Local author inks book deal and shares her struggle
Several years later, the stories and feelings documented in her journal would become a memoir of her struggles, fears and mistakes titled “Aprils and Decembers.”
Quarles grew up in Milton. She married young, traveled while she could, went to college, divorced, and returned to Pensacola in 1995. One year later, she met Bob, and the two were married by 1999. In 2004, she accepted a teaching position at Pace High School, where she teaches politics.
Bob and Quarles had a son, Ben. In 2008, Quarles and her husband experienced difficulties in their marriage and Bob became sick with the flu. He was never quite able to kick the illness. Despite counseling, the two divorced in 2009.
Bob committed suicide the following year.
“I think he knew he was never going to get well again,” Quarles said. “At the time he died, my son was 9 and I was worried he would only remember the bad stuff, so I started writing down our good stories.”
Quarles was concerned about the mental health of her son, and how he would develop and process memories about his family and early childhood.
The journal that housed the stories Quarles hoped to pass on to her son also became a grief journal.
“You start to piece the missing parts of the last 15 years together, and it became this enormously long, complicated journey,” she said.
Quarles decided to make pieces of the book into a memoir for friends, family and herself.
She sent various portions and copies of her story to more than 75 publishers.
“You have to look through which publishers accept first-time authors — which ones will take memoirs — and then go through the remaining list and find out what they want from you,” Quarles said.
A small publisher in Texas, Black Rose Publishing, picked up the book. It was released Dec. 10.
The local support has been tremendous, Quarles said. Several books clubs in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties have chosen to read “Aprils and Decembers,” and have asked Quarles to attend their final discussions.
“You don’t usually get to meet the author of the book you just read,” Ashley Murray said. Murray is part of a book club in Santa Rosa County with 10 other women. The group plans to gather on Jan. 12 to meet Quarles and discuss the book.
Murray noted the vulnerability she imagined Quarles experiencing after releasing such personal details.
“She said things that would be hard to admit to yourself, much less thousands of people,” Murray said. “And she really wanted to create a legacy for her son, Ben, for him to know her for who she really is — good and bad.”
As much as the story is about relationships and struggles, it is vastly about parenting and the lasting impressions mothers and fathers leave on their children.
“The process of documenting and remembering has really helped me heal,” she said.
Quarles will do a public book reading and signing at Barnes & Noble on Airport Boulevard on Jan. 23.
“We like to bring in local authors, so the customers can get a feel for the area,” said Laura Ferrer, community and business development manager. “You get to meet these different characters, and they are right here in our city.”
To get a copy:
“Aprils and Decembers” is available online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Smashbooks
Hard copies will be available at Barnes & Noble in Pensacola on Jan. 23 book signing
For more information, visit dawnquarles.com.
There was this one time many years ago, I was unloading groceries from the car, plastic bags dangling from both arms as I tried to backwards-kick the passenger side door shut. My toddler sprawled out in front of me right there in the grass, draped across my feet, and began to wail because he couldn’t have a popsicle out of the grocery bag at that precise moment. I took my dominant leg and scooped him up with it like an excavator at a demolition site, moved him expertly to the side and dumped him right back in the grass where he kept on wailing. I glided past him and into the house, catching the eye of my judgmental neighborlady in the process, who I’m sure thought she was sure she just saw me kick my kid. Read more
Friends! Women! Mothers, and Sons with Strong Mothers! My long, wonderful, painful, magical journey culminates here and I am so, so excited to be sharing this dream-come-true with you. Today, I’m revealing the cover for my forthcoming memoir, April and Decembers.
I am a writer who loves to talk about my journey, the journey we’ve all taken in fact, through lives that are often extremely complicated but that are also wholly universal and entirely magnificent. My experiences will become part of your journey too and my first book Aprils and Decembers promises to share something everyone can relate to as we each stumble and soar through private lives that are inherently intertwined by our unique experiences. Read more
Today I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek at my forthcoming memoir, Aprils and Decembers, available on December 10, 2015 from Black Rose Writing!
An excerpt from Aprils and Decembers
(*all names besides my own have been changed)
And so it was for four days. That pep rally I’d given myself on my drive home from Troy’s house, the one about being strong for Tate, wasn’t playing out the way it was supposed to. I did not eat, or bathe, or function like a person should, especially one who has a child who’s grieving and dogs to feed and friends who just want to know you’re okay. I did nothing except move from bed to bathroom and back to bed, my old fallback habits when my life absolutely and completely crippled me. My mother cared for Tate, fed him, entertained him, and distracted him, just like she had when I left Troy the year before, because I just couldn’t do any of it. I was useless, again, save for one thing: lying with him in bed on those nights talking about his dad. I knew that arrangements were being made for Troy’s funeral but I was left completely out of it, as I expected to be. I resurrected myself in brief chunks of time to make phone calls to the insurance companies and to answer lingering questions about Troy’s personal affairs and accounts to employers and others not personally involved in his death. Oddly, many of the folks I had to deal with regarding Troy’s business treated me as if I were still his wife and when that happened, things moved smoothly, thank God. Read more
My hat goes off and I dutifully kneel in worshipful submission to the doctors who treat our kids every day. American medicine is the best in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Is there anybody a mama loves more than that savior with the stethoscope in the moments when we are handed a prescription to soothe our baby’s earache pain or clear up a humiliating case of teenage acne? I can think of no one. He who has the answers to what worries us most, our children, is at the same time our oracle and our healer. Doctors are accused of having a God-complex, but they earn it because they can get our kids feeling better a whole lot faster than a prayer can. Read more