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Amy Brennan, a teacher at Ernest J. King High School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has published her first book and recently held a book signing at the base’s Navy Exchange store. The book, called “My Life Has a Story: A Guided Autobiography,” is aimed at helping others write their life stories.
Amy Brennan, a teacher at Ernest J. King High School at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan, has published her first book and recently held a book signing at the base’s Navy Exchange store. The book, called “My Life Has a Story: A Guided Autobiography,” is aimed at helping others write their life stories. (Paul Brennan / Special to S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — Amy Brennan is a poet at heart. But her first published book, “My Life Has a Story: A Guided Autobiography,” is pure nonfiction.

It’s a manual guiding readers through the process of writing an autobiography.

The 27-year-old Ernest J. King High School teacher held a book signing in the Navy Exchange here earlier this month. She said she received encouragement from the community during the signing, selling all 25 copies the store had stocked.

“Most customers were people I knew from the school, but it was also great to see interest from people I didn’t know,” Brennan said.

She wants her book to assist would-be writers in putting some “histories, memories and advice down on paper,” she said. Rather than providing a general prompt followed by an intimidating blank page, the book asks specific questions. The result is an overview of the major aspects and details of an individual’s life.

“My book has a really wide audience. If you have ever thought that you have some interesting things in your life that you would like to get down on paper, this book is for you,” said Brennan, wife of Paul Brennan, also an E.J. King teacher. The couple arrived in Sasebo about two years ago.

“If you have a hard time writing anything about yourself because you just don’t know where to start, this book can help you,” she said. “If you have someone in your life that you care about, but you have never taken the time to ask some of those big questions, show him or her that you want to know them better.

“It’s your story, and it’s flexible enough for you to add information in the extra space on the page, skip over questions and add or take out entire pages.”

Brennan said she got the idea for the book after her uncle Don Warner died from lung cancer several years ago.

After his death, she “learned more about him than I ever did when he was alive,” she said. “I started thinking of putting something together, and that something just kept growing … ”

Brennan, a graduate of Butler University in Indianapolis with an English-creative writing degree, said she enjoyed writing the book, but prefers crafting poetry.

“I love the freedom of it. There are no strict guidelines,” she said. “As soon as you try to set rules for poetry, you ruin it.”

Even before college, Brennan enjoyed writing.

“When I was young, I would write stories or plays about my stuffed animals, or about things I saw in nature,” she said. “As a teenager, I would write to blow off steam or work out problems. In college, as an English major, I wrote more than I can possibly remember.”

How does her appreciation for writing blend with her teaching?

“I am, and always have been, a huge advocate for all kinds of writing,” Brennan said, adding she wants her students to know it’s possible for anyone to be an author.

“The students that know I’ve published a book are just excited to know somebody that they can look up on Amazon.com,” she said.

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