Interview with Janet-Lynn
Author, speaker and professional dreamer, Janet-Lynn Morrison is no stranger to the strength needed to overcome life’s challenges. Janet-Lynn’s family became members of the Canadian Liver Foundation community when her youngest daughter was suddenly diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) type 1, chronic liver inflammation.
We sat down with Janet-Lynn to talk about the inspiration behind her new book and why she chooses to “live impossibly” every day.
CLF – Tell us a bit about your new book.
JLM – Forever is Today is a novel about love, understanding, friendship and determination. The pages are filled with emotions that are bigger than life, and that take the wheel of the characters lives.
The book has been compared to Fault in our Stars – it’s heartbreaking, it’s inspiring, it’s filled with twists, including a great one that no one sees coming.
You close the cover and walk away feeling a lot, which is what I set out to do when I started writing Forever is Today.
Forever is Today, means we never know what tomorrow may bring, so we’re always experiencing our forever moments, in what we refer to as the “now.”
CLF – What inspired you to write it?
JLM – First, I’ve always wanted to write a novel. I love getting lost in books and watching movies and I wanted to come up with a way to package those passions.
Next, about five years ago, my daughter Maddy was suddenly diagnosed with AIH type 1 – it turned our world upside down and shifted how we live our lives every day.
I wanted to tie together the idea of loving words, loving inspirational movies, loving my daughter, and loving bringing awareness to, and educating, people.
Maddy gave me permission to use her personal story as inspiration for the book and the main character, Bea. Even in the book, the characters are involved with the liver foundation! The book mimics real life – a mix of fiction and fact – and it all comes together in a beautiful story and gives the essence of our real life, mixed with the it’s different (people like different) – did a twist (it’s a mix of fiction and fact). Different characters are inspired by members of the family.
CLF – You have a motto-of sorts: Live impossibly – what does that mean to you and how do you live that essence in your every day?
JLM – Living impossibly really means doing the impossible every day and living in the ‘now’ – it’s also the essence behind the book’s title Forever is Today… To live this way, you have to learn to ‘forget’ every day and ‘forgive every’ day. No one knows how long we have – what every minute will bring.
It’s taken me a lot of time to learn to live my life this way – my intention behind everything I do is to help others – it’s my purpose. I have been listening to people telling me “I can’t do that” for as long as I can remember… but I always found a way to do the things I want to do.
One thing I’ve learned through experience is to dive into things head on – even if it’s uncomfortable. I don’t like to shy away. I want to talk about it. Ask questions. Create space for conversation and learning. I like to melt into forgiveness – in love and relationships – and be open and honest about hard truths.
“Live impossibly” weaves throughout Forever is Today, and I think is an important way to look at things, especially with those touched by hardships like illness…. You can still have love, you can learn to manage your illness, you can learn how to rely on yourself and your family and friends to support you and empower yourself. Every day. You can consciously make that decision to do that every day. It’s reflected in our family’s life and the life of the characters in the book.
CLF – You and your family recently started the Gilbert Foundation – tell us a bit about that.
JLM – Maddy’s disease is rare, as many autoimmune diseases are. We decided as a family that we wanted to create awareness and raise funds that could be allocated to different charities, like the Canadian Liver Foundation, helping move the needle for rare diseases like Maddy’s. So, we founded the foundation.
When Maddy was diagnosed, she named her liver ‘Gilbert’ – it was a funny personal connection that she created with her liver and her body. It also humanized her struggles and, and I think, made her disease feel more manageable at the time. Hence, the Gilbert Foundation. We’re so excited to see where it will take us and the impact it might have on liver disease research.
Lots of exciting plans in the future – Maddy and I even plan to write a children’s book, starring Gilbert!
CLF – Who should read the book?
JLM – It was written with a focus on early teen readers (14-15 years old), but the reviews have shown that anyone, any age, has been drawn to the book. I’ve had men in their 40s and women in their 60s who have all raved and connected to their younger selves through the book.
Today is Forever is on sale now.
You can learn more about Janet-Lynn and get some sneak peek of Today is Forever, on Janet-Lynn’s website. Learn more about how to support Canadian Liver Founcation’s life changing research.