The year was 1984. I was transitioning into the 8th grade. My life was chaotic because both parents were chronically ill and my mother was schizophrenic. The summer before my 7th grade year, I’d twisted my ankle really bad and spent most of summer vacation recuperating. No biking or skating or anything really. When I got bored, which took all of five seconds, I was given a book.
I had slogged through an adult novel once before. One of Andre Norton’s. It took two years for me to finish it. I was in the 4th grade when I started it. To say I wasn’t much of a reader would be honest. I was a anomaly in a family of devoted readers but that all changed that one summer. I pulled a book out of the stack my mother brought home and my life was altered forever.
Patricia C. Wrede’s Daughter of Witches was the book I chose that summer and I must have read that book 30 times that summer. I even got brave enough to write the author and got a reply back! Ms. Wrede’s encouragement to a young person was so wonderful and created an enthusiastic desire in me to write.
My life was so chaotic then. Family violence was a topic no one discussed in the 1980s. I adapted and learned and all the feelings and issues I was working through, not knowing how else to work through other than funneling them into my writing. I wrote all the years I took care of my mother who needed long term care and supervision and medication assistance. Now, the 1980s are a distant memory and I’ve published my first novel. I don’t know if anyone else will see Joanna: A King’s Failure in the same way I did, having written it while caregiving. But just holding a copy of my own book, a piece of my own therapy, is a testament to how far I’ve come.