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The Fourteenth Wife - A Search for Belonging

What to do, where to go,

who to turn to, when

all-destroying loss makes

you a stranger to yourself?

Today I have the privilege and an honour to welcome an amazing woman to my blog. Kelly Alder lived a life most people could never imagine. I'm not going to waste time telling you about Kelly, as she answered some of my questions. To be honest, I have many more I now wished I asked.

Tell us about your writing career

I took up writing late (I was in my early forties when I started my memoir,) so now, having just self-published, I am busy learning how to deal with press and PR. I plan to continue writing articles for my website and blog and am considering starting another book. 

What is the name of your book, and what inspired it?

The Fourteenth Wife - A Search for Belonging - Is a memoir about my 20’s.  Growing up in the UK, I sadly lost both my parents to AIDS.  Reeling from this loss, I then joined a cult in New Mexico and married it’s leader, becoming his 14th wife.  I initially started the book just as a personal project, writing notes for my daughter so that she would have a record of the most transformative period of my life.  I soon realised that this was a story that needed to be shared with a larger audience. 

How long did it take you before you began writing this book?

I never thought I would write a book. I had done English at A level, but did not go to university and had studied design at college. I ended up as a Pilates Instructor, so writing had never been something I considered.  But after the birth of my daughter, a little voice kept nagging me to write my experiences down. The voice grew stronger and stronger until I could ignore it no longer, and eventually put pen to paper.  The research for the book meant speaking to surviving family members and friends who remembered Mum and Dad and looking back through old photo albums.  Understandably the other wives of the cult leader were uncooperative in helping me with research, so I had to rely on my memory of what happened nearly 20 years ago.  

How do you like to collect and organise your ideas?

I wrote my memoir over six years and mostly in chronological order.  I relived my life over and over again as I re-wrote each draft.  It was exhausting and healing.  I would have vivid dreams as I lived though the trauma of my parents deaths and the grief that followed.  I would keep a note pad by my bed as I would often wake suddenly in the middle of the night with an insight that I had to get down on paper, scared that it would be gone if I fell back asleep].  I also attended Sarah Bullen and Kate Emmerson’s online writing workshops which helped me organise the structure of my book and taught me how to complete a first and second draft

How long did it take you to write this book?

My book took six years.  I was a full-time mum to my four-year-old daughter when I started, so I wrote when I could.  

What's next for you as a writer? I will continue to write content for my website, and I would love to write another book.  At the moment, I don’t have a plan, but watch this space!

I hope you now can understand why I said Kelly is an amazing woman. I urge you to read Kelly's memoir. Then you will understand why a debut author get such high reviews.



Having escaped from a cult some twenty years ago, I now find myself in the fortunate position of living between two of the most beautiful cities in the world, Cape Town in South Africa and Zurich in Switzerland.

On my blog, I write about life experiences, focusing of femininity, loss, vulnerability and belonging.  I have also just completed and self-published my memoir, The fourteenth Wife - A Search For Belonging, which is now available via Amazon.  

Before COVID I loved to travel and enjoyed exploring far-flung designations around the globe with my family.  But luckily I also relish being at home, cooking and walking my three dogs, Poppy, Willow and Daffodil.

You can follow Kelly at:


#kellyalder #memoir #thewritingroom #sarahbullen #kateemmerson #healing #extraordinary #debut #writing #fourteenthwife #cult #healing #trauma

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