First, let me thank our lovely Kaye for asking me to join you all today. Kaye, you’re a doll.
Like a cat, I believe I’m probably in life number seven. I started out as an orphan, was an USAF officer’s wife for twenty plus years during which I became a mom, had a career as a professional Middle Eastern belly dancer for another twenty years, was a staff writer for an international dance magazine for ten years, got certified in interior decorating, won some awards for my sculpture designs in leather, was a bagpiper in the St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Montgomery, Alabama, had a short memoir published in 2009, and now my first mystery book, SHE HAD TO KNOW will be released in April. My website is http://cocoihle.com and my book will be available as an e-book, as well.
Waiting on Life's Answers
by Coco Ihle
When you first got the idea for a book, did you realize you couldn’t write it until life gave you more answers? That was my dilemma.
Having been a product of foster care and adoption, my dream was to find my birth family and write a book involving my search. The problem was, it took years to gather little bits of information that were wedged sparingly against the brick walls I ran into and then put them together like a jigsaw puzzle.
My adoptive parents were secretive and my adoption files were sealed, so little information was available until I was “of age.” One day, however, I learned my birth name when my adopted mother had a slip-of-the-tongue. I was successful in finding out some general facts since I’d had the instinct as a toddler to stay in touch with the lady in charge of my placement in the various foster homes in which I resided. She told me I had two sisters and gave me their birth dates, but no names or other details. The laws of the state in which I grew up forbade any disclosure beyond general facts. I was also aware my adoptive parents were sensitive about not being able to have children of their own and I didn’t want to hurt them with my inquiries.
When my adoptive parents died, my adoption documents were in their safe-deposit box. At the age of thirty-six I learned my birth parents’ names and of my first-generation Scots-American heritage.
I wrote letters, made phone calls and hired professionals to help me and even became aware there were scam artists in the world. This renewed search triggered emotions of hope, enthusiasm, exhilaration, disappointment, even—devastation, but giving up was not an option.
More than fifty years went by from the start of my search. Thanks to the ALMA Society, a computer -based nonprofit organization that helps connect families affected by adoption, I found one sister and my book began forming in my mind. I wanted to know more about her; what was important to her, what touched her, how she dealt with the same things I had dealt with.
This information found its way into my book, but since so much of it was sad, I found it difficult to write about and didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for us. After all, we had survived better than some children. So, I found myself reticent when it came time for the sisters to meet in the book, and I left out much of what we faced. It may appear in future books as the sisters learn more about each other, but their relationship is still new in SHE HAD TO KNOW and I preferred to emphasize their joy.
I must be clear my book is fiction, not a memoir. Although there are autobiographical elements in it, I have created a murder mystery out of my rather overactive imagination that sprung from the fantasies of my childhood. In SHE HAD TO KNOW, Arran Hart and her sister Sheena Buchanan nearly lose their lives searching for a treasure and a murderer in a Scottish castle. I hope you enjoy it.
What life issues did you have to experience before you could write your book?