There aren’t many books that I’ve read that I would have a difficult time placing within a specific genre, or at least spanned across a couple of distinct styles. The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager, however, is a work that is in a class of its own, and that’s a good thing.
Part fiction, part reality, and pretty much all intensely inventive and imaginative, this real-life diary written by a teenage girl about some of the hopes and dreams that she had reveals multiple levels of the author’s reality. In fact, this book is the work of a girl named Desiree, AKA YAEL, who experienced a childhood and adolescence worlds apart from what many view as ‘normal’.
According to the editor, Regine Dubono (The author’s mother), YAEL suffered from mental illness from a young age and found family life to be a challenge. Due to those difficulties in coping with everyday events, the author was quickly labelled and placed within a mental hospital where she would be medicated to the point of losing much of her happiness and contentment that she had known before. What’s more is that due to the reaction of the medical staff charged with caring for Desiree, that same medication severely hampered her natural skill and talent as a playwright.
This book opens a window into the heart of the author and shows us just how incredibly talented she was. Her clarity in purpose while creating the scenes of her play are engaging and honest, and each line seems like a well-thought-out continuation of thoughts nurtured over time.
That said, it does take a bit of work to follow the trains of thought through to the end as there are several threads which are interwoven throughout the screenplay. There are references and concepts that jump in from out of the blue but once the writer’s mind and process is better understood, taking in this work becomes much smoother. It is different for sure, and it is eye-opening in many ways. If you are one to relish taking in the personality of the authors you read, The Fantastic Inner Life of an American Teenager will provide a full serving.
I would have appreciated footnotes and information from the editor that would have helped provide more background for certain times throughout the authors life while this diary was being written. I couldn’t help but think that I was missing pieces of vital information while reading. Other than that, this is an impressive work from an even more impressive teenage author.
Pages: 120 | ISBN: 9781312599161
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Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul helps one achieve a higher quality of life by realizing one’s own value. What was the inspiration that made you want to put your wisdom into a book?
The inspiration for writing this book came from God’s whisper. Although I have a beautiful heart, my walk in life hasn’t been so great. I love giving to other people, regardless of the color of their skin. One day I was reflecting on all the books that I’ve read and noticed that none of them spoke to my soul. I was looking for a touch of guidance and in doing so, I thought it would be a good deed to provide our youth with a book of wisdom. Now no one can say they were never informed.
This book covers many different topics from happiness to accepting criticism. What were some themes you felt were important to express in this book?
I thought it was important to express: Accepting constructive criticism, the importance of respecting our elders, appreciating and respecting woman and all of the other themes. 🙂 I can honestly say that this book is what my heart needed to express.
Why do you think some people struggle with finding value in themselves and in their lives?
I think some people struggle (as I have) with finding meaning and value for their lives because they weren’t taught about values, emotional intelligence, and how to show love to the next child, woman or man. “America, I am an example of how intelligent and compassionate your prisoners can be.”
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
My next book will be, Traits and Emotions of A Salvageable Soul, Vol. II. Truthfully, it’s already completed. In case you weren’t aware, $1.00 from every book purchased goes to St. Jude’s Children Hospital. A dollar from my next book will probably go to The Ronald McDonald House.
I can’t give away too many details, but I’m working on a deep novel titled, Silenced by a Predator’s Threat. You can look for Vol. II sometime in January or February of 2019. Please, tell the world about this book. Everyone can find me at Inkwater.com or via my Facebook link (below).
All people have their own remarkably intrinsic value, and it’s time we recognize it in ourselves and share it with the people in our lives.
From the wisdom of elders comes Traits and Emotions of a Salvageable Soul: A Conversation with a Touch of Class, a guide to growing and healing ourselves so that we can live the quality of life we were always meant to live. From life’s hard lessons, Crawford offers the reader encouragement and truth, a path for using life’s challenges to overcome and even thrive.
Don’t give up, he reminds us. Every one of us has great potential and purpose. We just need to have faith in ourselves and courage.
Posted in Book Reviews
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With Angel’s Wings, by Stephanie Collins, is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. Written as a third-person account with name changes, the author describes each and every obstacle encountered as she struggled to come to terms with her daughters’ challenges while simultaneously dealing with a long string of physicians, specialists, and therapists. Laura, as the author calls the young mother, fights an uphill battle from the moment she is told her days-old infant has a heart defect–the first of many. While facing a seemingly unending barrage of personal hurdles, Laura somehow learns to cope with the endless physical and emotional demands placed upon her family by tiny Hannah’s diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.
