The Hummingbird Kiss: the Second Edition

In the year 2001 my first novel (under the name Pat MacEnulty) was published by Serpent’s Tail Press. It was called Sweet Fire, after the song by Joni Mitchell about drug addiction. The book got great reviews such as this one from The Guardian:

MacEnulty writes about her subject with sympathy, wisdom and – an unexpected blessing – humour. . . We are spared no detail of her sordid descent, but Trish remains an engaging character whose innate, if often subdued, grain of goodness and interest in humanity keeps the reader on her side. Against the odds, Trish declines to blame anyone for her calamitous state. — The Guardian Unlimited

But the truth is I didn’t do much to promote the book in the U.S. I had been cowed by literary agents into believing it wasn’t that good and by my then-husband into believing that I should be ashamed of my past and should never have written the book to begin with. At the time I had a young daughter, attending private school in somewhat conservative (at the time) Charlotte NC and so I kept quiet about the book and my past.

Eventually, I got divorced and moved back to Florida; my daughter grew up to take a job helping formerly incarcerated people (like myself) through a criminal justice non-profit organization; and in the news were constant stories of the epidemic of drug addiction and opioid overdoses. It seemed time to revisit my story.

In 2020 I decided to turn that novel into a memoir, or “autofiction.” In 2021 Prism Light Press published the memoir as “The Hummingbird Kiss.”

Is it strictly factual? No. As I write in the Foreword to the second edition:

This is a true story, but it’s not always factual. I actually have two brothers. I melded them into one. Several other characters are also composites. All the names except my own have been changed. But those are surface details. I have omitted or altered some episodes for the sake of brevity and privacy. Otherwise, this is the life I led, the life I left behind. At least, this is what I remember. Those who might quibble with me over the details, they’re dead.

Again, I didn’t do much to promote the book, but weirdly enough, people read it. As of this writing, it has 162 mostly four- and five-star ratings on Amazon. Here is a typical review:

“Her words made me feel her feelings in a world where I’ve only seen the results but rarely experienced. It’s one of those rare reads that you’re sorry it ends, like a box of dark and secret forbidden chocolates but you’re addicted and even though your brain argues no more, you come always come back. Until it ends.” — Amazon 5-star review

Why a second edition? For one thing a lot of readers wondered what happened after the events of the book, so I have included an epilogue to let them know and also to let them know about the memoir I wrote years later, about taking care of my mom —  the same woman who stood by me through the worst episode of my life.

Secondly, I discovered that in the process of converting the book from a novel into a memoir I had missed a few details. I hope they’ve all been caught and corrected.

We have now recorded an audio version (to be released in January 2024) with the wonderfully talented Kerri Van Kirk as narrator. Listening to her read the story was harrowing for me as I have mostly put the past behind me, but it was also cathartic. At the end I wept in gratitude.

The book is not intended to in any way glorify the life of an addict. Anyone who interprets it that way is not reading very carefully. Rather it is intended to offer a ray of hope. Addiction does not have to be a life sentence.

You can purchase The Hummingbird Kiss here in Kindle or paperback or read it on Kindle Unlimited.

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