A Vermont woman who was nearly killed in an explosion during a family vacation in the Bahamas is out with a brand-new memoir — which is launching next week with a party in Rutland.
The book, titled "Without Any Warning: Casualties of a Caribbean Vacation," traces the long journey of Stefanie Schaffer and all she has learned through facing adversity head-on.
"I wasn’t going to be defined by that day," Schaffer told NECN & NBC10 Boston, insisting she doesn’t want anyone to see her merely for what she lost in the 2018 tour boat explosion that made headlines worldwide.
Instead, the Rutland woman’s new book focuses on all she has found since that disaster.
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"It ends up being a happy story about healing," Schaffer said of her memoir.
Schaffer has healed from a double amputation and other massive injuries and physical traumas.
NECN & NBC10 Boston has been following her journey for several years, including when she was in a Cambridge, Massachusetts hospital recovering and when she was first fitted for prosthetics.
In recent years, Schaffer has become a public speaker and an advocate for accessibility, as well as for blood donation.
In an interview Friday about the new book, Schaffer said she has grown in many ways since the fateful boat trip. One person died and nine others were injured in the accidental explosion, which occurred in the boat’s engine.
"It just forced me to become stronger, and more confident," Schaffer told NECN & NBC10 Boston. "Being a young woman going through it, we think, you know, our physical appearance is what matters the most, and to have that change so drastically, it forced me to really say, 'This is who I am now.' And I need to be confident and love myself for who I am now, and I think was the most important lesson I could’ve ever learned."
The 25-year-old said she absolutely couldn’t have turned tragedy into triumph without her family, friends, support from the Rutland community, and her large medical team — many of whom helped add detail and context to the new book.
"I think it’s important to remind ourselves that it’s so much easier to notice what we don’t have than it is to remind ourselves of everything that we do have," Schaffer said. "I think it’s important to know that one change in your direction, whether it be, you know, maybe you get fired from a job or you fail a class in college or something, it might seem like the end of the world in that moment. But I guarantee you you’re going to find a different path, and it’s probably going to bring you exactly where you were meant to go the entire time."
The author is hosting a launch party for her new book on Tuesday, March 29 at an event space in Roots the Restaurant in Rutland. It is from 4-7 p.m., and will feature food, music, and book signings.
After that, the memoir will be available at local bookshops and through at least two prominent online book retailers.
More information about upcoming events and availability will be posted on the author’s website, she said.
Keep an eye out for Stefanie Schaffer in advertising in the future, as well. She said she is now doing modeling for international fashion and lifestyle brands, including Kim Kardashian’s line, SKIMS.