This author’s life story as a work of fiction is almost indescribable. I do not believe I have ever read a book that kept me as breathless and as anxious as this one. Laura’s laundry list of traumatic events ranging from her newborn’s purple feet and hands to her seizures lasting for hours on end is mentally exhausting to read. Her life is so full of twists and turns and drama surrounding Hannah’s diagnosis and subsequent health scares, the author has no need to embellish with flowery language and lengthy stretches of narrative. There is, literally, no room or time left to dress up her text. This book reads as a journal of heartache peppered with true love.
Collins is honest and open with her feelings about her daughters’ diagnoses. As Laura, she sugarcoats nothing. As strong as she is, Laura reveals her vulnerability as an overwhelmed young mother. The reader aches to watch her contemplate, time and again, a way out. Her frustration as a parent fighting her way through the healthcare system is one with which many readers will be able to relate. In addition to her day-to-day battle with fevers, seizures, hospital visits, and mounting financial woes, Laura faces the virtually indescribable audacity of an ex-husband who lacks not only both sympathy and empathy but a soul, as well.
As a parent and a teacher, I have never read a more authentic and touching account of life as a mother or a more revealing account of what caring for a child with special needs truly entails. Emily’s early signs of autism hit home with me as a teacher. No one knows the struggle of helping a child on the autism spectrum like a parent. Laura begins accommodating for Emily’s needs long before her diagnosis. She modifies, plans, and tries to remain several steps ahead of meltdowns from early on in Emily’s life. Parents of children with autism will appreciate reading about the way Laura intricately weaves a web of plans on a daily basis to compensate for Emily’s developmental delays.
Though the book is primarily focused on the battle to save Hannah and come to grips with her many needs, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating the relationship Laura develops with Daniel. Daniel, the one shining light in her darkest days, is a rather unlikely saviour. Their love, apparent from early in their friendship, is one that only intensifies through the rigors of identifying and finding ways of successfully coping with all Emily and Hannah’s needs.
There aren’t any options for stars beyond 5, so I am restricted to giving With Angel’s Wings 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s life story, now Laura and Daniel’s as well, is an absolute must-read for any parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with special needs. There is a love like no other born out of a relationship with these children, and Stephanie Collins has handed readers everywhere the key to unlock hearts and minds and build a better understanding of the struggles faced by many of our family members and friends who have children with special needs living lives like Laura’s.
Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01DL9AXAI
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Dear Emma, written by Kwen Griffeth, is a touching novel that revolves around the life of a family in the hospital waiting for a crucial moment that will equate to life or death. Their story is discovered by a caring man, Roger, who is the chaplain at the Price Hospital.
Lost in his own thoughts about his own personal life, Roger stumbles across Ben Talbet, an architect about to become a grandfather. But instead of it being a joyous occasion, Ben is convinced that he is about to lose everything he cares about- all because of a mysterious letter found on a hospital bedside table. What could this letter say that has Ben convinced he is about to lose it all?
Dear Emma is a heartfelt novel based on the significance of letters written to a woman by the name of Emma. The beginning of the novel walks you through the hospital in the eyes of a chaplain. It is here you meet nurses, doctors, patients and families all experiencing the ins and outs of hospital life. One family, in particular, has several lives on the line, and this is where you meet Ben- a loving father about to become a grandfather.
The story ventures into the past where we learn about Ben and Emma and what lead them to this important moment of their lives. Their past tragedies and losses will be shared and you will find yourself feeling a connection to the characters and their story. As the story progresses, the doubt and questions that are posed by Roger, all assist in creating a strong belief and understanding of things we may not understand.
There is a religious sentiment throughout the story and you feel as though you are involved in a special moment with Ben as he shares a personal story between the Father in Heaven and the chaplain. This interaction provoked thought between life after death and how our lives change after we lose a loved one. Dear Emma respectfully shows how love can be everlasting, and how a love between a mother and daughter is an irreplaceable bond.
The descriptive language used throughout the novel easily paints a picture of the hospital setting, with images such as the chapel, cafeteria and maternity ward easily envisioned. Kwen Griffeth’s language, however, does not take away from the importance of the story and instead compliments the plot line and the characters as they progress through the story. This novel tugged at the heart strings and will feel the reader’s heart with warmth and love. The storyline is always fast paced, and even though it isn’t a typical action novel, it kept me on my toes, eager to learn what happens to the family and the letters.
