Lynn McLaughlin Interview Published on: 26, Feb 2020

Where did you grow up as a child? What was your favourite holiday as a child and why?

I grew up on the outskirts of McGregor, a small town in Southern Ontario. When I was in grade 4, we moved two times and I attended three different schools that year. For a few months that year, we lived with our cousins in Wheatly, Ontario. There were 9 of us between the ages of 4 and 11. I will never forget that Christmas morning. Imagine nine children excitedly sneaking around before dawn, thinking we were fooling our parents. The gifts under the tree came right to the door of the room. Christmas was my mom's favourite time of year and I follow in her footsteps because it brings are families together.

What did being an author mean to you as a child? What does it mean to you now?

I was always an avid reader. I loved writing and entered contests in my elementary school. "Our Little House" from the perspective of the oldest of four children in a single parent household was a winner when I was in grade 7 and I think what ignited my love of writing. I cherish the journals I wrote through high school until today.

What was the first memoir you ever read and how did it change you?

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. It opened up a world of which I had limited understanding of. The horrors of what was happening on the other side of the world became real because of the author's talent in telling the story.

What is "Steering Through It' about? How did you come up with this name?

The book was written and had been formally edited. There were at least three titles but I was not happy with any of them. "Steering Through It' came as a result of a conversation between my husband and I while commuting one day. The title then lead to renaming chapter headings and linking the theme of sailing throughout the book. The design of the cover then began, with a talented artist (Sari Richter). The cover says it all!

Since how long have you been a member of 100 Women Who Care Windsor/Essex?

I joined 100 Women Who Care in 2018 after hearing about it from a friend. We make an immediate postiive impact in our neighbourhoods.

Why did you decide to retire from being the Superintendent of Education with the Greater Essex County District School Board in September of 2018?

That is not an easy question. I loved my position and was inspired by the difference my team was making for our students, staff and families. It was becoming more and more challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle after I returned to work following my illness. I promised myself and my family that my health would be a priority. Although I don't dwell on it, I know there is a chance of a brain tumour recurence, which keeps me grounded. My career was very important to me but it does not identify me as a person. I am very active, have begun my own business, hosting a podcast called, "Taking the Helm", public speaking and loving every minute.

How was your experience of completing your first Detroit International 1/2 Marathon in November 2019?

Incredibly emotional! I was very committed to training for six months prior to the event but was still uncertain about whether or not I would be able to meet my goal. Rounding the bend for the last 1/2 mile was overwhelmingly triumpant and emotional. I joined my team members, all of whom crossed the finish line despite challenges.

What challenges do your face while teaching future Educational Assistants at St. Clair College?

I love teaching and was excited to be back with a group of students again. It's a very big part of who I am. My only challenge was learning the policies and procedures of the college.

What sparked the idea for "Steering Through It: Navigating Life-Threatening Illness...Acceptance, Survival and Healing?"

I began journalling when I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Those journals kept me sane throughout the repeated triumphs and failures. A year after my surgery, it was very clear to me that my family and I could help others going through a life changing event.

How difficult it was to share your most personal thoughts, fears and triumphs over the most challenging year of your life with your readers?

My personal "story" is not difficult to share at all. There are countless life lessons that I speak about now, hoping to guide others to make decisions today, rather than waiting for that moment when life stops. It was the experiences of my family that were first difficult to share. Until they wrote about it, I really had no idea what had been happening behind the scenes. It was truly moving.

What kind of takeaway do you want your readers to get from readings your books based on issues that impact the search for justice and equal opportunity in the modern world?

Advocacy! We have to advocate for ourselves and if we are caring for someone who is not in the position to do so, then we must act on their behalf. We should first, understand the diagnosis and treatment options. Only do research on reputable medical based sites. There are many "words of advice" throughout the book.

How did you keep up your mental and emotional strength while dealing with and surviving a brain tumour?

I wouldn't let myself attack it in any other way. I kept negativity away and welcomed anything that anyone wanted to offer. Even if I was not feeling up to it, when someone wanted to visit, I opened the door. I set daily goals which were very small. After each week, the growth/change was incredibly celebratory. One small step at a time.

How do you think concepts such as Kindle, and e-books have changed the present or future of reading?

Books are more accessible. We can order them from the comfort of our own home. They are less expensive than paperbacks or hardcovers.

What book ideas are you currently working on?

My second book is about to go into the cover design stage and the release date will be early this summer. It's very different thank Steering Through It and I know is going to change lives! It's a very exciting time when something you have been working on for so long is coming to fruition! I will begin planning the launch in April.

Finally. what intrigued you most about the AllAuthor website? As a premium member now, have your thoughts about it changed?

A fellow writer recommended it. I had never heard of it before. There are many options, some of which I am not taking full advantage of. I love the mockups that I recieve monthy, with the option of flagging the ones I like out of the multitude of options. The seasonal and magic tool are very unique as well. I have been asked to "pilot" or "research" things before they are launched and provide feedback, which is fun to do as an author. The Magic Tool was one example. The GIFs, Tweets, video banners - many options available to us. Also, our facebook group is interactive and within a very short period of time, when someone asks a question, it is answered. That is greatly appreciated!

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