The Story That Made Us Stronger


The Story That Made Us Stronger

by Iris March

GENRE:   Women's Fiction/ Cancer journey

An abandoned building. A motivated runner. A Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer survivor.

Connor Jackson has been training for a half marathon for the past six weeks. Katie Brandt has been training to beat cancer for the past 50. When Connor discovers an intriguing secret in a tiny, abandoned building on his running route, Katie finds that the mystery is what she needs to help her get through her three-week stem cell replacement procedure. Together, Conner and Katie must find the strength to achieve their personal goals and, in the meantime, expose the many past lives that the tiny building led.


The Golf Course Manager

Katie Brandt

After Connor left for the day, I was amped up as I always was after chemo. My body was worn out and aching, but my mind wouldn’t stop. I tried to take a nap but couldn’t find sleep, even with the blinds closed and all the lights off. I just kept thinking about my kids, having conversations with them in my head about why I was away from them. I was doing this stem cell replacement ordeal for them: so that their mommy wouldn’t get leukemia later in their lives. I’d promised that I’d never leave them. 

No matter the time of day, I usually had a hard time getting to sleep in this bed, in this hospital room. I dragged myself across the room and found my computer. After I settled back into bed, I searched Google Maps and found the area that Connor had pointed out before. His excitement was contagious, and now I wanted to know more about that building too. I saw the golf course and some of the trail through the trees on the satellite images. Once I clicked on the road view, I could see the building itself that Connor was talking about. It really looked old despite the grainy picture, yet somehow familiar. I wondered if I had driven past it before. I looked up the golf course and poked around their website and then the Park District’s website. 

“Someone has to know something!” I said to myself. There was a list of historical buildings that the Park District managed, but nothing about one being on or near that golf course. After twenty minutes of not finding anything to give me a single answer, I decided to just call the Park District itself. Why not? It was still only 3:45; they’d be open. I dialed the Administration Office downtown first. 

“Hello, Park District Administration Office. This is Tammy. How can I help you?” Her spiel sounded very rehearsed and overly chipper. 

“Hi, Tammy. My name is Katie. I’m a resident of Hawthorn Heights and was wondering if you guys can tell me more about an interesting building that sits along a trail I frequent. I have a bet with my friend about who can find out info about it fastest.” I could really turn on the charm when I needed to, even when I didn’t feel well. Call it a gift. When you used a person’s name and told them they were doing you a favor, they wanted to help most of the time. I was also good at seeing everyone as a person, not just someone in my way. I knew everyone had their own thing going on and tried to respect that.

“What an interesting request, Katie!” Tammy exclaimed. She was really excited about this, too, and we were both name users. I hoped she didn’t see through my charm. “Let me see if I can find it on our maps.”

About the Author:

Iris March grew up the oldest of three sisters whose names all began with the same letter. Her sisters are still her best friends. March works in the sustainability field and also writes cozy mysteries in the Succulent Sleuth Series. She lives in Ohio with her husband, young son, and three cats.

Q&A With the Author 

Thanks so much for having me on the Literary Gold blog! I’m honored to be here with you talking about my recently released novel, The Story That Made Us Stronger. It tells my sister’s story of having Hodgkin’s lymphoma while being pregnant with twins told through the life of a fictional nurse during her stem cell replacement procedure. Her nurse, Connor, is training for a half marathon and can’t stop thinking about a little abandoned budling on his running route. My sister’s character helps him with some research and encouragement from her hospital bed. You’re in both of their heads and they help each other throughout the story.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

This was the first novel that I wrote. It really stretched my creative muscles and made me learn a lot about character development, story arcs, plot structure and how to actually get to the end of a book. Writing this book helped me deal with all the big feelings I was having about my sister’s cancer journey. 

Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?

I have one more book out now: The Broken Bridge, A Succulent Sleuth Cozy Mystery. It’s the first in a series and so I have lots more books to write about those characters. All the books will center around a garden center manager, her plant shop, and the hiking trail that runs behind her garden center. As you would expect, there are a lot of succulents in the book. She starts out as a bit of a nervous character who doesn’t actually like succulents but all of her customers want them. As the series progresses, she’s going to gain confidence and an affinity for the popular plants while solving mysteries. 

Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?

Right now, I’m working on a short story that will act as a 1.5 for the Succulent Sleuth Series. It will be included in an anthology of cozy mystery short stories, A Bookworm of a Suspect. All the stories will be bookish and there will be 30 of them. Mine starts at a Plant Swap event at the local library. I’m really excited about it! 

How long have you been writing?

I was an English major in college (I had a double major in Biology and English) and have always had to do a lot of writing for work. I’ve written grant proposals, newsletters, annual reports, social media content, press releases, grant reports, sustainability reports, and all the stuff that goes along with an environmental nonprofit or higher sustainability. I also am a freelance writer for green leaning companies. So I’m always writing. And I always knew there was a book inside of me but never understood how authors could write so much and stay committed to one story and one set of characters. I was already really committed to my sister and her story so it really worked out for me. I’m not sure that I would have delved into another first book as well. 

Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?

I’d just like to encourage anyone dealing with cancer or stem cell replacement therapy. They’re hard things, weighty burdens to bear. But my sister’s cancer journey is over. She’s cancer free. And we’re all stronger and closer because of it. 

Author website




Amazon (will be in KU):

Physical book will also be on Barnes and Noble 


Iris March will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Post a Comment

Wait! Stop! Are you leaving the same old comment on all the blog pages? Try switching things up a bit. I love reading your comments, but if its the same thing each time... it feels like spam. And NO ONE likes spam...
Please make sure the comments you leave are related to the post, and are at least eight words in length.

Recent Posts

Recent Posts Widget