Stay away from negative people. Don’t ever let anyone steal your magic. Spiritually speaking, the very fact that you can perceive it in your mind means that you have the capability to manifest it.

As part of my series about “How to write a book that sparks a movement” I had the great pleasure of interviewing April Kirkwood.

April is an author, therapist, and public speaker. Her book, Working My Way Back to Me is an inspirational tale that sheds light on universal struggles involving love, sexuality, addiction, and mental health. She is an advocate for women and early childhood trauma that affects adult romance.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share the “backstory” about how you grew up?

I grew in a blue collar family in the Midwest living on a small farm with my mom and her extended family. My childhood was filled with wonderfully strong and crazy women who loved me but modeled some really sad messages about men and women and love. I didn’t realize those messages until I found myself looking back realizing that no matter how I looked, what degrees I had, or social status I arrived to I never could never get it right in the area of her romantic life. I finally hit a dead wall in West Palm where it looked like I had everything any woman would want. Standing gazing into the pool at my “perfect” life I wondered how I got this miserable. Through many tears and soul searching, I finally found the courage to dig deep in the darkest places of my mind and soul and find how and what went wrong. I traveled back to my story and looked at the events from an adult’s vantage point. Each step I forced myself into those parts of our lives and family we never really discuss. There were abortions, affairs, church, parties, divorces, and addictions. I found the multi-generational messages that were innocently imprinted in my being. I spent four years shifting through the rubble of my life and worked my way back until I could do the healing work I needed.

When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life?

When I read this question, I honestly searched through my memories skimming through various books. The only book that kept floating up to the surface of my consciousness was the King James version of The Bible. As a child, I found the language difficult to comprehend but the one message that resonated truth was that love is the purpose of life. Forgiveness is the way to express love to those who have hurt us. Humbleness and gratefulness are the emotions needed to understand and push through painful circumstances.

Since I lived in a dysfunctional home in which I was witness to both physical and mental abuse, I had a lot of practice with these practices. Each Sunday I sat with my mom and step dad listening to Kathryn Kuhlman no matter how bad our home life had been in the last seven days. My mother would sob into her handkerchiefand Kathryn Kuhlman would preach and cry as well. In retrospect, there seemed to be more sorrow in our religion than joy. It took me a long time to decipher all of it. One aspect of my religious upbringing that I didn’t soak in was that it was my right to love and honor myself as well. I must have got that twisted somehow because I spent most of my life trying to heal my mom, working to be what she envisioned for me, and making it my purpose to give everyone all I had.

Today I feel much differently my spiritual life has expanded. I hold close within me the core teachings of spirit, love, forgiveness, and gratefulness. However, my studies and intuitive awakening has now grown to encompass both western and eastern philosophies providing a deep peace and gentle understanding of who I am and what I am here to do.

What was the moment or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world?

Life has a beautiful way of unfolding delicately tossing us out of the nest so we can fly to heights that once seemed impossible. However, it wasn’t until my Mother’s death that broke the spell of my emotional blindness. Her fear of abandonment had kept me in the dark on several levels so I couldn’t or wouldn’t leave her. She gave me the skills but never the freedom to use them. Now with her gone, the facade was gone. I could exhale and grieve not just for her passing but for her living in such mental anguish. The bondage I felt to her survival was broken and I could walk in silence inhaling fresh air.

I found my ground. Thought I didn’t know my message at that juncture I soon began the journey back to who I was supposed to be. As years went by, my children graciously listened to me and we began to heal together. With the knowledge of their healing, I now had the courage to go down the rabbit hole and do the work of what happened to me as a child. It has taken me many moments of ‘haha’ moments to get to the now in which I presently reside.

Like a rabbit I dug and dug and dug. Like a rabbit, I twirled and dance and found clover in the fields outside my hutch delighting in the new adventure before me. Now I am at peace. Now I know who I am. Now I understand what I am here to do. It fills my being with love, passion, and wisdom.

Now I give others my story so they too can stand with me in the meadow under the oak tree at the tea party meant for those who love their lives.

What impact did you hope to make when you wrote this book?

I want others to find their story, look at it, heal from it, and become their best selves to have the life that they are meant to have. This does not mean that problems and heartaches won’t come but that there will be a deeper understanding of it all. The message is simply, “Let us open our eyes waking up to awareness of all we are and all we are meant to be.”

Did the actual results align with your expectations?

To be truthful, I always knew I was weird and I felt out an outsider most of the time. On the flip side, I always knew I was here to do something but didn’t have a clue what it was. So, I kept waiting for God to lead me and he did. I am doing motivational speaking with my healing manual “April’s Guide To Living In The Now,” giving a space for others to find their bliss.

What moment let you know that your book had started a movement?

I found that I was on the right track when people showed up out of no where wanting to help me. I didn’t have much money and they were more than generous with their assistance. I felt that doors opening were a sign that It was my time to leave the barn and run my race. After all, sea-biscuitwas never expected to win but he didn’t give up. The universe sends what you need when your heart is open and genuine.

What kinds of things did you hear right away from readers? What are the most frequent things you hear from readers about your book now? Are they the same? Different?

Firstly, many of my high school peers reached out to me saying that they never realized what my life at home was like and they apologized for not being more aware.

Next, women came out of the wood work. Some said, “You and I have the same life.” Others said, “How did you get through, I want to know more.” Still there were those who said, “I loved a powerful man. I feel I’ve been marked. I’m stuck.”