I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a beautiful, feel good story with a little twist at the end! Dear Emma is a journey of love, life and grief and how love surpasses time, death and life.
Pages: 115 | ASIN: B00770I2HO
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Birth to the Stilldead tells the story of a young doctor, Tel, and a necromancer, Aarne, who fight off increasingly disturbing supernatural occurrences while working in a cancer ward at a hospital. Why did you choose a hospital for the setting of the story?
I spend lots of time wandering around a particular hospital as a Literacy Program volunteer, so this cavernous and labyrinthine layout is something I’m familiar with. Also, there’s lots of strange rooms and hallways that I’m not allowed access to, which sets my mind wandering with story possibilities.
Aarne is both a mysterious and perplexing character. He listens to the dead and knows what they want. What was your inspiration for building his character?
The idea of being a modern day wizard is very appealing. Having access to forces that aren’t recognized by science and using them to run gung-ho over the world. However, it would be tough to remain a good person with that kind of power. Aarne makes no moral calculations whatsoever and pursues the work for the sake of knowledge and power. In reality, people like that cause tremendous damage, but in fiction they’re endlessly fascinating.
Many of the children that Tel is treating have cancer. I thought you did a great job capturing the emotional turmoil and pain that families go through in these situations. What kind of research did you do for this novel to ensure you captured the essence of what it meant to be diagnosed with cancer?
Thanks. The atmosphere of an Inpatient Pediatrics unit is one I’ve spent some time in. However, not being privy to personal conversations between doctors and patients/parents, I sought out personal stories and training information.
Are you a fan of the supernatural horror genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
Supernatural horror is my favorite genre. I love the worldview it espouses. Not only is the universe amoral and indifferent at best, but also, laws of physics are merely accidental conveniences and in reality, anything can happen. Thomas Ligotti is a huge influence along these ideological lines, although I don’t try to write like him. His stories are more philosophical fables on the nature of horror rather than plot-driven. Clive Barker’s supernatural horror is one of my earliest and all encompassing influences. He marrys a cinematic scene-style of writing along with deep ideas and poetic descriptions which is exactly how novels are supposed to work.
What is the next book you are working on?
It’s called BirdTorn Tapestry and is about a man adjusting to his new office job, which starts to resemble a mystical initiation into a group he cannot escape from. Another novella, a bit surreal but still a horror story. My goal is to publish a new work every six weeks or so, and I’ve got quite a few lined up, so keep your eyes peeled.
Struggling young doctor Tel Hunniset becomes the interest of rogue necromancer Aarne Soars, who is able to blend seemlessly in with hospital personnel. Together, they save the lives of many children dying of an epidemic, with Tel getting all the credit. As supernatural events increasingly intrude upon Tel’s life, he is forced to confront the terrible cost of his actions upon the dead.
Posted in Interviews
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Vera Mortina is a medical fiction novel about a sordid doctor that begins work at a medical practice where strange and deadly things begin to happen. The tag line, ‘when the patient is not the sick one’, is chillingly appropriate. What was your inspiration for Dr. Vera Mortina’s character and her troubled disposition?
I interact with a number of professionals who have rather troubling dispositions, some are physicians, some are nurses, administrators, patients, lawyers and others. How little do we really know about those “difficult” people we have to work with every day? This led to a fictional account developed on the theme of Dangerous Doctors.
There was a lot of time spent crafting the character traits in this novel. What was the most important factor for you to get right in your characters?
The most difficult and yet the most crucial characteristic of Dr Vera Mortina was to convincingly portray how she could function so well as a medical professional and yet be so dangerously disturbed. How she could create such a believable façade that even her partner wanted to get closer to her, and not run away. Her partner was so skilled in his profession, yet he was really blind for a long time, he was drawn to Dr Vera like a moth attracted to the candle light.
I felt that there were a lot of great twists and turns throughout the novel. Did you plan this before writing the novel, or did the twists present themselves as you were writing?
I conceived the general outline and worked on the development as a thought project for a long time before writing it down and developing from an outline. It all revolved around Dr Vera, and she led me to uncover some of the dangerous things she was really up to.
Vera Mortina is a part of your Dangerous Doctors series. What will the next book in that series be about and when will it be published?
At this point, my writing efforts are going to frequently revisiting the writing of the other three Dangerous Doctors, to refine the presentations and address many of the questions you asked above. This includes the theme of excess commercialization of in vitro fertilization clinics in The Surrogate, how the paranoia of aging could effect a physician in Her Charm was Contageous, and the relentless desire for immortality and money in a biotech researcher in BloodBird. Fostering believability is always an issue.
