May 282013

Today I have a combination guest post/interview with author Ann Whitely-Gillen, whose book Last Train to Omaha was published earlier this year.

Last Train to Omaha came about under extraordinary circumstances. Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it certainly changed my life–but in many ways, for the better. After surgery, my road to recovery began when I started to write Last Train to Omaha. The characters in the book helped me through the healing process. When writing, I was able to find solace in each character’s ability to overcome diversity with courage in their hearts.

Through the eyes of James Milligan and his ensemble cast of supporting characters, I learned that destiny is not only what life brings us–it’s about how life can be uniquely tailored simply by how we choose to respond to it.

I’d love to hear from you.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what?
I’ve been a musician most of my life. I play the drums and I’m a vocalist as well.

What are your favorite movies?
I’m a total film buff. There’s too many to list so I will give you three of my top ten: The Third Man, Saving Private Ryan and The Hangover!

Did you ever think you would become an author?
I never thought about being an author rather a screenwriter or actress. It turns out becoming an author was in the cards all along–but I’m still working on the screenplay aspect of my career.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
My main character James Milligan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so I had to look into that quite a bit, but the anxiety component of PTSD came to me quite easily because my best friend growing up suffered from severe anxiety and I experienced the signs and symptoms very well. I became an expert. I too, suffered from panic attacks growing up so I could really tap in to James.

I had to do quite a bit of research on geography, particularly that I’ve never travelled to South East Asia. But the most interesting part of the research for me was going through hours and hours of documentaries on the Vietnam War. I’m fascinated with that time.

What is your favorite food to snack on while writing?
I’m pretty sure I kept Pepperidge Farm afloat by the amount of Goldfish crackers I consumed writing Last Train to Omaha. :0)

Of all of your characters which is your favorite and why?
Out of my main characters, I’d have to say Martin Diggs (I always pictured Morgan Freeman as this character while writing his dialogue). He is just so incredibly humble and gracious–not to mention incredibly smart and witty. Out of the supporting cast, I would say most definitely Frank Kenney because he was fearless, funny, and incredibly grounded.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on two projects. First, I’m writing the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha and it’s quite the challenge. I’m also sketching out other ideas for my second novel, which is slated to be a prequel to Last Train to Omaha.

About Ann Whitely-Gillen

Ann Whitely-Gillen resides in Ottawa, Canada, where she is a full-time communications advisor and freelance writer. Ann lives with her husband and four children, who she loves to spend time with along with their family dog.

Ann has always wanted to write a screenplay and, in fact, Last Train to Omaha started out with that in mind. After forty pages of writing, Ann turned the screenplay into a novel, as she wanted to delve deeper into James Milligan’s journey and enrich the ensemble cast of characters.

Guest post: Ann Whitely-GillenLast Train to Omaha by Ann Whitely-Gillen
Published by Self published on Mar 11, 2013
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Find the book: Amazon, Goodreads

“…in order for a man to be free,
he must bind himself to his own destiny…”

What happens when a bright young man’s promising future is tragically derailed at the age of eighteen?

Thirty-five-year-old James Milligan, the solitary and impenetrable chief architect at one of Chicago’s leading design firms, has never recovered from the gruesome death of his best friend nearly two decades before. He’s learned that a distant heart is the only way to shut out the nagging guilt and pain that threatens to capsize him at any moment. Only the dying veterans at the Aaron Milligan Palliative Care Center know the depth of the overwhelming compassion that James harbors within himself, and he is determined never to let anyone else into his heart — or his future — again.

However, when caring and patient palliative care nurse Rebecca Doyle enters his world, his hardened exterior begins to crack against his will. Will Martin Diggs, the charismatic and perplexing Vietnam War veteran convince James that it’s not too late to reclaim his future?

  2 Responses to “Guest post: Ann Whitely-Gillen”

  1. I am so glad you found a way to deal with your cancer. I hope you have had the benefit of a good support system. I am unable to walk during Relay for Life but have helped out by selling Luminerias.

  2. Good to know about that, I hope you are okay now. You know I am really afraid of this disease when I read about it online or see people who are suffering from cancer, I just pray and hope everyone stay safe.

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