Excerpted from Angels in My Hair by Lorna Byrne. Copyright © 2009 by Lorna Byrne. Excerpted by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
How does it feel to have your first book published?
Fantastic, it is something I am still trying to get my head around it. To me, it is still unbelievable. I find myself smiling every time I see the book in a book shop, and when I see someone looking at the book, I am overjoyed. I keep laughing with the angels about the fact that it has really happened, that the book is actually published and on sale.
How have you found the process of writing and publishing a book?
One thing I have learnt is just how much hard work is involved. It’s certainly not all glamour -in fact I have seen very little glamour so far- but I do look forward to some in the future!
I have been working on this book for three and a half years - it has been a long three and a half years but well worth it. Every chance I got I wrote, and I got incredible support from family and friends.
The book is now published in many countries but I’m busier than ever with interviews, travel, and meetings. I love walking, and I try to go for a walk every morning, but with all that’s going on, it doesn't always work out. If I'm lucky I get to walk at the weekend. It’s all worth it though, I love writing and sharing my life with the world.
That being said, I am looking forward to having some time off, putting my feet up and spending some quality time with my daughter. But God and the angels have told me I will only get a few days here and there. I even find it hard to have quality time with God and the angels. My life belongs to God and writing and publishing this book is what I have been asked to do.
Has it changed your life?
Yes, of course, it has. It has turned my life around in ways I never thought possible. After years of being home based and meeting very few people I’m now out meeting people all the time. Prior to this book I had only been on four planes in my life – last week alone I was on four!
Before, my time was dictated by the needs of my family. Now I have much less time for myself, I’m very much in demand. But I do enjoy it – well most of it.
What response have you had from readers?
The response has been incredible. People have told me they have stayed up all night reading it. Many have found it very emotional and have told me they were in tears. Many people told me that it gave them back hope and that knowing they have a guardian angel there beside them has made their life much easier.
The angels told me that different parts of the book would resonate with different people. I’m finding that this is very true.
Why do you think people react so strongly to Angels in My Hair?
I believe people have reacted so strongly because it has brought hope into their lives.
It has made them realize that they are not alone. That God has given them the gift of a guardian angel, who is always there with them, no matter what. They are not alone.
The book also helps people to understand that they have a soul - they are not just flesh and blood - and that while their body will die, their soul won’t.
When you started writing, did you have an idea of what you wanted the book to be like?
I didn’t have any idea that the book would involve telling so much about my family and my personal life. I knew it would be about what the Angels had taught me over my life – but my original intention wasn’t for it to be so personal – I’ve always been a very private person
My editor, was very adamant about this, he constantly probed. I’d say something – like a particular angel- was “indescribably beautiful” and he’d write in the margin of the manuscript “Please try”, a little like a school teacher As a result of his perseverance I became much more open and much better at describing my experiences.
Where did the title ‘Angels in my hair’ come from?
The angels have always played with my hair when they want to get my attention. As a result of I frequently touch my hair, telling them to go away, not to be annoying me. I had a few other titles that I considered but this was always my favorite.
When and where do you write?
I actually started writing in a notebook in bed, but it took me so long and was so difficult that it became clear that there was no way I could write the book this way.
I have severe dyslexia, and had very little schooling, so writing is very hard for me – I was determined however to write this book.
I started recording my thoughts on to ordinary cassettes, and got a friend to transcribe them. After about a year another friend bought me a voice activated computer – which is fantastic. I still need help to edit, but at least they don’t have to type everything from scratch.
I have no particular writing rhythm – largely because of the demands of a young daughter and family. Sometimes I write in the morning and sometimes in the evening. For the three years we were doing the writing of this book, a friend came one day a week to edit with me, and this day we worked very intensively.
Did you come across any particular challenges while writing the book?
The dyslexia was obviously a big challenge. But there was another one too. I think that what I see and experience is normal and frequently had to be reminded that this was not the case and that I needed to explain or describe more. My editor played an important role in this.
What do you like reading?
I don’t like reading because it takes so much effort from me.
Will you write another book? What about?
Yes. I plan to write several more. My second book “Stairways to Heaven” in fact already published in many countries. But not yet the USA. I have asked that the publication of it in the States is delayed until more people have had a chance to read Angels in my Hair.
I’m also working on a third book.
1. Which episode in the book sticks most clearly in your mind after reading it?
2. What do you think about the difference in descriptions between the ordinary and the extraordinary – how well does this work?
3. One reader has said ‘Either this is true or Lorna Byrne has one of the most extraordinary imaginations I’ve ever come across.’ What do you think?
4. The author speaks of the difficulty she has in describing angels, do you think she succeeds?
5. ‘People could see that I was different and just couldn’t understand it.’ Why is it that difference from the norm is marginalised in our society? Why do you think people are frightened of things that they don’t understand?
6. What do you think of the following statement: ‘Sometimes, things only seem like tragedies… Sometimes tough things have to happen in order for people to change, and for things to change in their lives.’ Can you think of a time when this may have happened to you or someone you know?
7. How has reading the book changed your view of life after death?
8. Lorna describes the passing away of people she has known and the people in her life in great detail. How does her experience of it make you feel about death?
9. The author has said that this book has a unique message for each person who reads it – what message does it hold for you?