What is the most moving or fulfilling experience you’ve had as a result of writing this book?

I get numerous emails from women who have been with successful men and I’m also surprised to realize this is an actual movement. But the movement is not to persecute men but to find out how we as women got to this place and gave away our power so effortlessly. It’s vital for our futures to understandhow this one individual was capable of stopping us become our best selves. This happens so much I’m overwhelmed realizing I am touching other who quietly suffer. The silence is over and opportunities for the future touching so many facets of our lives are here.

Have you experienced anything negative? Do you feel there are drawbacks to writing a book that starts such colossal conversation and change?

The drawbacks of writing a memoir is that your life and everyone around becomes naked for the world to know. Some people misinterpret the story. Others draw back from your presence. It’s very strange. Either you draw people closer while some back away. I feel it has more to do with their issues than my story. It’s common to feel pressured to be honest when we are in the presence of others who are sharing both their highs and lows of life.

In fact, there are some members of my family that no longer speak with me. They thought that I betrayed our secrets. Perhaps I have. But it was my story to tell, and share, and use to make the world better. Still it’s sad to me.

Last but not least, Mr. Frankie Valli, one of the characters of the book, has never reached out to me. I’m sure his attorneys told him to ignorethe entire issue. I had never asked for money from Mr. Valli and that was never my intent nor will it ever be.

Recently, there was a letter I wrote to him which found it’s way on the cover of The National Examiner. Closure comes on many levels. As for Frankie, perhaps he’s not ready. Perhaps he’s afraid. Perhaps he doesn’t care. But I believe healing can still occur. So much more happens on cosmic levels in our lives. I harbor no ill will towards Mr. Valli. In fact, I still struggle with his power over me.

Can you articulate why you think books in particular have the power to create movements, revolutions, and true change?

Creativity is an aspect of being tuned in to God. As God gives artists messages those messages have the power to move others just when the universe is ready for that particular energy to evolve. There are no mistakes in the universe. Individuals, churches, communities, countries, and the planet draw into them what they need. These movements are just physical manifestations of those energiescoming into form.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a bestselling writer?

I worked with a friend who asked me questions that made me uncomfortable about my history, my philosophies, and my heartache. I wrote them out. I put them aside. I cried. I read them. I cried. I rewrote them. I cried. Today I read them and think, “Wow, I really put it out there.”

I’m proud I wrote something that is considered a decent piece of writing. I am proud I told the truth. I’m proud I have left this for my granddaughter. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction that somewhere another little girl with a family like mine may be helped by this simple work.

What challenge or failure did you learn the most from in your writing career?

I wasn’t really a good writer at first. It took me many days and weeks of getting it right and still I wonder if I could have rewritten it one more time. I thought, “I’m an English teacher. I should remember all of this.” I looked back. I decided one night to do one thing; I slowed down and let the words come from deep within. The more real I became the more the story grew.

Many aspiring authors would love to make an impact similar to what you have done. What are the 5 things writers needs to know if they want to spark a movement with a book?

Step One:

Think about what you want to change in your own life. Humans are all so much the same even if it like to think we are alone. We are not. If you are feeling lonely, confused, or have issues with mental health so are others. Whatever it is, find it and there is your movement.

Step Two:

Slow down. Nothing done well is done quickly. Take your time. The more one rushes, the more time will be spent on rewrites. Movements can last many life times. Relax in this awakening and take it one word at a time.

Step Three:

Even if your story is similar to someone else’s, it’s still yours and it’s still important. Don’t let what has already been published frighten you. You have an obligation as a soul to do your work and help heal the world back to health.

Step Four:

Writing causes so many intrapersonal changes. If the thoughts about your movement take new form go with it. That is the process of growth. Nothing is written in stone until it’s in book form. Even then, books can be go into second edition changes.

Step Five:

Stay away from negative people. Don’t ever let anyone steal your magic. Spiritually speaking, the very fact that you can perceive it in your mind means that you have the capability to manifest it.

My blessings for the creation of your story:

I love you, I praise you, I appreciate it.

You are God’s child.

Great things happens to you.

Nothing can stop it.

So it is.

Now go and write!

The world, of course, needs progress in many areas. What movement do you hope someone (or you)! starts next?

When we realize we are souls having an earthly experience to learn more about loving others and ourselves there will be several effects:

We will not judge what cannot be fully comprehended as merely good or bad.

We will be more devoted to our own personal growth than comparing ourselves to others.

We will find that everything and everyone we once admired and emulated no longer is of value.

Life will be peaceful.

There will be no need for violence.

We will care for those of all ages; both young and old.

Death will be understood to be just a passage back to home rather then an end.

Fear will subside and joy will increase.

I want people to stop looking outwards for happiness and start finding their truth, their peace, and their love from within. Society has brainwashed us into believing all that is superficial and at best, temporary is what we need. This hunger consumes and destroys us. In the process, we have lost the values of family, character, and life long learning.

How can our readers follow you on social media?






Thank you so much for these insights. It was a true pleasure to do this with you.


  • Sara Connell

    Bestselling Author & Writing Coach

    Sara Connell is an author and writing coach with a private practice in Chicago. She has appeared in Oprah, Good Morning America, NPR, The View and Katie Couric. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tri-Quarterly, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, IO Literary Journal, and Psychobabble. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year.