Amy Sewell fondly remembers her childhood in Grosse Pointe. She especially remembers the teachers who encouraged her, believed in her and inspired her to be creative.
Longtime documentarian and writer Sewell – who was Amy Ottens at the time – recently released her first novel, ‘Pocket8s’, in which she pays homage to her former stomping ground and draws attention to two seemingly unrelated topics. report – euthanasia and playing poker.
Billed as a “psychothriller about chance, timing, euthanasia and luck”, “Pocket8s” tells the story of Dutch, a “complicated heroine” who does two things well: play poker and kill people. When a job goes wrong, she begins to question her abilities and intentions.
“She’s out of her game,” Sewell said. “She starts to question herself when other questions come up.”
The idea behind “Pocket8s” spanned 16 years, which the author details on his website, amy-sewell.com. She was inspired to bring up the subject of “self-delivery” after her mother-in-law shared pro-euthanasia sentiments. Sewell has done his research with due diligence and thinks this is something more people should be talking about.
“I believe in everyone’s personal choices and decisions, whether it’s family, religion or whatever. Just talk about it,” she said. one told me that we treat our animals better than we treat our people when they are in pain. I started thinking about my mother-in-law. Can we be more humane with other human beings? Absolutely.
“I don’t want to sound too gloomy – I’m actually very optimistic and fun-loving – but it’s healthy to talk about it,” she added. “I think it’s important. … If thought about more, it could be more of a comfort to the deceased and to the family.
In the book, Dutch watches for “dits” when deciding to take on clients, such as when playing poker. And although Sewell knows poker well, it was another card game that inspired Dutch’s affinity.
“Although it’s not poker, the basis of group playing cards (in the book) was a factual reference,” she said. “We had a ragtag group and we played Hearts all the time.”
The closeness of old friendships is found throughout the plot of “Pocket8s”, part of which takes place in Grosse Pointe.
“We had lawyers’ kids, Ford’s kids, and then the kids I hung out with, the troublemakers,” said Sewell, who currently lives in New York. “But we had good souls. We had camaraderie. People watched over each other. That camaraderie carries over to Dutch and his poker friends.
“When I talk about Grosse Pointe, it’s a throwback to Grosse Pointe in the 1970s; I haven’t lived there for 30 years,” she added. “I really wanted it to be authentic, to write what I know. Grosse Pointe is a beautiful backdrop. There are many different threads to pull; it’s complicated, complex. There are maybe a hundred or a thousand neighborhoods like that, but I didn’t live there.
Sewell and her family became part of the community when she was in elementary school.
“We’re a family of sailors, so it was all about being near the lake,” she said, noting her family’s membership of the Bayview Yacht Club and then the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, where she s finally got married.
But it was the teachers, not the sailing, that left the greatest impression on the author.
“Going into third grade at Ferry Elementary, I had Miss Harris as my third-grade teacher,” Sewell noted. “I wrote a book in his class, a fictional book about a wax flower garden. I grew these wax flowers, and then the sun came out and all the flowers melted.
In addition to telling their stories, the students made bindings and molded paper clay to create covers for their books. It was a labor of love, Sewell found, noting how proud she was of her creation.
Years later, she tracked down Harris in hopes of finding her long-lost book. Harris, who had retired to Florida, did not know where the book was, but remembered the story well. She was the first in a line of teachers who impacted Sewell’s life.
“I also had three amazing high school teachers,” Sewell recalled of his time at Grosse Pointe North High School. “I had Mr. Harchick for creative writing. I wrote a horribly depressing essay and a horribly depressing sonnet. He entered my work into a creative writing contest…and I won. Mr. Barr was my literature teacher. He had us read “The House of Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and then wrote to us about how we related to it. I linked it to the Rolling Stones’ “Paint it Black”. …And my art teacher, Mr. Ebert, was such an influence in my life.
Although she wanted to pursue a career in art – “My dad said no, I was starving” – Sewell ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies from the University of Michigan, then an MBA from Schiller International University. She currently works as Chief Operating Officer of Harmony Labs, whose mission is “to create a world where media systems support a healthy, democratic culture and healthy, happy people.”
In addition to her day job, Sewell is an accomplished documentarian – “Mad Hot Ballroom” – and the author of two non-fiction books, “The Mad Hot Adventures of a Documentary Filmmaker” and “She’s Out There! The Next Generation of presidential candidates.
“Pocket8s” is his first adventure in fiction.
“My lifelong quest has always been to write fiction,” she said. “The ‘Pocket8’ took 16 years to land and be born. …COVID hit and I said, “Oh my God, if I don’t finish this fiction book…
“My next is already written,” she continued. “I hope to launch it in 2023. I have an idea developed for a third party. …I will write about things that I am passionate about. I hope when people read it, they will get excited too. My goal is to start a discussion.
Its website has a series of book club questions and “Pocket8s” related talking points, meant to help start conversations.
“I would like it to be approached from a compassionate perspective,” she said.
Although she doesn’t write for the money, she said, if she were to make a profit on “Pocket8s”, she would donate it to charities she supports – Reel Works, which “helps to create a diversity pipeline in the production industry”. offering after-school programs that pair teens with professional filmmakers/mentors to create documentaries, narrative and experimental films; and Vote Run Lead, whose mission is to “unleash the political power of women as voters, candidates, and leaders to create and sustain an equitable democracy.”
“Pocket8s” is available for purchase on amazon.com.