Sunday, February 17, 2019

Interview with author Timothy Spillane

There are nearly half a million babies born premature every year - find out what Timothy and his family went through in Four Before Their Time

Four Before Their Time

Title: Four Before Their Time

Author: Timothy Spillane
Publisher: Skitterbird, LLC
Pages: 342
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Anne had it all. She was a physician, an Army officer, and a great wife. She’d be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short-lived after an ultrasound reveals that Anne isn’t just pregnant, she’s really pregnant – with quadruplets!

Now her dad, Tim Spillane, is a grandfather four times over, and much too soon. Just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Anne delivered, and not one of Tim’s grandkids weighs more than half a mug of coffee. So underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, the odds of just one of them surviving – let alone all four – are heartbreakingly low. And even if the children pull through, they face the likelihood of disabilities so severe that they’d have no real quality of life. It all seems hopeless until Tim’s wife observes that just seeing the quads is like “being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother’s womb.”

Four Before Their Time is the true story of four babies surviving on a razor’s edge, one mom’s overwhelming and guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and an entire family’s experiences with extreme premature birth. It will take all the faith, hope, and resilience the Spillane family can muster – along with more than a few miracles – just to get the quadruplets home.

  • Four Before Their Time is available at Amazon

What inspired you to write your first book?

Four Before Their Time is my first book. It’s a true story that is almost too remarkable to believe. I think people will be amazed by it. But while the experience it relates – the extreme prematurity of my quadruplet grandchildren and their incredible struggle to survive – is an extraordinary one, the story of how families cope with the ordeals they confront is not. It’s the sharing of those journeys that makes us all stronger. Putting this story out there for other families going through their own difficult time – and believing that it can help them – is what inspired me to write it.

What books have influenced your life the most?

I’ve loved the Book of Psalms since I first started reading them as a teenager. The Psalms’ passionate discourse about finding our way in this world colors the way I view life and, hence, how I write about it.

What are your current projects?

I’m putting a lot of energy into promoting Four Before Their Time. I’ve also just finished designing a new house where my wife and I will move so we can be closer to our grandchildren. The design / build process is like writing in that both are acts of creation. You’re trying to bring something to life that has never been there before.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

It’s funny: When I started to write the book I was terrified I didn’t have enough material. By the time I’d finished the first draft, I had about 600 pages. Through the editing process we cut it down to 400. Some people feel it’s still too long. I think if I started over again I’d see just how close to the bone I could cut the story. It might be even more dramatic that way.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I don’t worry too much about specific criticisms. The toughest thing for me is the editing process. I had some parts of my book edited by three different people, each of whom I respect. When they were finished, I felt as if I couldn’t write a four sentence paragraph without three of the sentences getting marked-up or cut out. It’s hard on the ego.

What has been the best compliment?

I keep this on my phone to read when I need some encouragement. It’s from our next door neighbor who already knew firsthand what our journey with our daughter and grandchildren had been like: “I just finished your book and I do not know what to say. Your book had me in tears so many times. Even as we remotely shared the experience through your communications and conversations, your words brought this to life and had me living the moments.” When what you write gets someone else “living the moments” with you, that’s a big compliment.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Go for it. Pour yourself into it. Believe in your story. Believe in the value of your writing. Storytelling is the thread that sews the tapestry of the human experience together. Never forget that.

What is your favorite quality about yourself?

The most important human quality is compassion. I want to be compassionate. I’d like to be humble, too.

What is your least favorite quality about yourself?

Selfishness. Sometimes I see the world as revolving around me. Thank goodness it doesn’t.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Whether you’re an established writer or just starting out, remember to stick to the story. Sometimes I get so carried away with the craft of writing, or writing about what I want to say, that it’s easy to lose sight of the story. Nothing matters more than the story you have to tell. Everything else just gets in the way. It’s always necessary to keep that in mind.

Tim and his wife live in Chester County, PA and are the parents of three daughters. They became grandparents when their daughter, Anne delivered quadruplets in April, 2010. A graduate of Colorado College (1979) with a degree in English Literature, Tim returned to school to earn his Masters of Public Health from Drexel University in 2005. He has worked in residential construction for more than three decades but is now focusing full-time on his writing. He currently serves on the executive board of Graham’s Foundation, an organization for parents and families going through the journey of prematurity.

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Novel Noise is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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