Author Shari A. Brady on Sisters and Death in I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye

Today author Shari A. Brady discusses the loss of her sister and its impact on her novel, I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye.

The two main questions readers want to know concerning my latest novel, Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye, is did I lose my sister and are the characters real?

Unfortunately, I did lose my sister, which made it difficult for me to write at times.  I had to constantly remind myself this wasn’t my story, this was Carmella’s story. I wanted to write a novel like this because I feel loss is such a painful part of life to endure and I also feel like sisters have a very unique bond. A relationship between sisters is truly special and I decided loss combined with the unique relationship would make for a powerful story.

In terms of characters, all the characters in the book are entirely made up.  Fabricated characters are much more interesting because I take bits and pieces of real people and put them together to make a unique character who fits the storyline and my main character perfectly.  In fact, all my characters’ physical looks are based on strangers I’ve never met.  I’ll see someone walking down the street or in a public place and I’ll say to myself, “There’s my main character, or he’s the love interest.”

Although the entire story and characters are made up, all the emotions on the page are all mine.  I must confess, the opening scene where Carmella’s hugging her sister’s purse did come from how I reacted to losing my sister.  Although I didn’t sit in my closet, I did keep my sister’s purse in the corner of my closet for years and when I really missed her, I’d pick it up and go through it.

About I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye

Before Carmella D’Agostino’s older sister Francesca died, she worked at the bakery and wrote songs, but now she writes lists.  Lists like ten reasons why it’s her fault Francesca’s dead, or five reasons why she should try and win Howie back, or one reason why she needs to stop lying to everyone, including herself.

Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye is an extraordinary novel about one family’s struggle to make sense of their world after losing a family member to addiction. Through sixteen-year-old Carmella’s eyes, we witness the courage and strength it takes to overcome the consequences of grief, guilt and co-dependency.

With conviction and determination, Carmella shows us what can happen when we’re open to love, feel the pain of our loss, and have the courage to accept the truth of our lives.

An Excerpt from I Wish I Could Have Said Goodbye

“Wait,” I say.  “Can I have that one?”

Mom clutches Francesca’s shirt.  “This old thing? Why would you want this?”
“Because it was her favorite.”

Mom passes me the shirt. “Okay.” She shakes her head.

Holding it up to my nose, I smell Francesca and for a tiny fraction of a second, I get her back.

About Shari A. Brady

Shari A. Brady is a native Chicagoan and previously had so many careers she’s lost count.  A graduate from Loyola University and University of Chicago’s Creative Writing program, she is now a full-time writer and doing what she really wanted to do since she was twelve.  She lives in suburban Chicago with her awesome husband, two of the best kids ever, and their shelter dog, Betty Queen Elizabeth.  This is her first novel and her last career. Find her at


Win one of three signed print books or one of five ebooks by entering through the Rafflecopter widget on this page. (There are also a bunch of other giveaway you can enter on this page, too.) This giveaway is open to international readers and runs from August 27-September 14, 2012.

One comment

  1. I’ve never had a sister so I’ve no idea what it’s like to lose one. I totally get the keeping her purse though, I have a jumper of my grandad’s that I always wear when I’m really missing him. Great post 🙂

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