The Enemies Within Us

PI Dana Bowman from the Beyond mysteries introduces  Sharon A. Crawford’s new book The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir

Sharon wrote a memoir about her childhood back in the grey ages – 1950s and 1960s. Blue Denim Press pubished it. Love the book’s title and wish I had co-authored it. Sounds like a mystery, but the book is way beyond that.

 

Big Drum Roll for The Enemies Within Us by Sharon A. Crawford

 

 

 

 

Beware not the enemy from “without,” but the enemy from “within.”
– Douglas MacArthur

We interrupt Dana’s Intro for the latest breaking news from Sharon:

The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir is getting into bookstores. Check below under where memoir is available to see locations for copies now in or on order for the bricks and mortar versions of bookstores. Thanks to COVID-19 and lock downs, bricks and mortar bookstores were closed except for curbside pickup and delivery. Don’t forget to wear your mask if you visit a bookstore in person. You can’t get the same bookstore experience online as in person.

A review of The Enemies Within Us – a Memoir appears in the current issue of the online magazine Devour: Art and Lit Canada, issue 011 – Summer 2021  Review was written by Liz Torlee, author of  the novel The Way Things Fall. Liz’s book is available in many of the same places as mine, although I purchased the last current copy at Indigo Bay and Bloor Bookstore yesterday.  Here’s the link to Devour

Just flip the pages until you get to page 71. You can also put the page to full screen so you can read the review.

Here’s More of how I promoted my memoir during the lockdowns.

It’s done. Linda and I provided lots of humour and some words of wisdom.

Watch the Presentation of Behind the Memoir below.

Drumroll: The virtual book launch was a huge success. It was fun – lots of laughter and some seriousness as I read a few excerpts from The Enemies Within US – A Memoir and was in the hot seat answering questions from both my publisher and from guests. My shortest answer was “Finishing it.” To find out the question and see the rest, here is the video link:

Dana here again. Where to buy The Enemies Within Us

copies available at Amazon and Chapters/IndigO
Amazon for those in Canada
and at Barnes and Noble
For those who like to shop at bricks and mortar stores:

In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, available in-store at Danforth Book City, 348 Danforth Avenue –  more Info call 416-469-9997 and Beaches Book City, 1950 Queen St E, Toronto. See Website

And coming soon to Indigo/Chapters and Coles Bookstores. Memoir is now on order for Coles Bookstore, Beaches area, 2169 Queen St. East ,Toronto and Indigo Bookstore at Bay and Bloor Street West, Toronto. This Indigo Bookstore is also ordering in copies of Sharon’s most recent Beyond mystery Beyond Faith because the photo of its book cover shows on the same side of her current business card and the manager there insisted. See, even in COVID-19 times business cards have some use. Check Indigo link above to see when Sharon’s two books are in-store. Keep checking back here for more bookstore locations as Sharon continues what she calls her Bookstore Tours.

Also available directly from Sharon A. Crawford. Email samcraw@sympatico.ca for how.

and see Blue Denim Press for still more information
as I say on our Crime Beat Confidential TV show

Over to you, Sharon A. Crawford.

Thank you, Dana.

The Enemies Within Us has gone through many versions and many titles over the past 18 years. Also there were many detours, such as writing newspaper and magazine stories, starting, and still running, a writing critique group, teaching writing workshops, editing for clients. But the biggies, that reeled me in to continue writing and rewriting my memoir were moving back to Toronto from Aurora, and particularly my family – past and present. The dedication in The Enemies Within Us says it all.

Dedicated to all of my family past and present– Mom and Dad, my son Martin and his partner Juni, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. Family – eccentric or not – defines who we are. We may not all have gotten along; we may still be in flux. But that is the nature of families. I have learned and continue to learn much from all of you and am grateful for knowing you.

So, what is The Enemies Within Us about? Who are these enemies lurking within? The back cover summary might give you a hint.

“Your dad has cancer.” Ten-year-old Sharon hears these words. Not from her parents. They lied. Set mainly in 1950s and 1960s Toronto, this  is Sharon’s story before and after Daddy’s dirty little secret surfaces. Before, she is Princess to her elderly father’s King. He protects her, a shy only child, from best friend, The Bully. Sharon also deals with a bullying nun at school. She distracts herself playing baseball and piano, riding the rails with Mom and railway timekeeper Daddy, and visiting eccentric Detroit and rural Ontario relatives. After learning the truth, Sharon withdraws from Daddy. At 13, she teaches Mom to play the piano. Then Daddy gets sick again, and again…and dies.

Sharon A. Crawford’s memoir is a powerful, sometimes humorous, account of a young girl’s lessons learned from difficult teachers – bullying, betrayal, and cancer.

Mini Reviews

Sharon gently pulls the reader into her late ’50s/early ’60s childhood.We feel, alongside her, the security of a loving home and the tragedy of losing beloved parents, and we root for her as she finds an inner strength. 

—Sheila E. Tucker Author of Rag Dolls and Rage: A Memoir

Sometimes we learn about grief too young. Sharon Crawford grew up with a daddy who contracted cancer, and in THE ENEMIES WITHIN US, she takes us through what that was like with feeling, with wisdom, and even with humour.

— Brian Henry, Writer & Creative Writing Instructor

“Your Dad has cancer.” Those four life altering words launch Sharon Crawford’s memoir “The Enemies Within Us”. They set the stage for her moving reflection on the first two decades of her life and how they influenced the course her life would take.

The memoir follows her experiences as an only child of older parents, growing up in the 50’s and 60’s in east Toronto, searching for the sometimes elusive security which children crave. Visits with relatives in southwestern Ontario and Detroit play a significant role as the influence of her extended family, in some cases rather eccentric, shape her perceptions. But it is her father’s recurring battle with cancer and the impact it has on their relationship that drives the memoir.

