The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Eric Lindner

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Eric Lindner

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Summary: Jill thought that Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life by Eric Lindner was touching, illuminating and uplifting. She was delighted when the author popped in to chat to us.
Date: October 2013
Interviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy

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Jill thought that Hospice Voices: Lessons for Living at the End of Life by Eric Lindner was touching, illuminating and uplifting. She was delighted when the author popped in to chat to us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Eric Lindner: A person who knows they can get much more out of life, qualitatively (however long they feel they might have, quantitatively) by being of (greater) service to someone (be it a loved one or a stranger), but isn't sure it they're up to the task.

  • BB: Your book is a powerful piece of advocacy for both the hospice movement itself and for the volunteers within it. How important is the movement for those approaching the end of their lives?

EL: Thank you...

It's hard for me to say how important the movement is, in the way it was for David Tasma, who donated that vital first £500 to Dame Cicely Saunders...

But I do suspect that many fine souls wish others could experience hospice, and are sad by how many are not...

I think the hospice movement is very important. It has come a long way since London, 1967

But I--much more importantly, many veteran professionals--say a lot more can be done, in the areas of (e.g.) bereavement, and non-somatic pain management.

  • BB: Had you thought about getting involved before you walked into an office that day?

EL: No. Involved in some other volunteer capacity, yes. But not in hospice.

  • BB: If you could give just one piece of advice to people considering becoming hospice volunteers, what would it be?

EL: Think about a time your heart has swelled and your spirit has soared--because some trifle you did helped someone; a lot.

Now multiply that a hundredfold...and this is some sense of how you're likely to feel during and/or after every single patient visit.

  • BB: You wrote very movingly about your daughter's own health scare. How is Sarah today?

EL: Sarah's superb docs have given her a 100% clean bill of health. Thank you for your kind words and especially consideration.

  • BB: How did you come to decide to put your experiences into a book?

EL: My wife and our two closest friends/neighbors heard a few of my stories over dinner one evening in 2010, and urged me to put pen to paper.

But feeling I needed a cold, hard, objective, professional opinion, I banged out two draft chapters, and sent them to Alexandra Shelley - who did far more than just editing the acclaimed The Help - she played a big role in the novel's entire architecture and then found an agent for debut author Kathyrn Stockett – for advice. Alexandra is lovely, but also legendarily parsimonious in her praise. This might just work, she said. For her, that was gushing praise, or at least enough encouragement to get me to commit...

  • BB: And how did you find the process of writing it?

EL: Sometimes great fun, when I was 'in the Zone.' But much more often laborious, and tedious--especially the ego-scorching editing, and the brain-numbing (but understandably important) legalisms associated with U.S. privacy laws, most but not all related to the Orwellian sounding Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

  • BB: What would you say to other people thinking of putting their own important life experiences into a book?

EL: If as a personal/intimate keepsake--by all means...

If hoping to sell some books, if (a) the experience is meaningful, and (b) seems to resonate with those/someone whose objective opinion(s) can be relied on--by all means: go for it.

But gird thy loins!

  • BB: What would be your desert island book? (You can only pick one, mind!)

EL: if STRANDED on a desert island, then as G.K. Chesterton's answer to this question is (not surprisingly) far more brilliant and clever than my own:

Why, A Practical Guide to Shipbuilding, of course.

  • BB: What's next for Eric Lindner?

EL: TBD!

  • BB: Thanks for chatting to us, Eric!

You can read more about Eric Lindner here.

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