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From teacher to author

North Fort Myers Neighbor Living special feature: North Fort Myers resident finds inspiration in husband’s journey

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Jun 16, 2021

Theresa Corbley Siller with her latest book. MICHAEL PISTELLA

A teacher of 35 years shifted her career path after her husband became her inspiration to publish her first book.

Theresa Corbley Siller, a North Fort Myers resident, said she has taught kindergarten, fourth grade and high school students in public schools, as well as kiddos at dance studios across the country.

Although she thoroughly enjoyed the ideas her students came up with, especially the creative, fresh, enthusiastic ideas of her dance students, a trip to a bookstore changed her path.

“My husband had trouble with compulsive overeating his whole life,” Siller said. “One time I was at the bookstore and saw an Overeaters Anonymous book.”

That book made her wonder if her husband, 300 pounds on a 5 foot 9 inch frame with terrible blood work and one heart attack would benefit him. She remembered telling her husband he better not die on her, especially with three children.

Theresa Corbley Siller in her writing nook inside her North Fort Myers home. MICHAEL PISTELLA

“He read all the stories in it and said ‘this is me’ and then joined Overeaters Anonymous and got a sponsor,” Siller said, adding that he followed the program tools, which included spirituality.

Her husband lost more than 105 pounds and ran a Marine Corps Marathon on two titanium hips, which completely inspired his wife. It was then that she published “From Torment to Triumph, A Story of Hope” in 2013.

“My husband has to work very hard. He is accountable for his calories. He records it every day for his sponsors. He does everything sugar free. He is good with salads and very careful of his portions. God is helping him to try to control the bingeing. It’s an ongoing life battle,” Siller said. “I’m very proud of him. He is 66 now and he is like a 40 year old man.”

That story got her thinking about how teenagers struggle too with obesity, which ignited her latest book “Meredith’s Triumph,” which was published by Inspiring Voices. The 113 page young adult fiction novel is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble for $11.95.

“I wrote about Meredith, a high school sophomore and borrowed so many things from my husband’s story for the book,” Siller said. “One time the girls and I made a gingerbread house and he ate the whole house. They take a bite of a brownie and eat six brownies. I pulled all that from his stories.”

Meredith, like her husband, runs a race towards the end of the book, a 10K.

Before her husband tackled his first marathon, Siller said she would get him out to go for a walk around the block, which was referred to as “the death march.” From there the couple continued to increase the distance.

“A friend at work said do you want to run a marathon with me,” she said, adding that he trained and downloaded a training schedule. “It is such a God thing. He tried every diet in the book. None of those diets have the spiritual piece of get down on your knees and pray for control over the day.”

The goal of “Meredith’s Triumph,” Siller said is for one high school student struggling with weight to pick up the book and find an Overeaters Anonymous program to help them get tools and control over their struggle with weight.

She said her husband now has knowledge and awareness of overeating and if he falls off the wagon, the very next day he gets control again.

Siller is working on her next young adult fiction novel, which tells the story about a group of nine teenagers.

Instead of writing an outline for her novels, Siller has multiple notebooks laying around in such places as her nightstand, purse and car, so when a line strikes her she can jot it down for her book. She also has index cards throughout the house that also has ideas penned down.

“I don’t do an outline. I have an idea on the brain and sometimes it takes on a life of their own,” Siller said.

The written word has also been soul cleansing as her latest book addresses such topics as bullying, something she experienced growing up. She said although she did not have the strength or confidence in herself when it was happening, it came through when writing Meredith’s character.

“It’s nice to have my characters show a spine,” Siller said. “Meredith finally stands up for herself and that felt good. I never did that as a kid.”

Young adults will be able to take a journey with Meredith as she navigates the pitfalls of food addiction recovery through a backdrop of humor, enduring friendship and sweet romance.

Before writing her novels, Siller had written articles for magazines, as well as a column, “Rising Stars” for the Cape Coral Daily Breeze. NFMNL