My Quest For Freedom

Elisa Stancil Levine Author Interview

This or Something Better: A Memoir of Resilience shares how your life has been impacted by your connection with nature and helped you heal. Why was this an important book for you to write?

My quest for freedom and safety seemed no different than many others efforts to reconcile the belief systems they crafted from what was close at hand in early childhood. By sharing how I reacted, and sometimes overreacted, to long ago incidents, I hoped to reassure, warn and enlighten others who also carried invisible hand made armor that made connecting on a human level more difficult. The counsel and companionship of nature was my saving grace, but relying on it solely had unintended consequences.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Business failure and drug use were very hard for me to write about. The first few drafts I left out those difficult years completely. And the arc of 70 years was not what I planned originally, I wanted to write about my career as a colorist and pattern designer, and how by being curious and courageous I made my way as a young single mother, a high school drop out, and ended up working all over the world. But the story of learning, inch by inch, to trust, and to forgive, had to be written first.

What was one of the happiest times you remember about being in nature?

My first memory, when I greeted the trees and the sky, before i was old enough to speak. And every time I hike or look out my window to see what i call “feral” oaks on the hillside, leading to more than thirty miles of hiking and running trails on the mountain where I live. I am renewed through and through by the essence of the natural world.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Forgiveness, of others and of ourselves, will connect us to the deep well of joy within us. Fear not!

Author Links: Facebook | Website |

When the Sonoma Complex fire came to Elisa Stancil Levine’s California doorstep in 2017, her world changed overnight. The devastating fire torched thousands of acres, but for Elisa, a world-class decorative artist, it was her reaction that night that cracked her wide open. A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, Elisa thought she had reckoned with her early childhood trauma. But when she fled the midnight firestorm without alerting a single neighbor, she had to ask herself: Who does that?
In This or Something Better, Elisa revisits her past and the one force in which she has always found true kinship: the wild river. Nature, her lifelong ally, gave solace when she faced secret abuse as a toddler. Through teen pregnancy, her baby’s stillbirth, and a mystical near-death experience at eighteen, nature shaped her character, and it later informed her wildly successful career. But was there an unintended consequence?
The fresh trauma of the firestorm sparked a quest: what treasure awaited if Elisa learned to trust human nature? Vivid, poetic, and intimate, This or Something Better reveals how true healing of deep wounds happens one exquisite layer at a time—and invites us each to consider and embrace our own path toward wholeness and authenticity.

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on March 27, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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