Thursday, March 18, 2010

Guest Author: Heath Sommer

Heath Sommer, author of The Manufactured Identity, has been kind enough to stop by Reading with Tequila to tell us how he manages being both a writer and a people-pleaser.

On Pleasing Part of the People None of the Time, and Other Random Thoughts

So I’m a pleaser. Always have been. Probably always will be. As early as the time when I was just tall enough that when sitting on my parent’s couch my feet could only dangle teasingly above the carpet I have been sad and worried about lonely people and the depressed. It just bothers me sometimes to know that my good life lives in the shadow of so much pain and misery. The good news is that as a clinical psychologist, I have had ample time to think and reflect on a healthy balance between nurturance of self and others, and I am no longer plagued by such endless self-defeating inner monologues about whether we can go to the movies without inviting Beth (and of course Beth’s roommate who would be sad if we didn’t invite her too, etc) ...

...Then I started writing. At first it was a hobby. I had a great teacher in my freshman year of college (her name was Ginny) who knew I was a psychology major, and she promptly instructed me that my gift in life was writing and I should immediately declare a new major. I smiled, thanked her, but told her I valued mortality so I was going to stick with a degree that had at least a chance of earning something that I could exchange for such things as food and electricity! Ginny, being wiser and more patient than me, allowed me to take a detour from writing, but it later found me, as I believe it does most of us who are born with the fire for adverbs and diatribe.

I came back a few years later and a lot more willing to fail to Ginny and told her she was right, writing was who I am, and showed her some work. She told me it was really well done and that I should try to publish it, but also gave me a thought I cannot seem to get away from to this day. “Heath,” she said, “you are one of the more blunt writers I have ever read. Don’t go away from that.”

I don’t think I truly appreciated what she meant until the publication of my first novel, The Manufactured Identity, which came to press last year. While I’ve never been into the types of explicit words or linguistic scenery that my daughter would haul me into a priest over, my first novel is a thriller that is unabashedly mental health from page one to the end, and so is full of very tough and very real scenes that has drawn commonly either extreme praise or extreme disgust from the critics—which for a while threw me for a surprise that there were not a lot of “middle-grounders” when it came to my work. I guess it never fully dawned on me that if my own father thinks mental health is a farce while other members of my family are secretly on Prozac, than maybe that would be dramatic foreshadowing for how my novels might be received!

And so I’ve learned, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people wildly while disappointing others by pointing out things in life that aren’t easy for us, especially sometimes in America, to talk about. Fatherlessness, pain, self-discovery, murder, abuse, but also triumph, nostalgia, tenderness, and quiet victories. And so this is the writer I suppose I have become, and I am learning, loving, cherishing, and enjoying every minute of it.

It is an odd thing to write, I think. Much more intimate and much more exposing than so many other forms of media, because when you write, readers all around the world are privately with you, in your own mind. And since I am a therapist at heart, my readers are also with the now thousands of patients I have heard tell different versions of what it is like to spend fifty to ninety years as one of seven billion people trying to follow a script for how the world turns. Somehow, I have been blessed enough to get another two books to be released and have won some accolades for The Manufactured Identity, so someone out there is like me, and what a wonderful and humbling thing that is to discover.

In parting, I am grateful to the many of you who have been so kind as to share part of your life and comments with me, and I might just say back that for those of you who wonder if the world is looking for someone like you to speak what you really think, probably not, but a lot of people like me are, so lift up your pen and share with us your two cents. We are waiting, and maybe it isn’t so important that everyone understands, as long as those looking for it do. Till then...

Heath Sommer

P.S. Many thanks to Jennifer for her very review of The Manufactured Identity and for allowing me to guest blog on her fabulous site which has grown astronomically over the last several months, you are doing much good for many readers and writers...we appreciate you!

About the Author

Doctor Heath Sommer earned his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Idaho State University, a program recognized and accredited by the American Psychological Association. He has also earned both a Masters and Bachelors degree in psychology, and an additional Bachelors degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. A native of Sacramento, California, Dr. Sommer has enjoyed opportunities to present his research at national conventions including The Association for the Advancement of Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy and the American Psychological Association. He has also published in recognized Journals such as The Journal for Child and Adolescent Psychology, and his work has been cited in both Prevention and Best Life magazines.

Dr. Sommer’s fiction writing career formally began in June 2009 with the publication of his first suspense/mystery novel The Manufactured Identity. Surprising critics with its intense plot twists and thoroughly human characters, Sommer was contracted to produce two more books in The Manufactured Identity series. The first of these, The Grand Delusion, will be released in the summer of 2010 with the third novel, The Human Obsession, to be released a few months after. Dr. Sommer is currently working on an independent fiction storyline about a mall shooting, as well as some nonfiction work.

About the Book

Months after his mysterious disappearance from a routine fishing trip, no one really expects over-the-hill Texas housewife Lory Latchley to find her missing husband especially her husband. The Manufactured Identity is clinical psychologist Heath Sommer's ever-escalating immersion into the world of unlikely friends who each awaken to find their faithful companions missing without warning or reason. Desperate to find meaning in their pain, they are thrust by the auspices of fate into a common thread of mystery and human frailty. In the end, the fate of all may reside in the unstable hands of rookie pastor John Joe, but ultimately Lory and her newfound partners will uncover a truth so unnerving it makes even infidelity look palatable.

The Manufactured Identity on Amazon
Heath Sommer's website 

Reading with Tequila's review of The Manufactured Identity

3 comments :

  1. Jennifer, thanks for having Heath Sommer as your guest author. I put this one in my calendar so I didn't miss it.

    H. Sommer, I LOVED Manufactured Identity, I thought it was brilliant. Here is my review..

    http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com/search?q=manufactured+identity

    I agree on your statement readers are privately with you in your mind, I felt that at times. I totally enjoyed feeling like I was on the other side of a glass window looking in during the sessions.

    LOVED IT

    I look forward to your future works.

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  2. Are you aware of the Book Bloggers and Publishers Online Conference this weekend? http://bbpcon.blogspot.com/

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  3. Wow, this sounds like such an interesting book. Psychology is so fascinating to learn about, especially in a book. I'll be looking out for this one!

    Emidy
    from Une Parole

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