Meet Paul Toolan, Author of “A View From Memory Hill,” a Collection of Short Stories on Memory, the Past, Ageing, and Loneliness

By Paul Toolan

I live in an English rural village with a demographic weighted towards retirees. I’m one of them, I suppose.

There are young people too, but older bodies tend to fill the shops and the midday streets. I find myself reflecting on these sometimes solitary folk, about their past lives and the people they’ve known. Have they forgotten more than they care to remember – or just forgotten?

The stories in A View from Memory Hill were triggered by such images, nudged along by Kierkegaard’s idea that we live life forward but only really understand it backwards. Their settings come from the everyday world – a chemist’s shop, a village square, a railway station, a College, a pub, the bus journey from work to home – as well as real places. In the first and last stories in the book I used local outdoor settings. The title story is based on Ham Hill, an ancient hill fort in Somerset which I often visit. I take photographs to help me remember!

For perspective, I introduced younger voices too, and enjoyed exploring that sometimes-land of modern misunderstanding, where the old and the young coincide. A range of characters evolved, and broad themes firmed up as I continued to write: memory, the past, ageing, and loneliness – and the positive antidote of choosing to take action to avoid being lonely.

eCover-MemoryHill (1)For structure, I opened and closed the 12 stories with the same pair of characters: Jack – who has Alzheimer’s – and Maeve, his wife.  I guess they are distillations of various articles and documentaries I’d read and seen about dementia, and about Alzheimer’s in particular. Maeve has become Jack’s carer. Alzheimer’s couples may recognise her predicament:

“Jack was sleeping on the day-bed she’d rigged up in the conservatory. When he was bad, any sleep would do. She was Jack’s dictionary now, non-stop, exhausting, the reference book for all the objects, all the people he could no longer name. The butt, too, of each resulting outburst.

‘Do you know nothing?’ he would yell. ‘Nothing?’”

Despite Jack and Maeve’s difficulties, memory still breaks through, and with it, joy and laughter.

In between, the other stories explore the book’s themes through a range of genres, including crime, social satire, gothic noir, and romance, to give a variety of reader experiences.

So far, reviewers have enjoyed these “wonderful insights on ageing”.

“I felt nostalgic when I finished reading,” said one reviewer. “Where have the years gone? So many memories had me a bit emotional, truthfully.”

For me, if I’ve triggered emotion and insight in my readers, on such important themes, then I’m a happy man.

 

Purchase A View from Memory Hill

About the AuthorAuthor photo cropped.jpg

Paul Toolan hails from the United Kingdom, a Northerner who now cheerfully admits being a southern softie living in rural Somerset. After a successful career in Colleges and Universities he wrote book/lyrics for stage musicals, before “turning to crime.”  A Killing Tree and A January Killing, the first two books in the Detective Inspector Zig Batten series, are set in the apple orchard landscape of the West of England. Look out for the third, An Easter Killing. A View from Memory Hill is Paul’s first short story collection, exploring themes of ageing, memory, and personal realisation. Like Inspector Batten, Paul enjoys walking, gardens, fishing, music and the occasional whisky. Unlike him, he enjoys sport and the taste of mushrooms, and loves travelling to sunnier climes – Greece in particular.

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Meet Vicki Kaufmann, Author of “Elegy for Mom, A Memoir of Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and Devotion”

Elegy-for-Mom_BookCvrBy Vicki Kaufmann, MA, MPSt

“Cobwebs in my mind!” was how my mother depicted the disease that ravaged her brain. Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia in May 2000, after episodes of TIA’s and early signs of dementia. She was 82 years of age. This was a major turning point in the life of our family. For me, it was the birth of a challenging new creative phase. Continue reading “Meet Vicki Kaufmann, Author of “Elegy for Mom, A Memoir of Family Caregiving, Alzheimer’s, and Devotion””

Meet Meg Foster, author of “7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers: A Path to Meaning and Hope in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving”

1st 7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers

7 Spiritual Steps – A Journal to Ease the Way

By Meg Foster

According to Alzheimer’s International, globally, there are nearly 44 million people that have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

In America alone, there are 5.3 million living with Alzheimer’s disease. 74% of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias reported that they were “somewhat concerned” to “very concerned” about maintaining their own health since becoming a caregiver.