As readers we ride the rails, literally and figuratively, with young Sharon as she grapples with the challenges of adolescence without the safety net that is usually there to smooth out the highs and lows. It is a touching journey that she shares with us.

                       – Michael R.Dyet, author of Hunting Muskie – Rites of Passage
A rare find in the memoirs section. The author’s vivid narrative has the power to involve the reader in the time and space of the various dramatic events she so well describes. It is a piece of real life worth reading.
                   Anna M.  Szlavik, author of Isabel – Secret Diary of a  Discreet Secretary 

How is the story told? The memoir’s Introduction provides a clue.

My present-day senior self meets my little-girl self. We join forces to tear apart what really happened growing up in Toronto, southwestern Ontario, Detroit, and New York City back in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, especially when your Daddy “gets” cancer. To do this, we both contribute to the story. I invite you to walk backwards in time in our shoes—the little girl me and the senior me in The Enemies Within Us. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

 

Photos and short chapter excerpts will appear  below on a rotating basis. They will reflect the diversity of the memoir’s contents. Sometimes they will be funny; sometimes sad, and sometimes filled with fear.

Chapter One begins with a mysterious knock on the front door in the middle of the night.

 

Chapter 1 – A Home is Not a House

You Can’t Go Home Again.

Thomas Wolfe

 

One late night, loud pounding on the front door wakes Mom, Daddy, and me. Like the servant heeding the master, we all trip out to the front entrance. Mom turns on the veranda light and yanks the door open.

“Do you know this man?” A police officer stands on our veranda. His right hand supports the shoulder of a dishevelled man.

“Uh, home,” the man says.

The stench of his breath assaults my nostrils, and I jump back behind Mom, then peek out. The man’s oily black hair lies flat. Night shadow and red blotches compete for attention on his face. He is bare from his neck to his dark trousers. Looking closer, I see blood dribbling down from a deep slice on his left cheek onto his chest. His eyes look bloodshot and vague. A black lump swells above his left eye.

“Home?” he asks again.

“Sharon, go back to bed,” Daddy says.

Fascinated and repulsed, I lean out a little further. Who is this man?

“Oh, dear Lord,” my mother says. “It’s Mr. Vargo from two doors down.”

Not from here; our house is safe. Our house will protect us from harm. But can its bricks and mortar stop evil from hovering within?

Maybe we should have taken this knock on the door as a warning. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

With spring came gardening. Mom was the rose gardener, the vegetable gardener, with a little help from me and sometimes even Daddy when he wasn’t busy with his area of “gardening” – mowing and watering the lawn. Oddly,  he was the one who posed for this photo in the white archway of red roses – the entrance to our backyard. However, the crime scene was the strawberry patch in the garden at the back of the property, behind the hedge.

Chapter 2 – Practising Gardening and Religion

During the night, two short figures sneak over the back fence into my mother’s garden. Despite the dark, they seem to know where to go, crouching down and heading straight for a bushy patch. They drop to their knees, yank at a branch, break off something small and red, then shove it into their mouths. Perhaps one or both of them takes a tumble into the bushes. I’m fast asleep so I don’t know. But mother knows, and after years of keeping her opinions in our house, she will sit down at the phone in the dining room, and prepare to call the police.

. . . The famiy that plants together stays together. . .

Each April when the first tulip showed its face in the flowerbed under the living room window, Mom had to get out in her garden and do her vegetable, fruit and flower business. Mom and I moved in tandem with the garden and with religion, finding parellels.  Both had beauty, filled us with awe, and brought order and ritual to our lives: plant seeds in spring and be rewarded with beautiful flowers, beautiful vegetables, and fruit in summer; go to Mass and Communion on Sunday and be rewarded in life with only good. What did I, a little girl, know about religion except what I heard and absorbed from the priests and nuns? (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

More garden stories will appear as we go through summer (when it finally arrives), some on my Only Child Writes blog which will be linked from this page.

Another garden story was just posted on my Only Child Writes Blog to honour my daddy on Father’s Day. See the blog post here.

 

Teaching Mom to Play the Piano

Excerpt from Chapter 14 –  Don’t Look Down – Ever

I am pushing 13 and decide I can teach Mom, now in her mid-50s, to play the piano. Maybe I figure five years of learning Bach, Beethoven and Chopin on my pink roxatone piano provides sufficient credentials to instruct. Now that Daddy is back home and back to work, Mom and I are left with the aftermath of his life/death ordeal. Maybe we can use music to heal, even to survive during this supposed return to normal routine. Or perhaps it is a diversion before the inevitable.

So there we sit, Mom and I, side by side on the piano bench. A mirror on the panel above the keyboard reflects our fingers, perched to perform.

“A Car Eats Gas,” I say to Mom as I point to the white keys—A, C, E, G—straddling the middle of the keyboard. “That’s middle C,” I add. I’m following the methods of my own piano teacher, Miss Garlick. (Copyright 2020 Sharon A. Crawford)

Sharon A. Crawford photo

I still have that piano, down in the bowels of my basement rec room.  As you can see, it really is pink. The pink finish is called “roxatone.”

See Above where copies of The Enemies Within US are available now
Amazon and Chapters/Indigo
and at Barnes and Noble
in toronto, ontario, canada, available in-store at Danforth Book City, 348 Danforth Avenue – more Info call 416-469-9997, Beaches Book City, and coming soon to Coles Bookstore also in the Beaches area of Toronto and Indigo Book store, Bay and Bloor, Toronto. See above for more info.
Also available directly from Sharon A. Crawford. Email samcraw@sympatico.ca for how.