Monday, March 1, 2010
Shanna's Lipreading Life: Writing Lip Reader
Q: What do you expect your book to accomplish? Is there an underlying message about living with hearing loss that you'd like readers to take away with them?
One of the myths I’ve found with hearing loss is that it’s only common among the elderly. Hearing loss affects all ages, and Lip Reader offers a multi-generational look at hearing loss and deafness. The grandmother is deaf, the grandpa is hard of hearing, and three young characters have inherited hearing loss.
Q: How much of yourself do you write into your characters?
I like to be able to relate in some way to the story’s narrator or main character. In Lip Reader, the narrator is a 12-year-old girl named Sapphie Traylor. She sees the world through innocent eyes and speaks simply. In order to write with Sapphie’s voice, I had to immerse myself into the world of a preteen girl. What were my thoughts and feelings as a 12 year old? How has my perspective changed since then? Doing these things lent credibility to the character.
Q: How long did it take you to write it and are you planning on writing another one?
I began writing Lip Reader at the end of 2006. A couple of months into the writing, tragedy and blessings happened in my family. My younger sister passed away unexpectedly, then I learned I was going to have my third child. I put the book on hold for almost a year. In 2008, I began working on it again. For 20 minutes a day, five to six days a week, I wrote. Eleven months later, I finished the first draft. I felt God leading the process of brainstorming, writing, and editing throughout.
The sequel to Lip Reader is currently being written. For updates, go to my Take Care of the Birds blog.
Q: Did any events in your life inspire your ideas for the novel?
My dad’s family has genetic hearing loss that has affected my aunt, uncle and two cousins about my age. Since they were born with their hearing loss and I wasn’t, I am unclear if my hearing situation is genetic, such as theirs.
Me and Aunt Mickey
Q: How much of the novel is realistic?
The novel is inspired by my dad’s family, as well as my own hearing loss experiences. The main characters, such as the 12-year-old girl who narrates and the mom character, are purely fictitious.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I hope readers — whether they have hearing loss or not — will gain insight into what a family goes through in dealing with either genetic deafness or late-in-life hearing loss. I also hope they will see the beauty in accepting others’ differences and trying to understand them. Finally, I hope that the book gives the millions of people with hearing loss a sense of purpose and joy with their situation.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your novel?
I think Lip Reader is written the way it is supposed to; I wouldn’t change anything.
Q: Did you learn anything from writing your novel and what was it?
If a person is meant to do something and commits that plan to God, that plan will succeed. What I mean by “succeed” is that it will have a positive impact on both the person and the audience. Lip Reader is an example of how God saw me through an uncertain time in my life — with the death of my sister and the unexpected blessing of a third child.