A chance phone call inspired Lee Woodruff, a contributor to CBS This Morning, to write her first novel. The author, with her journalist husband, Bob, had written the bestselling In an Instant, which chronicles the family’s path to recovery in the aftermath of Bob’s traumatic brain injury in Iraq. Since then, Lee has become the go-to person for brain injury information, which is why a friend called about an accident in which a 17-year-old drove a car into a young child riding his bike. The child subsequently recovered from a brain injury. “What struck me was the randomness of the act,” Woodruff tells Show Daily. “That one ‘in an instant’ moment is probably why it hit home, because my moment was when I picked up the phone and got the news about Bob. And as a mother I wound up thinking, ‘God, this could have so easily happened to my 17-year-old son.’ And look at all of those lives that were affected by that one moment.”
In Woodruff’s novel, Those We Love Most (Voice), a teenage boy thinks he’s driving down an empty street, and a mother, distracted by a text message on her phone, neglects to watch her bike-riding child. Then disaster strikes.
Like many writers, Woodruff pulled things from her own life to enrich her story. Her father, for example, suffers from dementia, and in the book the main character’s father has a stroke. The author explains, “Watching my mother care for my dad gave me some insights into what that must be like—to see a loved one in their sunset years really diminished by something like a stroke or dementia.” And of course, seeing how her own family and friends responded to her husband’s predicament, and how he recovered himself, fueled the underlying spirit of Woodruff’s book.
“Someone once told me, or I read somewhere, that loss is not the end. It’s merely an indication to change. And that’s the theme of this book. We all are going to lose something—one’s job, a breast, whatever it is. We’re all going to have to deal with that at some point in our lives,” Woodruff says. “What I’ve seen as an advocate for veterans and as a wife who went through something bad is that human beings are built to survive. Most of us are capable of resilience in pretty incredible ways.”
This is Woodruff’s first experience at Book Expo. “It’s going to be like being in a candy store,” she says. “For some people it’s makeup; for others it’s technology. For me it’s books—my dream come true! I just want to go and stare over the counter. I’m going to feel like the kid in kindergarten at the big kids’ school.”