Q&A with ‘Beautiful Scars’ Author Kilee Brookbank

Kilee Brookbank was just sixteen years old when she suffered severe burns in a house fire that would change the course of her life forever. Now nineteen, Kilee is a college student, author, speaker, and philanthropist who has found the beauty in her scars and uses her story to inspire readers and listeners of all ages. Get to know the brave young woman behind Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined.

What prompted you to share with the world your personal story as a burn survivor?

I wanted to share my story because I realized there are plenty of other people in the world who have gone through the same things as I have or who could relate to my story in some way. I want to be someone for those people to look up to and to look to for guidance, and I felt like my story had a way of helping people get through any issues that might come up in their lives.

As you wrote the book, did you learn anything new about yourself? Did the writing process give you an added perspective on what you had been through?

Writing the updated edition of Beautiful Scars was something I felt needed to happen. A lot of things have gone on in my life since we wrote the first book. I have changed as a person, and so has my entire life. While going back through and rewriting it, I kept thinking about everything I have been through. I have always appreciated what has come of my hard times, and the writing process has helped me to get where I am today emotionally.

In what ways has being a survivor caused you to redefine your life?

Being a burn survivor has made me want to do much more than I ever imagined before the accident. I want to give back and especially want to be someone that people can look up to. Ever since the accident, I have never let my experiences or my scars define me; I have always been true to who I am. I have redefined how I think of life and the purpose that everyone has in their lives. Being a burn survivor has made me a better person.

You wear your scars proudly. What do they mean to you?

They signify that I have been through something horrible and came out on the other side just as happy as I was when I didn’t have scars. Some people would be embarrassed or uncomfortable wearing their scars proudly and letting them be visible, but I choose to not think of it as something I need to be ashamed of. People who see your scars don’t know how it feels to be proud of yourself for getting through one of the hardest things. Of course, I am always going to catch people looking, but I don’t let it bother me. I just brush it off.

In a world that is so focused on how women look, what are your words of wisdom for embracing our bodies as they are? How do you challenge the standards of what “beauty” is?

These days, women are constantly worried about body image and their self-confidence. Having scars, I know how it feels to be looked at and examined out of curiosity or whatever it might be. I choose to not let it bother me or let it get me down, which is what I think every woman should do. No one is perfect, and no matter what, people are always going to care for you because of who you are and not what you look like. My advice for any woman who might be struggling with embracing her body would be to not let anyone’s words define who you are. You might not look what society calls “normal,” and that’s okay. It is no one’s business to judge someone based on what others look like. Beauty is on the inside just as much as, if not more than, it is on the outside.

A portion of the proceeds of your book benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati. What do you want people to know about Shriners Hospitals?

Shriners Hospitals do incredible work. They are an amazing team, and I have nothing but good things to say about them. No matter what, they always put their patients’ care and their patients’ families first. That is what is so amazing about them: They understand what patients and families are going through, and they are willing to do anything and everything they can to help people.

What do you hope readers take away from Beautiful Scars: A Life Redefined?

I want them to take away all the positives and use them in their everyday lives. Dwelling on the negative can be consuming to a person, and that is something that can make your own life, as well as the lives of others around you, miserable. It is important that readers know I appreciate all the support I have in my life and that I love being able to be someone others can look up to. It is an honor to know I can help just one person, and that is why I try my hardest to inspire people.

‘Beautiful Scars’ Wins Ben Franklin Award

Beautiful Scars, the first book published by KiCam Projects, won the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Inspirational Book, presented by the Independent Book Publishers Association on April 7 in Portland, Oregon.

Beautiful Scars is the story of burn survivor Kilee Brookbank, told together by Kilee and her mom, Lori Highlander, founder of KiCam Projects. The desire to share Kilee’s story of determination, hope, and healing inspired Highlander’s decision to start KiCam as a way to give voice to other authors with remarkable stories of survival and recovery.

“We are thrilled to receive this award, and we thank the IBPA for honoring us and for supporting indie publishers every day,” Highlander says. “We have an exceptional team at KiCam, and we’re telling exceptional stories. Our family’s story is only the beginning. There is so much more in store!”

Kilee and Lori will be signing Beautiful Scars June 1 at Book Expo America in New York City.

 

Beautiful-Scars-Book

‘Beautiful Scars’ Finalist for Benjamin Franklin Award

Beautiful Scars, the debut by authors Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander, has been named a finalist for an Independent Book Publishers Association Benjamin Franklin Award, to be presented April 7.

Beautiful Scars, the story of Kilee’s recovery from being severely burned in a house fire in 2014, is a finalist in the Inspirational category. The Benjamin Franklin Awards are among the most prestigious honors for independent presses like KiCam.

A portion of the proceeds of the sales of Beautiful Scars will benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children-Cincinnati, where Kilee spent 38 days healing after the fire. Beautiful Scars was the first book published by KiCam, and Lori and Kilee will be signing copies of the book at Book Expo America on June 1 in New York City.

See the complete list of Benjamin Franklin Award finalists here.

 

Rave Reviews for ‘Beautiful Scars’

Beautiful Scars_3D CoverWe’ve been delighted by the outstanding reviews we’ve received for “Beautiful Scars,” by Kilee Brookbank and Lori Highlander.

Here’s a recap:

Foreword Clarion Reviews: “This book will touch the hearts of mothers and daughters across different life experiences, and it will provide hope and encouragement to people who have lived through traumatic injury and recovery or helped children through such a harrowing process. Both Kilee and her mother offer their honest insights, not denying the pain and despair they felt, even as they cling unwaveringly to hope.”