Certainly these caregivers and their loved ones are in a health care crisis. Continue reading “Meet Meg Foster, author of “7 Spiritual Steps for Caregivers: A Path to Meaning and Hope in Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiving””

Meet Linda Jenkins, Author of “To Helen With Love: A Memoir of a Daughter’s Caregiving Journey”

Cover To Helen With Love_By Linda Jenkins

After five years in the making, writing this memoir has been one of the most intense endeavors I’ve ever taken on, but well worth it.

While I was writing this memoir I discovered how much pain I still had deep inside of me. Pain from some of the experiences. Pain from not knowing what or how to deal with dementia. Pain of not understanding what caregiving entails. Pain from dealing with the healthcare field. Finally, pain when it’s all over. Continue reading “Meet Linda Jenkins, Author of “To Helen With Love: A Memoir of a Daughter’s Caregiving Journey””

Meet Rick Lauber, author of “The Successful Caregiver’s Guide” and “The Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians”

successful caregiver guide2By Rick Lauber

What motivates a writer to write a book? It could be to share a story, educate/help the reader, or to entertain. I wrote both my books to support readers, raise awareness for a growing issue, increase understanding, and also to personally cope. Continue reading “Meet Rick Lauber, author of “The Successful Caregiver’s Guide” and “The Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians””

Mary Ann Drummond Shares Grandma and Me – A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia

By Mary Ann Drummond

Nearly five years ago, after presenting at an Alzheimer’s caregiver conference, a seed was planted in my heart to write a children’s book about Alzheimer’s and dementia. When the conference was over one of the attendees came up to purchase one of my books. As she was leaving she asked if I could recommend a book to help her young child with the changes her family was experiencing since her mother was diagnosed with dementia. I was at a loss. I had been so focused on education for adults that I had not researched current literature for children.

Continue reading “Mary Ann Drummond Shares Grandma and Me – A Kid’s Guide for Alzheimer’s and Dementia”

National Caregiver Appreciation Month eBook Sale & Giveaway November 15-21

Caregiver App Month Canva 2017

November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month, a time to recognize the long hours, sacrifice, and love all caregivers bring to the task of caring for a loved one with dementia or any long-term illness. In honor of their efforts, AlzAuthors is hosting an eBook sale and giveaway! This is a terrific way for caregivers who are looking for knowledge, guidance, and support to find carefully vetted books to help guide and inspire them everyday. Continue reading “National Caregiver Appreciation Month eBook Sale & Giveaway November 15-21”

World Alzheimer’s Month eBook Sale & Giveaway Now through September 30!

September is World Alzheimer’s Month, the international campaign by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) to raise awareness and challenge the stigma that surrounds Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In recognition of  this event, AlzAuthors has put together an eBook sale and giveaway! Continue reading “World Alzheimer’s Month eBook Sale & Giveaway Now through September 30!”

Welcome Sisters Susan Kiser Scarff & Ann Kiser Zultner, Authors of Dementia: The Journey Ahead

51meTGNSoXLBy Susan Kiser Scarff

Within a year of my husband receiving his dementia diagnosis, I had a classic case of caregiver burnout. I couldn’t concentrate at work and most of my time was taken up with worrying about my husband’s uncharacteristic and impulsive behavior. I was petrified and intimidated about the future…overwhelmed with basic day-to-day activities. Continue reading “Welcome Sisters Susan Kiser Scarff & Ann Kiser Zultner, Authors of Dementia: The Journey Ahead”

AlzAuthors Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month eBook Sale! 

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, and today, June 21st is The Longest Day. Sponsored by the Alzheimer’s Association, these important events increase awareness of Alzheimer’s, related dementias, and brain health. In recognition of  these events, AlzAuthors has put together our very first eBook sale! Continue reading “AlzAuthors Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month eBook Sale! “