I am a veterinarian and writer living in California in the United States. I have been a veterinarian for thirteen years. I am in the process of writing a series of short books about medical problems in dogs and cats entitled My Virtual Veterinarian. The first book in the series will be published soon and will be entitled Allergies In Dogs: How Can You Stop The Scratching And Chewing?
I would like to invite you to subscribe to my blog http://rachelebaker.com where I have answered a number of veterinary questions on my Ask The Vet as well as written articles on veterinary medical topics. As I write each chapter of my book about allergies in dogs, I will be writing blog posts related to that chapter. The first chapter of my book that I have written is about the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids for allergic dogs and I have a blog post on my site about that subject.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a large old New England house on a couple of acres in rural Vermont with one brother and one sister. We had a large garden. We went apple picking in the fall. We had "sugar on snow" with the fresh crop of maple syrup from local farms in the spring. My mother canned and froze fresh fruits and vegetables for us to eat during the long winters.
We had a barn in back of our house with a horse stall and a saddle in it. I used to sit in that saddle perched on the side of the stall and pretend that I had a real horse. I read every single horse book in our local library. I loved to read. We had dogs and cats for companionship.
My favorite childhood memories were when we went to "Grandpa's Farm." He had several hundred acres of rural land in southern Vermont which included fields, forests, and a small pond. We used to ride in his jeep up the hill to the pond and go swimming. There were large patches of blueberries at the top of the hill which we would pick and eat.
I think that my childhood gave me an appreciation for the simple things in life, for good wholesome fresh food, for the companionship of animals, and for the joy of reading and writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My book is Eighteen Months To Live which is the real life story of my mother, Midge Rylander, in her final months of life after a diagnosis with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Here is the story behind my book.
One day when I was organizing and cleaning my garage, I decided to look in a box of memorabilia I stored there. I hadn’t looked in the box for many years. The box contained drawings and stories written by my daughter when she was young as well as some things I had written and drawn when I was a little girl.
As I was looking through my memorabilia box, I came upon my mother’s handwritten journal. Her journal was very prominent in the box because she kept it in a bright orange binder. In addition to my mother’s journal, I found a large stack of letters that she had written me during her final months of life. I hadn’t looked at my mother’s journal since immediately after her death. I started reading my mother’s journal for the second time and I realized that she wanted her journal published so that her story could help and inspire others. I then spent months transcribing my mother’s handwritten journal and letters and finally published them in my book Eighteen Months To Live.
Transcribing my mother’s journal was a very emotional experience for me. It made the last months of my mother’s life and everything she experienced fresh and real and very painful. I often experienced actual pain in my entire chest while I was transcribing her journal and letters. Sometimes I had trouble breathing. But I diligently kept transcribing until I had transcribed everything that she wrote. Then I wrote the heartfelt prologue, epilogue, and narration.
The book vividly documents my mother’s personal struggles and her search for answers during that time. Despite her diagnosis, her strength of spirit allowed her to find joy in the simple things around her and to appreciate each day of life that she had left to live.