Writing Your Resilience Episode 2: Breaking the Silence with Melanie Brooks

About Breaking the Silence with Melanie Brooks

Melanie Brooks joins the Writing Your Resilience Podcast to speak about her book, A Hard Silence: One Daughter Remaps Family, Grief, and Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All. This is the book she once struggled to write about her father’s death.  In today’s episode, we’ll explore the powerful impact silence has on you and how to break through it.



Transcript for Breaking the Silence with Melanie Brooks

[00:00] Lisa: I first met Melanie Brooks after hearing her on the debut author panel during the 2017 HippoCamp Literary Conference. At the time, she was reading from her first book, Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma. She took on this project while earning her MFA through the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast Master’s in Fine Arts Program after struggling to write a memoir about her father’s death during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Immediately recognizing its power, I bought a copy of this book. I have since used it as inspiration for my own writing and to empower the writers I work with. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know Melanie and have had the privilege of calling her my friend. We’ve spoken about her approach to teaching professional writing at Northeastern University and creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Bay Path University in Massachusetts. Most recently, we talked about the certificate program she earned in narrative medicine through Columbia University. I’ve read the pieces she’s published in Psychology Today, HuffPost, Yankee Magazine, The Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and many other places. It is my honor and delight to watch her come full circle by speaking to her during her book tour for A Hard Silence: One Daughter Remaps Family Grief and Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All, the book she once struggled to write about her father’s death. In today’s episode, we’ll explore the powerful impact silence has on you and how to break through it.

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Show Notes for Breaking the Silence with Melanie Brooks

Melanie Brooks joins the Writing Your Resilience Podcast to speak about her book, A Hard Silence: One Daughter Remaps Family, Grief, and Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All. This is the book she once struggled to write about her father’s death.  In today’s episode, we’ll explore the powerful impact silence has on you and how to break through it. 

Before we get to this conversation, I have a few questions for you. What role has silence played in your writing and in your life? Has it ever been helpful? Has it ever held you back? If you could learn one thing about it, what would that be? How could learning this help you become more resilient? 

Melanie Brooks is the author of A Hard Silence: One Daughter Remaps Family, Grief, and Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All (Vine Leaves Press, September 2023) and Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma (Beacon Press, 2017). She teaches professional writing at Northeastern University and creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Bay Path University in Massachusetts. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast writing program. She recently completed a Certificate of Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Psychology Today, the HuffPost, Yankee Magazine, the Washington Post, Ms. Magazine, Creative Nonfiction, and other notable publications. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, two children (when they are home from college), and two Labs.

Episode Highlights for Breaking the Silence with Melanie Brooks

  • 2:55: The pain of living with secrets
  • 5:54: Navigating anticipatory grief 
  • 15:45: The transformative power of finishing your story 
  • 20:00 The magic of timing and the stories we tell ourselves 
  • 26:00 The influence of narrative medicine on Melanie’s story
  • 30:00 Marrying two stories into one 
  • 37:00 Melanie’s best writing advice 

Connect with Melanie:

Connect with your host, Lisa:



About Your Host


Lisa Cooper Ellison is an author, speaker, and trauma-informed writing coach with an Ed.S in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. She has spent the last two decades helping clients and students turn difficult experiences into art, and currently teaches courses in memoir, the psychology of writing, and the book proposal. Her essays have appeared in Huffington PostHippocampus Literary Magazine, and Kenyon Review Online, among others. 


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