Thursday, September 23, 2021

Life & Style

Guilford Woman’s Struggle Provides Unwelcome but Salient Lessons, and Inspiration for a Book


Two years ago, when Genevieve Corbiere was struggling with writing a section of her book, she went into Breakwater Books and asked for advice. “They had great recommendations,” she says. Photo courtesy of Genevieve Corbiere

Two years ago, when Genevieve Corbiere was struggling with writing a section of her book, she went into Breakwater Books and asked for advice. “They had great recommendations,” she says. (Photo courtesy of Genevieve Corbiere)


Five years ago Genevieve Corbiere woke up in the middle of the night with her right leg paralyzed.

“Terrified, I struggled to move but all feeling in my right leg was gone. I fell out of bed. Feeling came back, but it wasn’t over. I was weak. My hands and feet were numb. I couldn’t spell some words. No one knew exactly what had gone wrong,” says Corbiere, who graduated from Guilford High School in 1998.

“Doctors offered several diagnoses—each one worse than the last,” she says.

Finally, they figured it out. Lyme disease.

“And I began the long effort to recover. Since then I’ve tried many paths to healing. I saw a Lyme specialist, an herbalist, an acupuncturist. I tried health diets; I tried exercise. I kept looking for a silver bullet, but instead I found small improvements, small steps,” she says. “As I got better and better, I realized that I had learned to listen to my body and that I had learned to more fully listen to the struggles of others as well.”

Corbiere’s acupuncturist suggested she write a book about Lyme disease, saying that it could help a lot of people.

“I tried. But I didn’t even really like re-reading what I had written. It was too sad and too hard. I wanted to communicate a healing journey, but I also wanted to be immersed in fun,” she says. “I wanted to plunge into a story that is bright and magical. I wanted to write something that you might actually want to read when you don’t feel well. One day as I was sitting in the audience at a music festival, surrounded by bright, fun creativity, these fictional characters appeared in my mind and I knew that this was my book.”

That book, Mimi and Ky: The Beginning, has been published by Smultron Books, her own publishing house, and is now available at Breakwater Books, the beloved local bookseller in Corbiere’s former hometown.

She says she is thrilled it’s being sold at Breakwater. Two years ago, when she was in the middle of writing Mimi and Ky, she turned to Breakwater Books, looking for inspiration.

“Two years ago when I was in the middle of writing Mimi and Ky I was struggling with the fight scenes,” she says. “I went into Breakwater Books and asked for some books with good fight scenes that I could read as examples. They had great recommendations.

“Guilford is a wonderful place to grow up,” she continues. “When I was a child the arts were encouraged in and out of the school system. I knew some amazing adults who were writers and artists in Guilford who would take the time to talk to me about art. Of course there was the incredible programming and the endless hours that I spent at the Guilford Free Library.”

She remembers writing poetry in second grade with Mrs. Kellogg.

“She believed in us as poets! It was such a gift. I thank a few of the teachers I had in the acknowledgments at the end of the book. Some other teachers I thank in more subtle ways throughout the book,” she says. “The doctors in the book all have the last names of teachers I had in school. Your teachers show up in your writing no matter what. That’s just my way of making it clear, of saying, I know what you did for me, and, thank you.”

She says her story is a superhero story, “a shapeshifter travel adventure with two heroes.” She says, while she loves superheroes, she didn’t want to create a lonely superhero, “probably because I’m married.” She now lives in southern West Virginia with her husband in what she calls “a multi-hero life.”

“Let’s face it, it’s harder to be fallible and have to work as a team, but that’s a lot of what life provides us with. One of the main characters, Ky, may be magical, but he’s not so powerful that he can get everything done by himself.”

She says the other main character, Mimi experiences a sudden illness that leads to an existential shift in her identity.

“She begins to fear the future and let go of her life as she knows it. Just as she starts to feel truly hopeless, Ky shows up and makes her reconsider both her old and new realities. Ky first appears as a dog. Dogs are the ultimate real-world superheroes. At least mine is,” she says.

“I feel as if everyone will be able identify with Mimi’s initial plight; everyone has something in their lives that is a daily struggle that provides the unwelcome but salient lessons. The story has some unexpected twists, but will ultimately meet the expectations of the superhero genre as Mimi learns what all superheroes know. Even though you may have your own internal battle, the world still needs to be saved–and it needs you to save it,” she says.

Breakwater Books is located at 81 Whitfield Street, Guilford. For hours and more information, visit To make sure they have copies of the book in stock, call 203-453-4141 or email

Pem McNerney is the Living Editor for Zip06. Email Pem at

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