Thursday, November 13, 2008

Author Auth Reveals Emmy's Question

Jeannine Auth was at her computer making final revisions to an historical novel she’d been working on for almost five years when she felt a tap on her shoulder.


Her granddaughter, Emily, who was ten at the time, plopped her diary on Jeannine’s desk and said, “Grannie, I’ve been thinking about this. You’re a writer. I want you to take my diary and make a book out of it so other kids like me—other children of alcoholics—will know they’re not alone. They need to know they can still be okay even if their parent doesn’t get well. But they’ve got to know to ask somebody for help.”

Jeannine flipped through the journal pages filled with shame, bewilderment, and anger--but also love and hope. Right then, she filed the historical novel away in the bottom of a filing cabinet, and Emmy’s Question was born. Although inspired by the writing and drawings in Emily’s diary, the story has been fictionalized to include experiences of other children of alcoholics as well. There are over 11 million children under the age of eighteen in the U.S. who have an alcoholic parent–not counting kids whose parents are drug-addicted. These children for the most part don’t have a voice and do not get help. They live in a culture of shame, denial, “don’t tell”, and isolation. Having worked through her own pain and understanding, “Emmy” became their voice.

Jeannine devoted the next two years to writing Emmy’s Question. The title came from Emily’s struggle to answer the question: How could Mommie choose wine over me?  Her ultimate understanding that she could find the best in herself in spite of her parent’s alcoholism is a message of hope to any child living under the cloud of  parental addiction. The book is carefully researched, and won the endorsement of the Betty Ford Center prior to publication. Jerry Moe, the Children’s Program Director for Betty Ford, critiqued the manuscript to ensure that information and messages presented were in keeping with current-day understanding of the special needs of these children.

Emmy’s Question has won a number of prestigious awards and multiple endorsements. It was published by Morningtide Press, a small independent publishing company owned by Jeannine and her husband, Dennis.  The book is available through bookstores nationwide and all on-line booksellers. It is being used in counseling practices, schools, and rehab centers. She hopes to complete a sequel to Emmy’s Question over the next year, as well as resuming work on her earlier novel.


Jeannine stressed the need for aspiring writers to study and learn the craft of writing. She advised the group on some do’s and don’ts of the writing trade and suggested several books she found especially helpful. These books include:

The Craft of Writing, William Sloane

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Browne & King

The Art of Fiction, John Gardner

Makely Shapely Fiction, Jerome Stern

The Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Bird by Bird, Ann Lamott

Members and guests gathered around Jeannine after the program concluded to ask questions. Jeannine graciously offered sage advice to those hoping to break into the publishing field.

By Ron Moore, Member First Coast Christian Writers

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