EJ Hanagan is a writer, fitness fanatic, obsessive reader and animal lover. She lives in a sleepy beach town outside of Boston with her husband, their new baby girl and their two giant Newfoundland dogs.
After spending four years in the Air Force, EJ put her fire for fitness to good use and worked as a personal trainer while going to college. If it weren’t for the amazing, brave people that she met while in the military, she wouldn’t have the passion that she does now, to focus on bringing awareness to veterans with PTSD, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Her hope is to bring the invisible scars of war to the surface through her writing and community involvement.
What is your book’s genre/category?
Please describe what the story/book is about.
Jason Barnes is a free spirit. But underneath his fun-loving surface lurks a severe case of PTSD, his personal souvenir from the war on terror. After his young marriage breaks up, he bounces from girlfriend to girlfriend, never allowing himself to get too close, all while maintaining a friendship with his ex-wife, Samantha Colton. His short-lived relationships come to a halt when he meets Abby Jacobsen, a smart and sassy artist. With love comes jealousy, and Abby doesn’t stand for Jason’s cozy friendship with Samantha. Two hours after a heated argument causes Jason to storm out of their apartment in a fury, Abby receives a phone call from the intensive care unit of a New Hampshire hospital.
The hospital walls close in on Abby and Samantha as they are forced to make tough decisions while trying hard not to kill each other. The two form a rare bond when Emma Jane, Jason’s mom, arrives on the scene.
Three weeks after Jason’s accident, Abby is left alone and hovering over a handful of positive pregnancy tests. During the nine months of her pregnancy, Abby works with Samantha to dig up clues of Jason’s past. As the truth is discovered, their lives are irreversibly changed.
An emotionally-moving look at PTSD and the intersection of three lives forever changed, Saving Jason is a riveting glimpse into lives intertwined, unexpected friendships, and the ripples we leave without our knowledge.
How did you come up with the title?
Well, as I was in the middle of writing the first draft, I was so caught up in literally saving the main character both physically and mentally. As luck would have it, I love the name Jason and it sounded best with “Saving.”
What is the reason you wrote this book?
I wrote Saving Jason because for years I had been struggling with seeing a good friend suffer from PTSD. I knew that he was haunted by things that he had witnessed, and that bothered me because it was like he was stuck in his own skin. So, while the story just took on a mind of it’s own, the characters developed as I went along. I initially set out to write it because I wanted to bring awareness about how badly PTSD effects families and relationships.
What is your favorite part of writing?
Creating and getting lost in a world that only exists in my head and being able to share it with everyone. And I love developing my characters’ personalities-even the little habits and quirks.
Writing! There is so much that goes along with being a new author with marketing and putting yourself “out there,” that it’s sometimes hard to remember why you started. Some days it’s hard to just sit down and write. There is also an odd anxiety that goes along with it for me. Sometimes I have too many ideas spinning around in my head and I stress about what to include and what to cut. I luckily don’t have writer’s block too often, so that usually isn’t a problem.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, Jojo Moyes, Heather Huffman. There are so many amazing authors out there. And I love reading new authors too.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you?
My manager, Heather Huffman has influenced me quite a bit. Not only is she an amazing writer and practices what she preaches, but she is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met and she thoroughly believes in my writing. I owe her everything!
Favorite place to write?
Gosh, I really want to say the adorable little writing nook that I set up, but I gotta admit, nothing inspires me more than writing in a Starbucks.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
While I may come off as outgoing and an extrovert, sometimes all I want to do is hide and be alone. Oh, and I’m petrified of getting my blood taken. I pass out nearly every time.
Any surprises or learning experiences with the publishing process?
It is amazing how much work goes into the creation of one book and how many people play a part in getting it out into the world. I’m fascinated with the process and I love the passion in everyone on the team at Booktrope. I think people are generally in this field because they love it, so it never feels like work.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you with this book?
Writing from the two different perspectives was a good decision because it allows the reader to see the two different sides of Jason.
Any advice for writers looking to get published?
I know that this sounds so cliché, but never give up. If you love writing, then keep working at your craft. If you believe in yourself, you are bound to find someone who believes in you.
Where can we find your book?
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on my next novel, Underwater Secrets, due to be released Spring 2015. The story flashes back from today to the 60s and involves a mother/daughter relationship. It involves a bit of mystery, a touch of drama and a lot of love. Stay tuned!
It’s been great having you at The Writing Life today, EJ! Thanks for sharing your book, Saving Jason, and your writing wisdom!
Puerto Rican-born novelist, Eleanor Parker Sapia, was raised in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Eleanor’s life experiences as a counselor, alternative health practitioner, a Spanish language social worker, and a refugee case worker inspire her stories. When Eleanor is not writing, she facilitates creativity groups, and is making plans to walk El Camino de Santiago de Compostela a second time.
A Decent Woman is her debut historical novel. Eleanor is the mother of two adult children, and she currently lives in West Virginia.
A DECENT WOMAN available now on Amazon
Ponce, Puerto Rico, at the turn of the century: Ana Belén Opaku, an Afro-Cuban born into slavery, is a proud midwife with a tempestuous past. After testifying at an infanticide trial, Ana is forced to reveal a dark secret from her past, but continues to hide an even more sinister one. Pitted against the parish priest, Padre Vicénte, and young Doctór Héctor Rivera, Ana must battle to preserve her twenty-five year career as the only midwife in La Playa.
Serafina is a respectable young widow with two small children, who marries an older wealthy merchant from a distinguished family. A crime against Serafina during her last pregnancy forever bonds her to Ana in an ill-conceived plan to avoid a scandal and preserve Serafina’s honor.
Set against the combustive backdrop of a chauvinistic society, where women are treated as possessions, A Decent Woman is the provocative story of these two women as they battle for their dignity and for love against the pain of betrayal and social change.