Today we inaugurate the English version of Universo la Maga publishing an interview with Stephanie Collins, author of «With Angel’s Wings»:
(Hoy inauguramos nuestra sección de Universo la Maga en Inglés con la entrevista a la escritora Stephanie Collins, autora de «Con las alas de ángel», que recientemente reseñábamos en Universo la Maga)
What readers will find in «With Angel’s Wings»?
With Angel’s Wings is my story. In what felt like the blink of an eye, I went from being a young woman wrestling with a temperamental marriage to a single mother of an asthmatic, autistic toddler and an epileptic infant in heart failure. There were suddenly an overabundance of WTF moments, OMG moments, and “I can’t even remotely believe this is happening” moments. I began writing therapeutically because I would think, “Oh, I handled that horribly; I’m such a rotten mother.” But as I wrote, I found my recollections came in layers. I would first write what happened (like, the baby stopped breathing in my arms, but I didn’t start CPR right away as I should have). Then I’d remember, “oh yeah, this was going on, too” (like, the fact that I was a young, sleep-deprived, postpartum mother who had just bore witness to hours of failed IV attempts, was reeling over a rare, potentially fatal diagnosis, holding onto hope for survival, but not having any idea what that survival would actually mean for me or my baby, while simultaneously preparing myself for the very real possibility of her passing, oh and also “mourning the death of the healthy child I thought I had” before her diagnosis). Then it would hit me that 3 other things were happening at the same time (for instance, a failing marriage, pathetic financial woes, and my other daughter’s increasingly bizarre behaviors), and so…if that portion of my parenting career didn’t exactly resemble June Cleaver, well…no wonder! Those were some pretty extreme circumstances!
Then other people (specifically nurses and therapists) began to read what I had written, and said things like, “Wow, I’m working with another mom right now, I’m certain she’s struggling with the feelings you wrote about here, but she doesn’t seem comfortable sharing her thoughts. I think she feels ashamed. I think reading something like this would really help her to know she’s not alone and that the way she’s responding to what life is throwing at her right now is only natural.” After enough people said similar things about my writing I decided to take a deep breath, close my eyes, and bear my exposed, bleeding heart to the world. I figured if sharing my tale would help just one family facing similar challenges, my fear of criticism from the rest of the reading world would all be worth it.
On the book’s website (www.withangelswings.net) there is an «Ask the Author Forum» where you invite readers to ask questions. How did the idea of this section arise?
As I said, my hope for sharing With Angel’s Wings was that it would help others facing similarly difficult situations. Another hope was that it would enlighten “typical folks” – people who have no exposure to the realities of special needs in their own lives. That being said, my story certainly doesn’t “say it all”. If a reader is left with questions, I want to try to answer them. And I certainly don’t have all the answers – if one reader can help another reader, all the better; especially if it results in a lasting, supportive friendship!
What would you recommend to parents of special needs kids.?
I suggest two specific “rules” for parents of special needs kids:
Focus on today. And if that’s too overwhelming, focus on the hour or even just the minute. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by fears of the [unknown] future, and that doesn’t serve you, your child, or the rest of your family. It will only sap your limited reserves of energy. So breathe and just concentrate on the moment at hand.
Find someone to talk to… someone you can trust, someone you can be completely honest with. Once you have found this person, open up. Special needs parenting is an experience of conflicting emotions. We love our children, but we hate what they are going through and what we are force to go through for them. I love my daughter. I hate that I’m approaching my 23rd year of changing diapers and cleaning poop out of the tub on bath days. I love my daughter. I hate seeing her in respiratory distress in the back of an ambulance on the way to the hospital with yet another seizure. If I can ONLY speak of my love for her, that leaves me filled with my frustrations…that can easily turn into self-loathing and/or resentment over time. That does nobody any good. You have to be able to voice your truth – all of it…so find someone you can do that with.
The Spanish version of your book has been recently published. Will it be translated into other languages in the future?
I would love to translate With Angel’s Wings to other languages. I’m currently working on recording it, and hope to have an [English] audio version available this coming Fall. Translating is an expensive and time-consuming process, though, so while I hope to translate again, I don’t have any current plans in place.
What do you think about internet, is it a useful tool for writers?
I can’t say “yes” with enough enthusiasm to this question. It allows a writer to find and work with the editor and publisher of his/her choice – not just someone local. It even allows for an author to publish on his/her own, if that’s the author’s choice. It allows real-time communication with everyone involved in the process. More importantly, though, it is a vehicle for book promotion. Book stores are struggling to survive – online sales and promotion are taking over the industry. I was intimidated by the challenge of social media in the beginning, but now I see it as intriguing, enjoyable, and very, very USEFUL! Nearly 100% of my book sales are a direct result of my social media use. Without it, I wouldn’t have even been able to find your fabulous Universo la Maga site, and what a tragedy that would have been!
What has not yet been said about your book?
I really don’t know how to answer that question. I can’t think of anything. I’ve been very fortunate to have many readers who have taken the time to leave a review, and even more fortunate that the overwhelming majority of those reviews have been positive. I guess that’s a question better asked of the public. Does anyone out there have something to say about With Angel’s Wings that you haven’t said yet? J
How did you hear about Universo la Maga?
I believe I was lucky enough to stumble upon one of your tweets on Twitter.
What do you prefer for your personal life, ebooks or printed books?
I’m hopelessly addicted to my Kindle. I can take it anywhere and DO take it EVERYWHERE. I feel as naked walking out the door without it as I do without my car keys. Printed books are fine, but I love the convenience of e-readers.