Today, I’m helping cyber-friend, Victoria Ferrante, get the word out about HOPE, her brutally moving novel. Read what she has to say about her journey:
It was the question that started me on a six-year odyssey in writing.
Tammi, my sister-in-law, asked her question in response to a news story about a mother who murdered her autistic child and then made an unsuccessful attempt to take her own life. I cannot remember if the story came on the television or if it was in the newspaper, but what I do remember is the total look of shock on Tammi’s face.
I realized then that it was the first time she had ever heard a story like that one. Not being a part of the “World of Autism” – being or having an autistic child – she was unaware that this news event was not a singularity. It dawned on me that in each community where one of these tragedies occurred, people for whom autism was not a daily part of their lives might believe it was a one-time event, because, for whatever reason, these stories do not become national news.
I do not condone the choice these people make. My heart aches for the children who are murdered and the family members left to deal with the tragedies. But, I understand how they can happen. Caring for an autistic child is beyond difficult. It drains you physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially. My husband and I share this task, but, some moms and dads are out there doing this alone.
I decided my book would answer Tammi’s question. Obviously, it would be fiction, but I wanted to show the harsh realities of this life. So, I based a majority of my main character’s experiences upon the true events of my own life. Most books about autism appeal mostly to the people who are already a part of the World of Autism. I wanted to write a book neurotypical (normal) people would pick up and read. I wanted them understand what I already knew; how someone could do that. My Hope is those who read my book will have more empathy, will reach out, and maybe even prevent another tragedy.
I began writing Hope in a notebook with a pen, of all things, sitting on my steps as I waited for my daughter’s bus to bring her home from school every day. I had about 45 minutes each day when I started. It probably would have taken me 20 years to write Hope only working 45 minutes a day, five days a week. After a couple of years with little accomplished, I convinced my husband, Tim, I needed a laptop and made more time in my schedule for “Hope.” I set my alarm for 4:30 in the morning, weekends included, and wrote while my household slept. Some of those days I was so tired, my writing was a delirious stream of thoughts. I ran through my chores and skipped lunch. I managed to complete my first draft by early 2010.
In a move that was either brave or stupid, I posted my first chapter on Facebook. I wanted to see what type of feedback my friends would give me. Unbeknownst to me, one friend, Tim, shared my chapter with his friend, a book reviewer and editor. Jody loved my chapter and wanted to read more of my story. I hired her to edit my novel. Jody Kordana directed my stream of thoughts into a story that flowed in one powerful direction. The editing process took several months. When it was over, I had a well-written manuscript.
Then came the time I dreaded; trying to get the darn thing published. I wanted my story read ASAP. Also, I wanted control over the final decisions. I did not want someone who did not have an autistic child to possibly cut important details from my story. I decided my best choice was self-publication. I researched numerous self-publishing companies and choose iUniverse. Their website was easy to navigate and I recognized several books they had published. That sold me. After months of editing and designing the book, Hope went live on December 1, 2011.
There you have it. That is how Hope went from being a question aired at a family gathering to a novel held in your hand.
Victoria Ferrante is the mother of two children with autism. Hope is her debut novel. You can find out more about the author and how to purchase her book at http://hopethenovel.com/