Lori Keesey: A Voyage Across Universes, from the Echoes of Space to the Depths of Fictional Imagination

by Brooke Young

"Even when things seem rough, there's still something beautiful to find."

Recently retired, Lori Keesey enjoyed a 40-plus-year career as a writer and now has time to pursue her childhood dream of writing fictional characters who make a difference.

She’s written for daily newspapers and trade publications and her freelance work has appeared in regional and trade magazines, specifically those specializing in space exploration. Yes, Lori was a space junkie, and worked for NASA in public outreach for nearly 20 years.

She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a B.S. in journalism. There she met Kevin Berry, whom she married in 1980. She is the mother of three boys and one dog.

Name: Lori Keesey

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Table of Contents

Before we begin, who is the “cliff-notes” version of who Lori Keesey is? Share a bit of your background with us.

Lori Keesey: Professionally, I’m a writer. Personally, I’m a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I started my career as a newspaper reporter and freelance magazine writer, and then switched gears to become a communication consultant for NASA.

A few years ago, my career took a different trajectory after the unexpected loss of our son in an accident. Devastated, I needed to figure out why he had died at just 33 years, while in the prime of his life. I needed to figure out how I could use his death to help others.

I started writing Always Think of Me and launched a blog, The Accidental Blogger. Both explore overcoming adversity and putting meaning to the hard things in life.

Your upcoming Novel– “Always Think of Me” explores themes of resilience in the face of adversity. Why did you choose to highlight and spotlight the attribute of resilience through your debut novel?

Lori Keesey: The novel does address resilience, but on a deeper level it also discusses life’s purpose. They are intricately linked. No one escapes adversity. It happens to all of us. How we deal or not deal with it makes the difference.

Many people face their pain head-on. Although they initially may blame God or someone else for their suffering, ultimately, they move through the grieving process and reach acceptance. I noticed this just recently. A dear friend lost her son recently—just two-and-a-half years after losing her other son. Unfathomable! Heart wrenching.

Her husband’s reaction to this horrific loss struck me. In his profound grief, he wondered if God had cursed his family. Having spoken with him, I believe he will overcome and find peace. He will be resilient. But I also know of people who don’t.

As another friend once told me, “there is beauty in the ugly.” It’s up to us to find meaning and purpose in the suffering and then to repurpose our lives to doing something positive.

“Always Think Of Me” promises a blend of fiction and real-life challenges. How do you balance realism with providing readers with a sense of hope and inspiration, especially in the realm of emotional and mental health?

Lori Keesey: The world is a broken place. Drug abuse. Alcoholism. Physical and mental abuse. The list goes on and on. People do get involved in toxic relationships. They do lose loved ones. And parents do abandon their children.

These traumas have lasting effects. The novel addresses these realities, mainly through the character, Ginny. She has lost her way, and the protagonist, TC, who grapples with his own insecurities, must show her the truth, and stop her from doing the unthinkable.

Always Think of Me is a love story . . . an uncommon love story that shows the importance of friendship and do-overs. The novel offers a perspective on life that can set us free and remind us of our own specialness and purpose. I see a lot of hope in that.

In your own life, how has the theme of resilience guided you?

Lori Keesey: Writing a novel is hard work. So often, I just wanted to stop and remain in my comfort zone. I wanted to ignore my childhood dream of writing at least one novel. But my sister kept telling me, “Just birth that baby.” I did. Although I have no idea of what lies ahead, I’m trying to ignore the negative voices and simply celebrate the achievement.

Negative voices? Yes, negative voices . . . the ones that say you’ll never reach your dreams. You should give up. I’m sure many can relate. These voices need to be ignored.

For a writer who has shifted from journalism to fiction, it must have been challenging to navigate the portrayal of such complex emotions and psychological struggles within your characters. Why do you believe themes of emotional and mental resilience are so crucial in our contemporary world?

Lori Keesey: I call it story writing. Journalists, of course, should base their stories on facts. Authors can unleash their imaginations and make up stories from whole cloth. But do they? I can only speak for myself, but I did write about what I know.

Many of the scenes in my novel did take place and real people inspired some of the characters. But something else informed the story. As I started writing the novel, while grappling with the loss of our son, suicide rates had begun to explode, and it made me wonder what could have happened had these victims understood their specialness and purpose? Would they have ended their lives?

Through my own grieving, I came to understand that we’re here, at this time, for a reason. We all have a job to do. If that involves using our voices, our time, and our experiences to help and encourage others, so be it. No larger calling exists.

You state that you hope your debut novel offers readers something much deeper than a story. How do you envision your book contributing to conversations about self-care and mental wellness?

Lori Keesey: Regardless of what has happened in your life, your past should never define you. You can heal. Move on. Make a difference. But first you need to eschew the negative and remember you have a special job to do . . . a job that only you can do.

What wellness strategies and techniques?

Lori Keesey: I’m showing my age, but “Eleanor Rigby” is perhaps one of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard . . . “Ah, look at all the lonely people . . . Where do they all come from? . . . Where do they all belong?”

Loneliness can take you to dark places. That’s why being a friend to a friend in need is so important. You aren’t alone. Someone, including professionals, can relate to your adversity and help you navigate the obstacles.

If you struggle, please seek the counsel of friends, family, a mental-health professional, clergy, whomever. Avoid those who reinforce the negative. You are special. You have a purpose. Never let anyone dissuade you from this truth. This, too, is an important message in Always Think of Me.

Where can our readership go to connect with you and learn more about both your novel and other pursuits?

Lori Keesey: The best place to learn about me is on my website, https://lorikeesey.com. The book will publish on April 2, 2024. You may preorder at Amazon and other online bookstores.

I’m also looking for people interested in sharing their adversity stories with me. Readers can contact me at [email protected].

Brooke Young, VIP Contributor to WellnessVoice and the host of this interview would like to thank Lori Keesey for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.

If you would like to get in touch with Lori Keesey or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page

Disclaimer: The WellnessVoice Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

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