...she freaked! The straw that broke the camels back. She simply had no training on how to react, remember it was the late 70's.  So she coped the only way she knew how, not realizing the damage being done.
So for me, this memoir was not a choice, it was a must...for closure and forgiveness - to finally move on once and for all.  

2. In the acknowledgment section of the book, you dedicate it to the various members of your family? Have any of them read the book? What did they think?

Actually, only my sister knows about the book at this point, and has from the beginning. The reason I chose only her is; 1.) She is also an aspiring writer, and an avid reader - perfect to bounce ideas off and have her read my early drafts. 2.) I wanted her 'permission' to expose not only herself, but what she thought of me exposing our family, in sometimes a negative light, in order to lay out an honest, complete background, which I felt was very important to the foundation of the story. 
 At this point, my brother does not know about the book. He is currently still living with my father, taking care of him in his late stage of illness. I see no point in bringing up the past to my dad by telling him about the book, but do plan on telling my brother when I visit next month....but I will advise him to read it after my father is gone, and caution him about my mother's part, as he is still grappling with her death, being the baby of the family and all. He might have to wait a long time before he is ready!
My son also knows about  the book, (but not exact content) and has chosen not to read it at this time. I do hope when he is older (or I am gone) that he will pick it up, and learn how his mother came to be the person she is, and how my journey and lessons learned has benefited him as a result. That's very important to me. He's only 25, and reading intimate things about your mom is still gross (well really, when isn't it?) but I'm guessing he will soon.

3. I also noticed that Selina was not mentioned in the acknowledgment section. Is there a reason that you didn't include her?

Probably the main reason I didn't include her up there is because I felt the whole book was pretty muchalready dedicated to her (ha) and my family really needed to be acknowledged in a positive light for who they turned out to be in the end...and to thank them for letting me expose them on my journey to healing....or maybe it was just plain guilt! (kidding!)

4. In the end of the book, you mention that you've lost touch with Selina? Has that changed since you published The Gifted Ones? Will you reach out to her about the book?

THAT is the best part of the story! The story behind the story! I actually started writing the book in April 2009 (one day before her birthday) knowing it was not only essential for closure with my mother, but also just as important for closure with Selina, even after all those years. I literally went full circle. So from the beginning I knew I had to find her eventually to let her know of my project, as I felt it only fair, and to read the manuscript if nothing else, just in case an actual book never came to fruition. From the beginning I knew there were only two people that I needed to read the book...she was one , the other was my husband.
I did track her down, and it was one of the best things I've ever done! She totally supported my endeavor and we have since reconnected, even visited each other a few times in the past year! We met each others partners', which I am happy to say she DID find someone to share 'The Place' with, and has been with her the same length of time I've been with my husband. We keep in touch on a regular basis now and I can't imagine my life without her in it..she truly is my BFF. I call her my soul-sister, as she will always be ingrained in my soul - a part of me and who I am.

5. What do you hope people learn from your book?

If nothing else gets absorbed from this book, at the very least, I hope the message of acceptance is heard loud and clear. I mean it IS 2011! I cannot even fathom that being gay is still an issue in this country! I cannot stomach the fact that just because I've chosen to be with a male, I enjoy benefits and acknowledgments that my dearest, best friend does not get to have. Is she less of a person than I am, just because she chose to love the wrong sex in the eyes of the conservative public? How are they still getting away with this? To me it is just as important as the civil rights movement in the early sixties. 
And also, if parents could take a step back and remember that every reaction to their child's actions will influence that child for life, whether positively or negatively - you are wholly responsible for setting the pace for self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, the ability to handle criticism, future relationships...the list goes on and on. Parents mold and guide their children in the direction they need to go. But if you go against their programmed nature, and refuse to accept them for who they really are - not who you want them to be - you are dismissing and neglecting their needs as their true authentic self, only setting them up for a lifetime of struggles and misery in the ability to fit in or even accept themselves...which in the worst cases could lead to a life of abusive relationships, addictions, or even death.  And what parent wants that for their child? Like I said, the legacy of hate has to stop with our generation. It just has to, it'sway past time!   

6. Do you plan to write anything more? Fiction or memoir?

Ha...lets just see how this one goes! If there's one thing in my life I've learned, it's never say we'll see. IF I did, being an artist whose release is self-expression in a creative medium, I'd probably write another autobiography-style type of book. But it would have to have a purpose or a message to convey, I think. Who knows, maybe I'll continue the story of my relationship with Selina in our golden heart-break!  

7. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Like they say, "Write what you know"! A great piece of art comes directly from the soul, and that's how I view books - as a piece of art that's truly your creation, your expression. I giggle when someone refers to me as an author or writer, as I view myself simply as a chick with a story. We all have one, this just happens to be mine. Luckily I was born with the creative mind to express myself through my art, which I view this book as just that...another piece in my collection of artwork.
But also, to other indie artist/writers out there - remember there's more than one way to skin a cat! And luckily we live in a world where we have so many wonderful options out there to take. If you can't find an agent or publisher to believe in your work and back you, no worries...conventional ways aren't always the best ways. If you hit a roadblock, simply find another route. If you truly believe in your project, nothing should stop you....again, be your own cheerleader and believe in yourself, but do it for the right reasons. Sometimes money itself isn't the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.  It can be a lot more valuable and self-fulfilling to accomplish your goal, or be set free...and that truly is priceless!

Thank you so much, Lisa!


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