Chosen in a rush, Dr. Vera Mortina joins a small medical group, but without adequate exploration of her rather unusual background. Her sudden arrival is accompanied by acrimony, odd and disturbing idiosyncratic behaviors, and the unexpected deaths of several patients and staff. The closer Dr. Richard Bates looks into Vera, with her violent thoughts and bizarre hobbies, the more imperiled his own life becomes.
Posted in Interviews
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The Surrogate is a medical thriller about a nurse that undergoes in vitro fertilization and then realizes that some of her eggs have been stolen. This sets off a dramatic chain of events. What was your inspiration for creating a medical thriller involving IVF?
IVF is an area that has a lot of mystique and attraction, especially to women. Some become either more concentrated or fixed on having a baby or obsessed with having a baby in some cases. It is also big business, which is not something that a lot of people are aware of. The potential for the problems described in The Surrogate definitely exists. And I didn’t even address issues with sex-selective abortion and selecting for certain characteristics such as intelligence, strength, attractiveness.
Through the story Marina is fighting against corporate greed. Do you think that corporate greed is prevalent in real world medicine?
Corporate greed is definitely present in real medicine, great examples are elective surgical procedures, IVF, cosmetic surgery, medication prices, and executive salaries at nonprofit hospitals.
In the book synopsis you state that IVF is in a ‘very corporate world’. Do you think there is anything in The Surrogate that can only happen in a story? Is there anything in your book that you think happens in real life?
While I cannot comment on what actually happens in real life, I can definitely say that the potential for much of the Surrogate exists in real life.
The Surrogate has many well developed characters. What was your favorite character to write for?
My favorite character is Marina because she is a prototype for many people that do work in healthcare field. She was the easiest to develope her complex characteristics and personality.
Marina Bonnaserra, a young administrative nurse realizes that her life as a SINK lacks any deeper meaning. Prodded on by a series of piercing comments, she considers having a child. Knowing that the only man in her life is non-committal, and against fatherhood, she explores in vitro fertilization. In the very corporate world of IVF, Marina is stimulated to produce eggs, rapidly assigned an anonymous sperm donor, and awaits implantation. She soon discovers that not all of her fertilized eggs can be accounted for, leading her to a desperate quest against corporate greed to locate her own missing “products of conception.” Can her one passion protect her from her one obsession?
Posted in Interviews
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BloodBird by Dimitri Markov is part of his Dangerous Doctors series. It is a futuristic novel that explores the possibilities of technological and medical advances. The novel focuses on a young female doctor named Karolena who discovers her chronic liver disease has worsened as she begins to lose her vision. When an unknown donor is presented, Karolena undergoes an experimental transplant which could save both her life and her vision. After the surgery, Karolena develops an interesting ability to see events from the past and into the future. This newfound ability causes her to find out the truth behind the business operations of her hospital, a truth she may not want to know. She tries to find the answers she desires, but quickly learns she can trust no one.
BloodBird is an interesting look into where medical and technological research can expand. It is an interesting look into what the future could hold. The story is a little slow to begin, but it really picks up as Karolena begins to experience her ‘visions’. The author does a good job and roping the reader into the story with well-developed characters and descriptions. There are some dialogue that comes off as being too cliché such as “I am Penny Forest’s mother, and I am here to avenge her death. I loved her very much.” There are plenty of other ways to say the same thing and garner a reaction from the readers. The novel is a hit and miss when it comes to predictability; some things were predictable but there were other wild plot twists that take the reader by surprise. Couple that with Markov’s ability to create complex and interesting characters and you’ll easily lose track of time as your furiously flipping through pages.
Markov spends a lot of time with descriptions and building the setting and tone of the story. He has a unique way of telling his story and getting the readers engaged into the story. At times it feels like he prolongs the story on purpose to make the reader more interested. While these moments seem to drag on, I continued to read the story because of a strong connection to the characters that made me want to find out where the tale will take them. The author creates an interesting futuristic world with things that seem like science fiction, like the transference of people’s memories, and makes them ever so subtly believable.
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy future novels, medical experimentation novels, even those who enjoy mysteries. I think BloodBird by Dimitri Markov is a genre crossing novel that would appeal to a variety of people looking for an entertaining read on late nights. It’s slow to develop, but delivers a lot.
Pages: 450 | ISBN: 1517707617
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