Interview with author Phil Nork

Interview with Fran Lewis

In writing this book you wanted to find your own voice and your own identity? What made you take the first step to writing this book and trying to reveal who you really are to everyone?

A few years back I moved my family from the Midwest to Nevada. Shortly after moving into our new house, I started having dreams—very vivid dreams—of my past. They were so lifelike and real it felt like I was being transported back in time. On business trips I couldn’t sleep, so I started keeping a journal of these dreams. As I awoke and wrote down the things and people I dreamt about, I realized there must be a reason why this kept happening. After I got all the “lessons” written down, the dreams stopped. I knew I was on the right path. I believe this was closure for me for the things I had experienced in the past. And once all my feelings were written down I felt much more comfortable with myself. I believe the move ended my one life, but began a new one. Hence, “There are no endings, just new beginnings.”

What are some of main lessons that you hope readers take away from reading your insightful novel?

That the little things you do in life always affect someone—whether you know it or not. We are really all the same inside, we want to be accepted for who we are and we want to be happy (whatever that means to each individual). But along the way, the people who you encounter can influence you to go against your better judgment sometimes. Even if you do, the God you choose to follow understands. That God never leaves you, although you may think differently. Look for the good in people and trust in them…in the long run it does work out.

As I read your book I realized that there were many different voices that came through of many people that entered and left your life? Which voices were the strongest and made lasting impressions on you and why?

In the early part of my life my mother and great-grandmother (Nana) became my heroes. My mom in particular could have just stopped living after the divorce, but she kept going, no matter how hard it was. She wanted me to have a normal childhood. Later, the most influential person I met was “Joyce”. She was a lesbian who trusted her secret with me. I learned from her, and her friends, that we are all the same, just in different packages. She allowed my inner confidence to blossom. I don’t know where I’d be without meeting her.

What was your relationship with Nana that tied you to her so much? What was it about her that helped to center you and bring about your many positive changes?

I think that she understood my feelings the best. I was able to talk to her so freely. She respected who I was and wanted me to know that she and God were there for me. She knew the divorce had changed my outward appearance from one of fun-loving to one of feeling lost and alone, but buried deep down the “old” me was still there. It was a long time before I was able to see that.

Which one of the many girls that you met helped you to realize who you really are?

I don’t think that any of them did at the time. Each one brought something new to the table and made me feel alive while I knew them. I believe that all of them came into my life just when they did to help me grow as a person. When you add all of those components together, that’s what made me the person I am today.

Why did you agree to go along with “Kayla” and her plan?

At the time, I was enjoying what I did and really thought I was helping them out. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have followed her lead.

Have you kept in touch with any of these girls/ women along the way? If so which one/ones and why?

The characters in the book are all based on real females I knew. All the names were changed “to protect the innocent” (if there were any). I do still know and talk to some of them. “Lisa” and I are still friends after 40 some years. Others, (most of them) were just passing through on their own journey of self-discovery. In fact, Facebook has reunited me with some of these ladies.

What was your relationship with your mother and your siblings? You mother must have had her own thoughts about what you were doing. Did she know what you really did each day? What did she really feel or think?

My mom was so busy trying to make ends meet, that she had no idea what I did. She saw the lonely kid at home staying to himself being absorbed into music and books. So when I did start going out and found a “second home” at the skating rink, she was just happy I did. She never knew what I was going through until she read the manuscript of this book a few years back. It opened some new doors and some new conversations which just further developed our relationship. My brother and sister were too young to know any better.

“Joyce” made a real impact in your life. Why were you able to open up to her?

She actually broached the whole relationship. She saw I was hurting and having those same feelings reached out to me. When she told me about being a lesbian, she was taking a great risk. When I didn’t tell anyone she realized I was trustworthy and as we worked more together we became great friends. After meeting her friends and accepting them for who they were, our friendship continued to grow. She was the one who taught me “we all can get along.”

What was the real turning point when you realized that it was time to make yourself happy and not just everyone else?

It was after meeting “Cheryl.” I wanted so much to find one girl and have a meaningful relationship, but never could because of these expectations that I thought the girls had in me. Meeting her, and the situation which arose, made me realize that the things that I did wasn’t helping my cause at all. She made me think hard about what I was doing.

Why is it that every time you decided to stop going out at night and not continue on with what you were doing you gave in to someone who called or saw you and approached you to “Make them feel good or happy?”

As any adolescent will tell you, “I loved the attention.”

At any time did you feel that you were being used and you were using them?

Not until after it was all said and done. During this growing up phase all I thought about was how fun it was to be “popular.” As I grew older, and quite possibly not until the dreams started in Nevada, did I realize that these little trysts of my past may not have been as innocent as I thought.

Why do you feel or how do you feel young adults and teens can learn some positive lessons from reading your book and the many messages you teach your readers?

We all have self doubt growing up. We do what we think is right or what others want us to do to fit in (peer pressure). I believe if you have a good foundation that good is the only thing that can emerge. I know other kids of divorce feel depressed and alone. I know that when you’re the “new kid on the block” or you feel different from the norm that you try your best to ignore those feelings or do things against your will that allow you be accepted. What I’m saying is that whoever you are, whatever you believe in and whatever you do, you are special just being you. Although you may not feel that way when you’re young reconnecting with old friends on Facebook has allowed all of us to see that we all felt the same way—we all felt different, we all felt afraid and we all had self-doubt. Hence the saying, “I wish I knew then, what I know now.” Sometimes life does give you a second chance.

One important lesson that I feel should, and must be imparted to everyone. is that outer appearances only help people to tell the difference between you and everyone else. It is your outer shell and not who you really are as a person. Why do you think that people judge others by how handsome/pretty they are or if they are overweight/thin or a perfect TEN? What do you think are the real attributes that make you unique and who you really are?

I’m nothing special and I’m no expert in relationships or why people do what they do. What I can say is that society puts unnecessary burdens on everyone—none more than the young. TV and movies dictate what you look like, what you should do and who you should be seen around. In my mind, success is not what you do for living, what kind of car you have parked in your driveway, or how many “toys” you have. Real success comes from learning, sharing and helping. Life is an on-going journey. You must learn something new everyday, share that with those around you and help those who can’t help themselves. When you do this, regardless of how you get to that point, you have succeeded in life.

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