Home » Author Interviews » Interview with Meryl Ain, co-author of ‘The Living Memories Project’

Interview with Meryl Ain, co-author of ‘The Living Memories Project’

Meryl AinMeryl Ain holds a BA from QueensCollege, a MA from ColumbiaUniversityTeachers College, and an Ed.D. from HofstraUniversity. She began her career in education as a social studies teacher before she became an administrator. She is also a freelance writer specializing in issues related to education, families, parenting, and children and has contributed to Huffington Post, Newsday, the New York Jewish Week and The New York Times. She embarked on The Living Memories Project after she lost both her father and mother within a year-and-a-half. She and her husband Stewart live on Long Island and have three sons, three daughters-in-law and three grandchildren.

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Thanks for stopping by, Meryl. Can you tell us who or what was the inspiration behind your book?

When my mother died after a brief illness in 2006, I was bereft.

Although I knew she had lived a long life, there is never enough time with a loved one. In thinking about how best to remember my mother, I The Living Memories Project 7recalled advice she gave me more than once, “Get yourself a project.” So I decided to write a book — interviewing people about how they keep alive the memories of their loved ones. In doing so, I was hoping to get ideas to help heal myself.

I enlisted the support of my husband, Stewart, and my brother, Arthur, to research and write The Living Memories Project: Legacies That Last. Together we captured the stories of 32 individuals who created tributes – big and small – as living memorials. The project proved to be therapeutic and cathartic; not only did it give us wonderful material, but it turned into an inspiring book and an amazing tribute to my mom.

Is this your first published book and if so, can you tell us your experiences in finding a publisher for it?

After two years of trying to find a publisher, our publisher chose us. She empathized with our loss and understood our project since her mother was dying while she read our manuscript. She decided immediately to publish it.

Where do you live and if I were coming to town, where would we go to talk books?

I live on Long Island. If the weather was nice, we could walk on the boardwalk at Sunken Meadow and talk. Otherwise, a local diner would be fine.

When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax and have fun?

I love to spend time with my family when I’m home. Otherwise, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to see the US as we go around the country speaking about our book.

Do you make a living off your books or do you have another job?

I worked as a teacher and administrator in public schools for many years. At the same time, I always worked as a freelance writer. Now that I’m retired, I am enjoying the publication of our first book.

In your opinion, what makes a good book great?

A great book stays with you forever. You think about it, quote it, and tell friends about it, even years after you’ve read it.

Psychologists tell us the thing we think we’d most like to grow up to be when we’re ten years old is our avocation. What did you want to be?

I always wanted to be a writer, I wrote my first poem in the third grade, and I’ve been writing ever since.

Can you give us a short excerpt from your book?

This is from the first chapter, Death Is Not Fatal, as shared by writer/actor Malachy McCourt, the brother of Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes.

We have an attitude about death in Ireland. It’s not, as I often say, fatal because we keep people alive so much in song and in story. I suppose I’m reluctant to let people go and so therefore have constructed a spirit that stays around to enjoy whatever has to be enjoyed but is freed from the troubles of the world. So you keep them alive by entertaining them – and them entertaining us – by reliving their lives, singing songs, talking about their eccentricities, and therefore they don’t die.

What’s next for you?

We are getting a good response to our book, and hope to do a sequel. People tell us that they appreciate its upbeat and hopeful approach. We are asking our readers to share their own stories of how they keep the memory of their loved ones alive on our website, http://thelivingmemoriesproject.com/

 

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