Our authors are the heart of Ventura - without them we wouldn’t have the books we do! But what makes them tick? What lies behind their passion for literature? To answer these sought after questions, we’re bringing you the Five Questions With series to give you a little more insight into who lies behind the words you’re reading.
September brings us new life with Spring, but more importantly, we’re celebrating the release of Special by Melanie Dimmitt. Curious, casual and conversational, Special gives honest and uplifting advice to those new to the special-needs club - shaped by her conversations with parents to children with disabilities, researchers, specialists and experts.
As a journalist by trade, and now a published author, what do you love about writing?
A lot of the time I don’t love it. It tends to be an agonizing process of obsessing over every sentence until (hopefully) things start sounding about right. But in writing’s defence, it does hold my attention like nothing else. I’ll be bashing away on the keys and five hours will pass in what feels like minutes. I also feel incredibly lucky to be paid to do it. I
2. Tell us a little about the inspiration behind your latest work.
I wrote Special out of desperation. When my six-month-old son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy I felt lousy. To my mind, this was a completely unacceptable situation to have wound up in. So I reached out to dozens of other parents raising kids with disabilities and said, “help me!” – what did you do to feel better at the start of this gig? How do you feel now? Tell me this isn’t what I think it is! It was an entirely selfish pursuit and it really helped. I hope Special can do the same for other parents.
3. What are you currently reading (or watching or listening to)?
I’ve just finished Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (lived up to the hype) and Melissa Broder’s The Pisces (weird but in a good way) and am now tucking into A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (delicious writing). I’m watching Younger and eternal replays of Sex and the City. I’m listening to The High Low, No Filter and Lit Up podcasts.
4. Tell us about the book that has impacted you the most.
There are a couple of stories that really stuck with me from my childhood – The Fairy Rebel and The Indian in the Cupboard, both by Lynne Reid Banks. The Bronze Horseman trilogy by Paullina Simons saw me through my romance-deprived teen years, and when I started writing articles, Annabel Crabb’s The Wife Drought made me realise that research and statistics needn’t make for boring copy. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic has helped me out of many a creative block… and I’ll wind it up there because you asked for one book and I’ve listed seven.
5. Do you believe books have the power to create change? How do you imagine Special to impact the world?
I certainly think books can broaden perspectives and give us glimpses into different people’s lives. They can also be a nice little escape into other worlds (thank you, JK Rowling). I’m hoping Special lands in the hands of the people who need it – parents who’ve discovered their kid is travelling a not-so-typical path – and helps to make the emotional shit-storm at the start of this journey just a little less shitty.