In her debut novel, former Carmel Valley resident Judy Scognamillo takes readers on an afterlife adventure.
“The Hope Mother” centers on a woman who dies in an accident and who goes on to heaven. After death, Pam learns she is a “Hope Mother,” the name given to women who have lost a baby. In order to move on in the afterlife, she must search heaven for her “Angel Babies.”
“It’s a story of how love conquers evil,” said Scognamillo, who lived in Carmel Valley for 25 years before relocating to Rancho Mirage last year.
Although the fictional book is not based on Scognamillo’s life, some of the story details reflect her experiences.
Like the main character, Scognamillo grew up in North Dakota and moved to San Diego later in life. She has also suffered two miscarriages.
“It was very painful, so I know what people with similar experiences have gone through,” said Scognamillo, who also lost her sister while working on the project. “I really do believe that there is an afterlife, and that this is not the end of our lives. I believe we go on somehow.”
A writer all her life, Scognamillo joined the Palm Springs Writers Guild after she and her husband relocated to Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs last year. She won two of the guild’s monthly writing contests within the first four months, which gave her the confidence she needed to write her debut novel.
“I met a lot of authors, and they really encouraged me,” Scognamillo said.
She came up with the concept while traveling with her husband one day. Six months later, she had her first draft.
“I wrote it because I just really had to,” said Scognamillo, who is already writing a sequel. “It was inside me, and it had to come out.”
Having overcome loss, Scognamillo’s experiences shine through in the story. The book has already made an impact on some readers, she said.
Inspired by the book, a grieving mother reached out to Scognamillo on Facebook. The woman had lost her son to cancer two years ago.
“I wanted to bring hope and help to people,” Scognamillo said.
Although some have found hope in “The Hope Mother,” Scognamillo said the story is not intended as a self-help or religion-based book. Rather, it’s an adventure book — a story of life and death, loss and love.
“I’m not preaching to anybody,” she said. “It’s just a book about love, and how we hope when we die (that) we’ll see the people we love who died before us.”