A.G. Riddle
Thank you for reading Winter World! I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to drop me a line with any feedback or comments: [email protected].

- Gerry

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The Story Continues

Don't miss The Solar War—the sequel to Winter World.

Expanded Author's Note for Winter World

Dear Reader,

Thank you for reading Winter World. This is my seventh novel, and it was the hardest to write, mostly because of the events occurring in my life.

Novels reflect their creators. They’re a window into our beliefs, our fears, and our fascinations. And they sometimes evoke our state of mind at the time they were written. I wrote Winter World during the winter of my own life, a time when my mother was dying. She had just been diagnosed with a rare lung condition (two, actually: PVOD and PAH). She was sixty-four. We learned that there was no cure for her condition, and no treatment.

The only option for survival was a double lung transplant. So, even in her weakened state, with slim chances of survival, she came to live with Anna, Emerson, and me, and began pre-transplant rehabilitation in Durham several times each week. It was a long road to get her body in shape for the transplant. And once she accomplished that, getting listed on the transplant registry was another challenge. Perhaps the greatest hurdle was being selected for transplant. Rightly so, they select the patients in greatest need and with the best chance of survival. We waited weeks, then months, always on alert, ready for the call at any hour. She was hospitalized twice, and recovered both times. We all knew time was running out. The doctors at Duke were doing everything they could to keep her alive, but her body wasn’t cooperating. It felt like the light was going out on the person who had given me life, the center of our family, and the gravity around which we all rotated, the body that held our family together. Our world was slowly freezing and dying.

Then, unexpectedly, the call came at 2 am. By ten the next morning the transplant was complete. The hope we felt was indescribable, as if we had been pulled back from the edge of a cliff. She walked two days after her transplant. Things looked promising. Then fate intervened again. She experienced a rare post-transplant complication (hyperammonemia). And then another (thrombocytosis). Both times, the doctors took extraordinary measures that saved her life. But there was only so much they could do. Five weeks after the transplant, she passed away. Like the characters in Winter World, I felt as though the sun had gone out. The weeks after were the darkest of my entire life. I stopped working on the book, or doing anything else.

I felt my life would never be the same. Perhaps it won’t be. But eventually, I started writing again. I finished the novel and edited it and started going into the office again and out to lunch and doing the things I had done before. There were times when life was going right along and I would forget that she was gone; moments when I would take a picture of our two-year-old daughter playing and raise my phone to text it to her and only remember in that moment that I couldn’t send it to her, that the number that popped up would never be answered again.

Loss leaves land mines. They’re unavoidable. And they hurt, but you have to keep marching past them, knowing you’ll hit a few, but the person you lost would want you to.

Like the characters in Winter World, the sun is shining again in my life, but my world will never be the same. If you’ve experienced loss, I know what you’ve been through. If you haven’t, you will. And I hope you’ll remember this letter. The sun dims and sometimes it goes out completely. But the sun always rises again. Time heals all wounds, but enduring those times is what defines us. We have to take care of ourselves during the winters of our lives. I hope you will.

- Gerry

Raleigh, North Carolina
22 October 2018
Writing as A.G. Riddle