"A novel about a disabled woman? No one would read it." This is one of the responses I got after explaining my new novel idea.
Alice Merkel is a twenty-something screw-up who has lost her sense of self to her disability. She defines herself by her forearm braces and her hearing aids. Secretly, though, she longs to be someone extraordinary. When she is badgered by her best and only friend Vicki into going to a questionable psychologist specializing in Past Life Regression, in a sense, Alice gets her wish: She "discovers" she was Helen Keller in a former life.
The doctor, think P. T. Barnum, turns Alice (and himself) into a local cel ebrity. News channels want to interview her, people on the street give her praise, and Sam, a mysterious young writer with issues of his own asks to write a book about her "regressions". With so much encouragement and attention, it becomes harder and harder to admit the truth: that she's made it all up, subconciously at first, and then later, intentionally.
Told in alternating first person POVs, my novel tells the story of Alice and her complete opposite, Helen Keller. Think of it as Julie and Julia except both women have disabilities and zero interest in cooking.
While the book wrestles with serious issues it explores them in nuanced ways that can be both humorous and emotional. Humor is a gateway drug to understanding; it's always been very important to me as a writer. People with or without disabilities will read this book, laugh at the funny parts, get to know Helen Keller beyond her mythology, and connect to these well-rounded heroines as they struggle to be themselves.
I'm a recent graduate of Columbia University's MFA program (fiction) and a writer with Cerebral Palsy. As a writer, my goal is to ask questions about the world I live in. One of the questions that has informed my life is Why are we as a society so quick to discard people with disabilities? I know from my own experience that one of the repercussions of this attitude is that we, people with disabilities, can end up discarding ourselves. That's why I'm writing this book. In 2009, I acquired an agent with my novel, The Winter Machine, and received encouraging notes but no offers from traditional publishers. My new novel, The Revisions, is currently being considered by agents.
To complete this project successfully I need to travel and research, interview people, promote the book, and make preparations to self-publish the book if traditional publishers don’t see a market. All of this costs money that I just don’t have.
You? Your help, even if it’s just a dollar, will bring this book one step closer to print!
Thank you for reading!
Research Blog: Past Life Regression Session
- Laura Kirsch
- Andrea DAgostino
- Jessamine Chan
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