Ryley Reads: “This is such an emotional, inspiring story, it is hard for me to put into words how I feel about this book. … In terms of writing, I think everything flowed well, I liked the alternative perspectives, and I really loved the parts where Cameron added his thoughts.”

Live to Read: “I really liked that the story was told from the perspective of Kilee and her mom, Lori. Lori’s perspective made me think about the emotions and difficulties moms go through when something happens to their children. … I found the book interesting and a worthwhile read as a whole. I learned much more about the aftermath of a burn than my sister or I do in medical school. This book is worth a second look!”

We’re thrilled and grateful for all of the positive feedback!

If you’ve enjoyed “Beautiful Scars,” please consider leaving a review on Amazon.com. Positive reviews lead to better promotion on Amazon, which is a huge boost for independent publishing houses like KiCam Projects. 

Shriners Visits Make for a Special Summer

Book launch at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital

Book launch at Cincinnati Shriners Hospital

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to visit a few different Shriners Hospitals for Children locations across the country in order to meet people who have had life-changing experiences similar to my own. I wanted to inspire people at the different hospitals and share my story beyond the Cincinnati area. I also wanted to hear other people’s stories and learn about what they’re going through. The opportunities I had were amazing, and I had such a great time!

First, I started with my book launch for “Beautiful Scars” in May in Cincinnati. It was such a cool experience! During the book signing, I met some new patients and saw some of the patients with whom I’d been in the hospital. It was neat to see all the children who had been in the hospital at the same time I was, because just like me, they also had healed and gotten much better. I also saw some of my nurses, doctors, and therapists while we were there. That was definitely one of the best parts, because I hadn’t seen some of them since the day I left the hospital, and since then, I had grown and healed so much. It was the best feeling to know all of my nurses, doctors, and therapists were so proud of how far I have come.

Sacramento

Northern California Shriners visit

In June, we visited Northern California Shriners Hospital in Sacramento. We met with some of the employees, as well as some of the patients. My mom and I spoke to about thirty people, including parents of patients. This was a new challenge for me, because most people in attendance were native Spanish speakers. We had a translator, so I had to learn how to speak in short sentences and still get my message across. It turned out very well, and I got to sign a few of their books, one person’s hat, and another person’s T-shirt. I think they enjoyed themselves while I was there.

My favorite of all the visits was spending time at Boston Shriners Hospital, because that’s where I was the most involved with children. The city was beautiful, which made us love this trip even more. The best part was going on a field trip with the kids through the Team Brave program. Hospital staff, with the help of Boston firefighters, take patients to different places around the city each month. When I visited in early August, Team Brave spent the afternoon at a paint-and-party location, where an instructor teaches you how to paint a certain picture. While the instructor is telling you what to do, he or she also walks around and looks at the work, plays music, and talks with everyone. I really enjoy painting, so that was great for me. I also got to meet so many amazing people on this visit. I was able to hang out with a lot of different people whom I never would have met otherwise. In particular, I met a very special friend. She is from Ireland and has the coolest accent. We just clicked right away, and because of this visit, we will always be friends who stay connected on social media.

Painting with a new friend in Boston

Painting with a new friend in Boston

My summer has been very busy, and at times it felt like I needed a break, but without all of this traveling, I would have never been able to meet the special people that I did. I am so happy I was able to visit multiple hospitals and meet so many people. Each one of the visits was special in its own way.

I enjoyed every minute of this summer, and I especially enjoyed getting the opportunity to visit places I had never been before. This is a summer I will never forget—one of the best ones yet. I hope I can continue to travel to different places while telling my story and connecting with all kinds of people because of it.

Beautiful Scars Review: Ryley Reads

A New Outlook on Relationships

Kilee with some of her beloved family

Kilee with some of her beloved family

Relationships are always a huge part of everybody’s life. They are constantly changing, for a lot of different reasons. For me, going through a completely life-altering experience has changed all of my relationships.

I am closer with my family and with most of my friends. In particular, my brother and I have gotten super close. We used to be very distant from each other and never wanted to be around each other. Now we are closer and like to hang out together. We don’t fight, and we always have a good time. I credit that to the accident and how I changed my outlook on life and on the relationships around me.

I’m also super close to most of my friends. We all realized that we care about each other and we don’t want to be immature about little things that can affect relationships.

In some cases, though, I’ve grown apart from people. I have come to accept the fact that change happens in every relationship, and I’m OK with that. I understand there is no way around it, and that in fact it can be a good thing in the end.

I always strive to be the bigger and better person in every situation, and I don’t do anything to hurt someone intentionally. That said, I don’t tolerate being walked all over and made a fool of. I value my relationships, and I never take them for granted. I like to be mature and civil about things, and sometimes people have problems with that. I think realizing all of these things is a natural part of life that people go through to grow up and help get them to the next stage in their lives.

For me, the fire and my recovery taught me not to let small things bother me, especially in relationships. You can lose someone—you can lose everything—so quickly. It’s not worth it to dwell on silly things. I want to enjoy the people I’m with, and I want to show them how much I care about them. Every day is a new opportunity, and I don’t want to waste a minute.

As I get ready to leave for college, I know I’ll probably lose touch with some people who have been in my life. I think that’s another natural part of life, though; people are with you for a certain time for certain reasons, and that’s perfectly OK.

I’ve tried to spend my time since the accident being a better person, someone who makes the world better for others. I know I’m not perfect! But I know myself and I know I have a good heart, and I feel confident about who I am and who I’m becoming.

I think that if you try to do your best every single day, and you treat people well and with love, those relationships are what makes your life beautiful and meaningful.

Want to learn more about Kilee Brookbank? Read her book, “Beautiful Scars“!