The Soul Whisperer: Interview with Sonia Palleck.
Written by Carin Chea
She is the confidant you wished you had as an adolescent, the real imaginary friend you needed as a child, and the wise mentor you sought when you struggled through young adulthood. And let’s be honest: She’s probably the best friend you want right now. Author Sonia Palleck recognizes that we all possess that small child within us, the being who informs us of our deepest and basest desires: To be seen, heard, and understood. An orthodontist by trade, Palleck has successfully parlayed her talents into writing, where her books are internationally loved and revered. Though we can’t all carry the author in our back pockets, we can read her four-book Leave the Little Light On series which is based on the author’s life. The cherry on top of the cake? The heart-tugging book covers are illustrated by the author herself. You are an orthodontist-turned-writer. Or, have you always been a writer who also happens to practice orthodontics? I am not a formally trained writer. I’m a full-time orthodontist. I graduated 30 years ago and have been in private practice for 24 years. I have always written poetry and journaled and things like that, but never had any formal training. I was lying in bed, in the early morning. It was March 1, 2020, and a man’s voice said, “It’s time to write.” I jumped out of bed. I thought there was someone in my house. There wasn’t. So, I lit a candle, and this story came. I did this every day for 15 months at 4 am. I wake up at 5 am to go to work. The only time the writing came to me was from 4 to 5 am every day. I’d been working on the book, in terms of the self-publishing process, editing, and trying to shop the manuscripts to agents who are comfortable with someone who isn’t a formally trained writer. Some agents said it’d be easier if I was an influencer and had a following. But, I believe so passionately in the message of the books that I will be relentless in trying to get the world to read them. The message is love. For my generation, Gen X, so many of us grew up with trauma. Here we have Athena, this young girl. She’s burned by a cigarette from her father’s hand. He tells her “You’re okay, stop crying” and then blames her. That’s really a synopsis of our society, this denial of suffering. The world really needs to turn attention to love. When did you start writing the Leave the Little Light On series, and what inspired it? Athena’s based on me, but it reads like fiction. She is written like a human, not a hero. She’s written like someone we can relate to. I had done a lot of healing. I was married for 22 years and went through a painful divorce. I lost both my parents shortly after that, one after another. Financially I lost everything. Sitting there, trying to become whoever I’m going to be in the next moment, this voice [who told me to write the book] touched me. As I had gone on so many healing journeys to overcome these traumas, I realized that people learn from stories. I even had a hard time learning about healing from a healed person. When Athena goes through her childhood, you’re walking through the story with her. It will draw you in and allow you to follow the path that she takes. It’s an inward journey. It is deep, and it can be dark. The four-book series will unpack every issue you can possibly deal with in life. That’s what humans go through. We go through it all. We’re not just one-sided, one-dimensional beings. We’re one love, and so we have all of it in us. Athena is going to walk through it all. It wasn’t just the voice that inspired me. I had to be ready, and I had something to say. It was very cathartic to write out these events since I had carried them with me my whole life. Sometimes it felt very cringy to write because Athena is flawed and not perfect, yet you still root for her. That’s what the little light is: We need to root for each other and for love. We have hope. This young girl has a deep knowing about love, a connection to her source, and I’ve always felt that. In writing, I’m connected to what’s in my heart, and, in terms of my energy, I allow that to flow through me, and it gave me the ability to put those memories on paper.
You are so calming to be around. You must be a very popular orthodontist.
I help everyone see that a smile isn’t just their teeth, but a feeling of joy. When our heart feels safe and seen, there’s more fun. The world is a lighter, better place. When our heart is in fear, or we’re putting ourselves down, we don’t have much reason to smile. Don’t be ashamed that something happened to you. Don’t be afraid: Less fear, more fun. If I could have one mantra, that’d be it. Who is your book series geared toward? What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
I think it’ll connect with everyone, truthfully. The voice is so universal.
Young people love it because it’s insightful and they’re in the midst of those choices and haven’t gone through 30 years of self-reflection yet. People of all ages will connect to the message. I hope readers take away that they have a spark, a light that lives in them, that they need to listen to. That’s our guide. It will never steer us wrong. No matter where we’ve gone in life, love is unconditional. That is what real love it. It’s about acceptance and forgiveness and kindness. There is nothing in the world that cannot be healed by love. That’s in us and our birthright. I hope readers will be inspired by Athena’s resilience, hope, and positivity.
Tell us about your experience writing Leave the Little Light On. At the start, of the first book, I had a lot of resistance. The first and third books were the hardest ones to write because they were deeply personal and traumatic. They cover my childhood and then my marriage, respectively. To be that vulnerable and exposed (even though I have Athena to be that person) I had to commit to the knowledge that it came from a place of authenticity and truth. I simply allowed myself to lose the fear of “someday someone might read this,” because I actually felt some shame and guilt while writing this. It was a good exercise to release all those fears and shame. The one word that comes to my readers’ minds when they read the book is “brave.” That’s what people tell me. People often say to me, “I would never want anyone to ever know that about me, but reading that about Athena comforts me.” There has to be someone to stand up and say, “I’m not ashamed of my life.” If that’s based on my life, it’s true – I have done things I’m ashamed of, and things have happened to me that I am ashamed of – but I’m not that person anymore. I’ve grown past those things and I can forgive myself and others. I hope that gives people that spark. We need to come together and talk about that so we can help each other heal and not suffer. Who would play your protagonist if Netflix were to pick this up as a series?
My sister said she thought Gal Gadot would be good. I pictured Sandra Bullock since she is an empath and has had trauma in romance and heartbreak. It’d have to be someone soulful, empathic, and vulnerable. And someone with an inner strength. The whole series will be released this year. Besides doing the editing, I’ve had them professionally edited. I also painted the covers. I had a lot of creative control over it. I hope the world reads them. That’s really and truly my hope. I believe very deeply that these books will help us heal. For more information, please visit www.soniapalleck.com