Like most of us, the women in author Sarah Willis? world must
cope with the bumps and bruises of life while searching for its
In her first novel, ?Some Things That Stay,? published four
years ago, a teen-ager comes of age as she grapples with her
mother?s tuberculosis and her father?s distant demeanor. In ?The
Rehearsal,? released the following year, a stay-at-home mom finds
her voice in the 1970s.
�A Good Distance,? to be published next month by Berkley,
centers on a woman watching her mother succumb to Alzheimer?s
disease as she confronts the unresolved issues in their
?he tale is particularly poignant for the Cleveland Heights
author, who lost her mother to lung cancer last summer. ?A Good
Distance? is dedicated to her.
?My mom was always one of my greatest fans and supporters,? says
Willis, 49. ?I was able to share the story with her before she
jillis shaped the character of Rose by asking her mother
about her interests and concerns. ?Although the book is not the
story of my mother?s life, it?s my mother?s timeline,? she
A stay-at-home mom who enjoyed penning poetry and short stories,
Willis didn?t think she was cut out to write books until she
enrolled in several writing classes at Cleveland State University.
In 1990, one of her short stories won first place in a
creative-writing contest and was published in hiskey Island,
CSU?s literary magazine.
�rom that moment on, she quit watching television and
wrote six nights a week, at least three hours a night, for the next
10 years. ?I was going to be a writer no matter what,? she
Willis won the Cleveland �rts Prize for Literature for
?Some Things That Stay,? as well as the Book-of-the-Month Club?s
Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction. Currently, Canada?s
Ladyhawke Venture is making the story into an independent film.
Even so, Willis has kept her day job, clerking at the
?As exciting a life as I am having, it?s not as financially
rewarding as many people seem to think,? she says. ?It?s been a
struggle ? but such a joy. I love the process of writing. There?s
not a moment that I don?t sit down at the typewriter and within two
minutes I?m lost. And the next thing, I?m looking up and it?s hours
?I really have a close bond with my characters. They?re with me
all the time in one way or another.?