An Interview with Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana: Author, Journalist & Entrepreneur
Sylvia: Welcome Marisa. So pleased to interview you. Please give our readers an introduction of yourself and a little about your book.
Marisa: Hi Sylvia. My name is Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana and I am a freelance journalist, author of Lupus: Real Life, Real Patients, Real Talk and founder of www.LupusSurvivalGuide.com. I am also a Lupus patient and board member for the Lupus Foundation of America, Southeast Chapter.
I first created the outline for this book because I saw a need for patients, especially those who are newly diagnosed, regarding how to deal with the daily struggles of life when you are living with a chronic and potentially fatal illness. While there are some incredible medical-focused books on the market about Lupus, there was a disconnect between patients and useful information on how to deal with the disease on a daily basis. This book explores how a young man balances school, teenage years and getting dialysis and chemotherapy; it talks about the young newlywed who is trying to juggle marriage, her career and becoming so ill, she can barely take care of herself; and how an older woman handles the loss of her home and career after becoming diagnosed with Lupus.
This book tells the true stories of Lupus patients around the world – all ages, gender, religions, ethnic groups, etc. The stories are inspirational, honest and offer tangible information for other patients. Another added feature is the “Perspective Highlight” sections that share true stories of caregivers, physicians, parents and spouses of Lupus patients. They candidly speak about their role as a caregiver and how they have found balance in that role.
Sylvia: First, thank you for your thoughtfulness in writing this book to educate others who are diagnosed or need information on this dreadful illness. What inspired you to write your first book?
Marisa: Honestly, several events and realities inspired this book. First, I wanted to create awareness for Lupus. During the twelve years since my diagnosis, I have continued to see how little the disease is discussed and taken seriously. Most people are shocked to learn that more people have Lupus than AIDS, Sickle Cell, Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Sclerosis combined! With that being said, you can understand my frustration regarding how seldom the disease is publicized. Wanting to share my personal story and the stories of some incredible men and women who I have met through the years also inspired the book.
Sylvia: Wow, now I did not know that. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Marisa: I think most people who read this book, whether or not they have a chronic illness, will grasp the message of hope, the refusal to give up, and the desire to focus on having a positive attitude, even when your circumstances look grim. Even though all of the stories are completely different, there is coherent message throughout each one that shouts, “Through all of this, I continued to fight and persevered!”
Sylvia: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Marisa: If you have an idea or storyline that you are passionate about, start writing – even if it is a paragraph or a page at a time. Once you begin to see your book take shape, you will be amazed at the fire it lights within you. I promise, you will not be able to put your pen (or keyboard) down!
Marisa: If your book’s audience is a specific niche, then I would begin by reaching out to that community. In my case, I specifically marketed to Lupus patients, chat rooms, organizations, etc. I also promoted it via social media venues and offered giveaways during the first few weeks. To enter the giveaway, the individual would have to share it on their social media accounts. This was a fast and free ways to spread the word. I also use a website called Fiverr.com, where you can get people with large Twitter, Facebook and blog audiences to review and/or share your book for only five dollars! It is a cheap, fast and effective way to spread the word. I notice an increase in book sales any time I use that website. Also, allow readers to be able to preview several chapters before purchasing the book. You can even release a few chapters via your social media accounts before the book is about to be released – this creates buzz for your book.
Sylvia: Now that is great information, the Fiverr.com site. Why should we buy your book?
Marisa: You should buy this book if you or someone you love is battling a chronic disease and needs tangible information on how to navigate the choppy waters of illness while trying to handle the activities of daily life – marriage, career, children, etc. No matter what autoimmune or chronic illness you might be suffering from, these inspirational and uplifting stories will help encourage you during the difficult times…the times when you feel completely alone. There are people out there who know exactly what you are going through and they want to help you and reach out to you. This book introduces you to those people.
Sylvia: Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?
Marisa: My favorite spot is my bed – mainly because it is completely surrounded by windows that overlook Lake Ontario. My chaise lounge comes in a close second – there is usually a battle for that spot though, because it molds to your body and is extremely comfortable!
Sylvia: Sounds inviting! What projects are you currently working on?
Marisa: Currently, I have a memoir in progress and a second Lupus book that is more of a “survival guide.”
Sylvia: What is your POWER WORD? Why this word?
Marisa: My power word is “grateful.” It describes an attitude that I personally try to express everyday (even during hard times). Enduring my own struggles with illness and reading stories of other men and women, I am continually reminded of how much we all have to be grateful for every day. Just waking up in the morning, being able to dress yourself, having food on the table and a roof over your head – if you have that, you have more than millions of other people in this world.
Illness can test your patience and wreak havoc on your mental state and can often propel you into a world of worry and anxiety. When you live in that state of mind, it is difficult to see the good things that are happening in your life. I think an easy way to achieve this attitude on a daily basis is to keep a small journal of the simple things that have occurred each day that you are grateful for. Today, I am grateful that you allowed me to share my story with your readers. Thank you, Sylvia.
Sylvia: You are so welcome. It has been a pleasure… thank you as well! Please share your social media and book contact information.
Marisa: Certainly, my pleasure.
- Website: www.LupusSurvivalGuide.com
- Amazon Book Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CL13F6W
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LupusSurvivalGuide?ref=hl