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SHELF LIFE: Lee Woodruff’s personal experiences form basis of her new novel
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Shelf Life

SHELF LIFE: Lee Woodruff’s personal experiences form basis of her new novel

Lee Woodruff knows all the sudden twists of fate that can send our lives careening in what seems like nanoseconds. Her husband, ABC's Bob Woodruff, suffered a devastating head injury after an IED exploded nearby while he was embedded with the U.S. military during the Iraqi War. The couple explored the aftermath of the explosion — which included a portion of Bob’s skull being replaced with plastic — in their book "In an Instant," and Lee followed up with a collection of her essays in "Perfectly Imperfect."

Now Woodruff has used these themes of loss, grief and resiliency in her latest work, a novel titled "Those We Love the Most" (Hyperion/Voice, $26.99).

“Writing a novel is what I always wanted to do,” says Woodruff, the mother of four and a part-time on-air contributor to "CBS This Morning" as well as a blogger. “But it’s earlier than I thought I’d do it.”

The impetus for the novel occurred when Woodruff received a phone call from a friend about a 17-year-old driver who had accidentally hit and killed a kid riding a bike.

“That was my son’s age at the time,” says Woodruff, who was immediately struck by how the tragedy encompassed everyone – the young driver and his family as well as the family of the teenager who died. “It was a nightmare for everyone and I thought I could do a 360 about everyone and their fear, their uncertainty and their sorrow.”

None of the characters in her book are straight from real life, though she does use a pastiche of events in her own life including her 80-year-old father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s.

“There’s bits of me all over the book in the different characters,” says Woodruff. “I found that I could write those moments authentically.”

Though the subject is sad (Woodruff says there’s no greater loss she can imagine than losing a child), she also wanted to show readers the necessity for resiliency, the need to come together and the importance of family.

“There’s a quote I love though I’m not sure where it came from – loss is not the end, it’s merely an invitation to change,” says Woodruff. “That’s how I look at it.”

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