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Karen Keilt: 6 Questions About a Harrowing Memoir

By |2019-12-02T12:25:22-05:00December 2nd, 2019|Emerging Author Spotlight|

“In January 1976, I was a bliss-filled, 23-year-old newlywed. Three months after our wedding, my husband and I were awakened at 3:00 a.m. by men with guns. We feared we were being kidnapped by hardened criminals. Kidnapping was then — and still is — a common occurrence in Brazil. As we were driven from our home, fearing death or worse, my husband and I knew our lives would never be the same.”

In The Parrot’s Perch (She Writes Press), Karen Keilt offers a brave and detailed account of how she and husband Rick Sage were illegally incarcerated on trumped-up drug charges, tortured for 45 horrific days by the Brazilian police and then forced to rebuild their broken selves without retribution from Brazilian authorities or answers from her own complicated family.

Since BookTrib originally reviewed this book, the author discussed her story in greater detail with us.

Q: Why did you write this book? A personal catharsis? To increase awareness about human rights violations? Both? Other?

A: When I first wrote my story, it was about my dream of somehow helping to overturn a law that protects human rights abusers in Brazil and a hope that personal catharsis would also be result for me. Over the past 40 years I had suffered lingering pain, shame and anger.  And the writing did help with that.

But since my book was released, I discovered that writing the book had given me something more important. It had given me a way to help others suffering from any trauma.  And this was more helpful to me than anything else.

Q: How difficult was it to put down in words the horrific things that happened to you and your husband?  

A: Extremely difficult.  My old night terrors returned.  I became easily angered. I cried a lot.  But once the book was out and I began speaking, things really changed. I realized that speaking about my trauma was freeing in a way I hadn’t expected.  And best of all, people approached me saying they’d also never spoke about their trauma. And that was wonderful.

Q: How did your childhood serve as a precursor for the incredible story that follows?  

A: My father was a troubled man, and he was both mentally and physically abusive. I believe that rather than breaking me, his actions made me stronger and more defiant.  And my learned ability to “make myself invisible” helped keep me alive.

Q: Fear of the unknown must be a horrible sensation. Was this the greatest emotion you were feeling while being held by Brazilian authorities?  

A: My greatest fear was violent death. In my mind I “knew” I was going to die, it was just a question of when and how.  I prayed for a quick death.  

Q:  What is your hope of what readers will take away from your story? 

A: My greatest wish is that everyone who has ever suffered can get help to understand that they are not alone.  I pray that anyone who has suffered a great loss can rebuild. My greatest lesson has been that everyone has a story, everyone has a trauma.  My yoga teacher calls these events personal tsunami’s. I learned that it’s not about the storm. It’s about how you clear the debris, who clears it with you and how you rebuild.

Q: Is there a “next book” for you to write? What does the future hold for you?  

A: I’ve loved the writing process and connecting with readers.  As an avid reader myself, I always wanted to write. I hope to write more, perhaps something lighter.  Perhaps a children’s book? I have no idea what the future holds but I intend to live each day fully!

It took decades, but once I began practicing yoga in 2009, I was finally able to talk about that night and everything that had happened to us. And since then I also learned that we ALL have traumas. Each and every one of us has fears, struggles and life-altering battles. 

But there is good news. I’ve also learned that each of us can overcome our traumas. We CAN heal. With help, with perseverance and dedication, we can lead normal, productive lives. But the most important thing I learned is this: It’s not about the storm, it’s about how we clear the debris and rebuild.

Born and raised in Brazil to a Brazilian father and an American mother, Karen Keilt had a childhood of luxury and privilege. She began riding horses at age five and competing at age nine. She attended University of Sao Paulo, Faculdade Objetivo. However, in 1979, she fled to the US, after being unlawfully held prisoner and tortured by Brazilian police for 45 days before being ransomed. Since coming to America, she has enjoyed an eclectic career, including serving as Riding Master at the YMCA, and the first-ever female general manager of a men’s professional RHI League hockey franchise, the Florida Hammerheads. She always gravitated back to her love of writing–first as a newspaper columnist in South Carolina, and later writing four screenplays: The Parrot’s PerchBethebotuThe Gnashing of Teeth, and Maracanazo. Keilt enjoys traveling, hiking, Anusara yoga, amateur photography, and horseback riding. She lives in Carefree, Arizona, with her husband, Jack, and their dog, Luna.

About the Author:

Jim Alkon
Jim Alkon is Editorial Director of BookTrib.com. Jim is a veteran of the business-to-business media and marketing worlds, with extensive experience in business development and content. Jim is a writer at heart – whether a book review, blog, white paper, corporate communication, marketing or sales piece, it really doesn’t matter as long as he is having fun and someone is benefitting from it.

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