A Letter from Danielle for September ‘19

Hi Everyone,

Well, here we are, back in the fall. I hope you had a restful, fun, relaxing summer and were able to take some time off. I love September, it revitalizes me. I think we’ve all been trained for so many years to rev up our motors for the return to school that, even as adults, it feels like the start of a new year and I still find it exciting. New shoes, new pens and pencils and notebooks, new teachers, new backpacks, new kids at school. It was always my busiest month EVER as a mom, dashing around to get nine kids ready for a new school year (!!!)-even more so than getting ready for the holidays a few months later. I love that feeling of starting fresh and revving up our motors, getting back into shoes and real clothes after the lazy days of summer. I still find September exciting!!! School used to start right after the Labor Day weekend, whereas now kids seem to go back to school before that, at the end of August, and by then I think everyone is ready to get back to real life and new challenges!!!

At the very end of August, my new book The Dark Side came out in hardcover. It’s a real-life thriller. The book is about a fascinating and deeply disturbing psychiatric phenomenon which I have heard, read (first-hand accounts), and seen numerous interviews about during my research for the book: Munchausen by Proxy. Munchausen is where people manifest the symptoms of illness to get attention for themselves-they either make themselves sick, or fake it. Munchausen by Proxy, which the book is about, is far more dangerous and insidious: it causes mothers to either put their children in harm’s way, or harm them themselves so that they can show what attentive, perfect mothers they are. They cause their children to have accidents, do things to make them ill, even haunt and hound doctors to convince them to perform surgeries on their children-claiming that they have symptoms they don’t really have-going to great lengths to make their children ill, or fake the symptoms convincingly. The children who are victims of parents with this pathology undergo many unnecessary and painful treatments if the parents/mothers successfully fool the doctors. And the lengths to which these mothers go are horrifying. Sufferers from this pathology frequently kill their very young children if it’s taken to an extreme degree, and they are so clever that they are very hard to catch, often appearing to be exemplary, even perfect, mothers. Some of the videos I watched of interviews of mothers in prison were chilling. I read a book several years ago written by a woman who had been the victim of just such a mother when she was a child, and had had countless surgeries that weren’t needed. It is a VERY disturbing illness, but a very real one, and my book is centered around just such a mother, and the race to save the child (at three) from her own parent. It’s an exciting, mesmerizing book, which explores this terrifying form of mental illness, and is a thriller, as the husband begins to suspect his wife and races to save the child before she is killed. I hope you love this book. It was fascinating to write.

September is also a bittersweet month for me. It is the anniversary of when I lost my son Nick, who was an absolutely incredible boy, who died by suicide at nineteen. Those anniversaries are always hard for anyone who has lost a loved one, and there are a few days in September where my family and I wrestle with the loss again every year. But the rest of the month is usually a great month. I hope that September will be terrific for you!!


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