Interview with Timothy Spillane, author of Four Before Their Time

November is "National Prematurity Awareness Month" (Nov. 17 is "World Prematurity Day").There are nearly a half million babies born prematurely in this country every year. 

Title: Four Before Their Time
Author: Timothy Spillane
Publisher: Skitterbird, LLC
Pages: 342
Genre: Memoir
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Anne had it all. She was a physician, an Army officer, and a great wife. She'd be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short-lived after an ultrasound reveals that Anne isn't just pregnant, she's really pregnant - with quadruplets! Now her dad, Tim Spillane, is a grandfather four times over, and much too soon. Just 24 weeks into her pregnancy, Anne delivered, and not one of Tim's grandkids weighs more than half a mug of coffee. So underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, the odds of just one of them surviving - let alone all four - are heartbreakingly low. And even if the children pull through, they face the likelihood of disabilities so severe that they'd have no real quality of life. It all seems hopeless until Tim's wife observes that just seeing the quads is like "being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother's womb." Four Before Their Time is the true story of four babies surviving on a razor's edge, one mom's overwhelming and guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and an entire family's experiences with extreme premature birth. It will take all the faith, hope, and resilience the Spillane family can muster - along with more than a few miracles - just to get the quadruplets home.

For More Information

  • Four Before Their Time is available at Amazon.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Tim.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?

A: From an early age I got a lot of support from my parents and that helps me to believe in myself. I remember that I liked drawing more than writing when I was young. My dad encouraged me to put my drawings into stories. My mom made sure that I knew the importance of being able to write well. Funny thing is that though I could write well from an early age I never really felt I had a story to tell until my grandchildren were born.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?

A: It’s a family memoir. It’s also a story that just needed to be told. I really believe it has the power to touch other people facing very difficult times.
   Our daughter Anne is a physician, an Army officer and a great wife. We knew she’d be a great mom, too. But the joy of pregnancy is short lived when she learns she isn’t just pregnant, she’s really pregnant – with quadruplets.
   When Anne’s health deteriorates so rapidly that her pregnancy threatens her very life, the babies are delivered at 24 weeks. Not one weighs as much as a half a mug of coffee. They are so underdeveloped that even calling them babies feels wrong, and the odds of just one of them surviving – let alone all four – are heartbreakingly low. Hope begins to surface, however, when Anne’s mom notes that just seeing the quads is like “being allowed a glimpse into the miracle that grows in a mother’s womb.”
   Four Before Their Time tells the gut-wrenching story of my four grandbabies’ struggle to live, my daughter’s guilt-ridden entrance into parenthood, and our entire family’s experiences with extreme premature birth. Ultimately, it’s a triumphant story of love and survival that is almost too remarkable to believe.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?

A: It was such an emotional time for our family. Living through it was sheer chaos so the challenge of writing about it was trying to order the facts and the emotions in a coherent way that wouldn’t flat-out overwhelm the reader. Plus, I didn’t take any notes while Anne’s babies were in the hospital. I had to piece things back together from emails, medical documents and memory.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?

A: We’re still working on a press kit. I’m a first time author and am just trying to figure out the whole marketing thing.

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?

A: As a member of the Board of Directors for Graham’s Foundation ( I do get opportunities to speak about the difficult journey of prematurity and its after math. Last week I spoke at the Annual Convention of Pediatric Nurses to help them understand the parents’ / grandparents’ perspective of the neonatal intensive care unit. It’s so frightening and isolating. As wonderful as most of the NICU nurses I’ve known have been it always helps to remind them of the human aspect of the babies’ families they serve. I’ll have similar opportunities to speak at some of the larger hospitals in our area in coming months. I’m still looking forward to radio and TV appearances.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?

A: We worked really hard to find an agent but had no success. I’m still looking!

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?

A: I’m probably a little old-school when I say this, but I still like to believe that a book can make it in the marketplace on its own merits. We haven’t tried doing a media blitz yet. That’s something we’ll work on for the future.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

A: I’m thinking about writing a children’s book – a book that parents of premature babies can read to their children during those long, scary days in the neo-natal intensive care unit. I write in my book about reading to my daughter’s babies while they were still in her womb. The story I read them – Annie Proulx’s wonderful short story, Deep-Blood-Greasy-Bowl – was hardly a children’s story, but I believe that sharing it created a bond between us. And my daughter loved that I did it.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Tim.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: You’re welcome!

 I also post regularly on Facebook on my book page ( ) and my author page (

And we have a great video trailer that people love on Four Before Their Time’s website: or watch it on YouTube at


Tim and his wife live in Chester County, PA and are the parents of three daughters. They became grandparents when their daughter, Anne delivered quadruplets in April, 2010. A graduate of Colorado College (1979) with a degree in English Literature, Tim returned to school to earn his Masters of Public Health from Drexel University in 2005. He has worked in residential construction for more than three decades but is now focusing full-time on his writing. He currently serves on the executive board of Graham's Foundation, an organization for parents and families going through the journey of prematurity. For More Information
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