I’m interviewing Darla M. Grese, author of “Sister Surrendered”, a memoir. Thanks for answering my questions, Darla. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Please tell us about yourself.
My full name is Darla Michelle Grese. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating High School, my twin sister Kelli and I joined the Navy. We served six fun-filled years as Hospital Corpsman. Once deciding to leave the Navy in pursuit of both new experiences and careers, we decided on making Hampton Roads, Virginia our permanent home. Today I work as a Respiratory Therapist at a local trauma center in addition to television/film acting.
Tell us about your book.
Sister Surrendered is a true story. And it’s a story that I’m told from readers’ through personal notes and reviews, that takes you on an emotional roller coaster, full of twists and turns that’ll make it tricky to stop turning the pages. In the beginning chapters, you’ll laugh as you get to know my twin sister Kelli and I in an intimate way, but later, the story takes a gradual decline into sadness, struggle and tragedy.
What inspired you to write Sister Surrendered?
Writing Sister Surrendered was a personal obligation quite frankly. It’s a book that needed to be written, visiting uncomfortable topics such as depression, addiction, over-prescribing of medications, suicide and grief. It was after Kelli’s inevitable suicide that I came across her journal. In several entries she asked me to share her story, just another testament of her constant desire to help others’ with similar struggles. I actually included some of Kelli’s actual journal entries in the book; something that I felt was a necessity.
How much time per week do you spend writing / editing your work?
Writing this book was an emotionally challenging obstacle, so the time spent each week varied. Certain chapters were easier than others. I began writing on Jan 1st, 2014 and finished in mid-March, which is pretty quick. But it’s on the shorter end, only consisting of a little over 50,000 words, which I did intentionally. People these days are busier than ever and I wanted Sister Surrendered to be a quick and easy read, which I’m told so far, worked.
If you could meet three authors, which authors would you choose?
Christa Parravani for sure, our stories are eerily similar. Steven King because of his incredibly genius mind. And Danielle Steel because she’s inspirational, especially to women everywhere.
What are you working on at the moment?
As far as writing projects go, currently I’m not working on any right now. I promised my son that I’d take a break from my computer and I’m doing my best to keep my word. However, I’m actively pursuing speaking opportunities and book signings, so I encourage anyone to please drop me a note if they know of any opportunity that might be appropriate.
Author: Darla Grese
When you’re a twin, loneliness is somewhat unfamiliar because you’ve always had each other. So when a twin passes, the other is left unprepared. Our loyalty was steadfast and our devotion to one another, solid. Our love was unconditional no matter what the circumstances. I’m so grateful every day for the memories of the joy and laughter that we shared together. I know the bond that Kelli and I shared is impossible for anyone to replace.
This memoir has become something so much more than initially intended. It’s become a documented journey barely scratching the surface of the love between two sisters. And surprisingly, it’s also become an outlet for me to speak candidly and honestly about my struggles with the cause of Kelli’s death. This is a love story turned tragedy. An exposure of one of the greatest healthcare failures killing Veterans and civilians, and a cry for help to remedy the fiasco.
I’ve stressed about who I would mention in this book, nervous that I would hurt someone’s feelings by not mentioning their names. But I’ve realized that it’s impossible to do. Kelli had so many great friends, some I’ve never even met.
I need each person to know who has taken the time to reach out to me in whatever capacity that if it weren’t for your heartfelt show of support and love, I don’t know that I would be able to muster the energy to even get up each day. Kelli, we did it.
Darla M. Grese is a twin sister who lost her better half to side effects from prescribed medication. As a U.S. Navy Veteran, she is an advocate of Veteran X and Veteran Hope programs that address mental illness, PTSD, and unintentional addiction issues. Both programs are sponsored by the Veteran Affairs Medical Center and focus on Veteran recovery and independence. She raises money for Team Kelli and annually participates in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mt. Trashmore in Virginia Beach (http://www.sos-walk.org/sos/). While continuing to bring awareness to this cause, being a loving parent is her favorite passion and the main focus of her life. Darla’s love for the arts has been expressed as a talented actress with appearances in The F.B.I. files, The New Detectives, Diagnosis Unknown, Wicked Attraction, Discovery Channel’s The Haunting, and the movie Atlantis Down. She currently works full time as a respiratory therapist at a trauma center in Norfolk, Virginia.