The inspiration behind any story is key, and in the case of Thirteen Months this came from an experience that altered my life.
Obviously, fiction is different. It may or may not be based on life experiences. When writing fiction, even if personal experiences starts the author on a path, specific issues within the story must be well researched in order for the author to approach it from an internal perspective.
When I started writing Thirteen Months, I needed to tell Gwen’s story in light of God’s faithfulness through her suffering—not to emphasize the suffering, but as a testimony of God’s grace.
The wounds were so fresh at the outset I needed to set myself apart—to go somewhere that I could collect my thoughts and convert them into words.
I returned to New York City to the apartment Gwen and I shared during that last year of her life—the year of chemotherapy. It was difficult, but it was where I needed to be. Memories of painful evenings we’d spent together in that apartment were interspersed with wonderful times.
I travelled to New York many times that year, spending four days each time. Mornings began with a run in Central Park, then back to the apartment to write all day—12 to 14 hours. Toward the end of the writing process, my editor strongly encouraged me to write more about my personal struggles in facing terminal illness with Gwen. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
It was humbling to share my heart with people who don’t know me, and even more so with those who do. But only God can overcome great heartache. Only He can make sense out of the pain we endure.
We need only to trust Him completely—the triumph of faith is the reward.