Friday, February 26, 2016

Author Interview With Darcy Leech

Author Interview With Darcy Leech

PULP DEN: Please give me a short bio about yourself.

Darcy Leech was born on Blytheville Air Force Base in Arkansas to a mother harboring a hidden genetic disease that would forever shift the family life when Dustin, Darcy’s younger brother, came into the world with congenital myotonic muscular dystrophy. Before meeting her brother, Darcy was told she would live longer than he did and matured quickly as a child living amid medical crisis.
She graduated summa cum laude from Bethany College with majors in English Education and Philosophy, married the love her life and settled into her home town in the middle of the golden wheat fields of Kansas where she has served 8 years as an educator. Darcy is a four year all conference college athlete, A.O. Duer national award winner, published nationally in Quest Magazine, and a Lana Jordan Aspiring Artist Grant winner.
She gave birth to her first son, Eli, three months before her mother’s degenerative muscle disease took Jo Lyn’s ability to breathe. Jo Lyn was to be Eli’s caretaker when Darcy returned to work, but instead, Jo Lyn fed Eli a bottle in her hospital bed while she was hooked to ventilator. Jo Lyn is the strongest woman Darcy will ever know, and From My Mother candidly recounts the love and struggles in a family with a special needs boy and a hardy young girl raised with compassion, fortitude and grace while facing death with a terminal disease.

PULP DEN: Please give me a blurb for your book.

Riveting, soulful, and courageously told, From My Mother is a meditation on grief, family, genetic disease and also a deeply personal account of the narrator’s coming-of-age amid medical crisis and tragedy to carry on the lessons from her mother to raise her young son. A story of loss, From My Mother is full of life, a story of beginnings as much as endings, a moving book that transforms suffering into art and inspiration. Darcy Leech was born to Jo Lyn Bartz, a mother who carried myotonic muscular dystrophy, a disease 1 in 8500 suffer from. Jo Lyn’s son, Dustin Ryan Bartz, was born with congenital muscular dystrophy with a high enough frequency of protein repeat mutations that of his 13 years of life, every day defied prior medical knowledge. Leech narrates a moving meditation of the enduring mysteries of what dormant harbingers of genetic disease may lurk within, the surprising possibilities in loss, and the deep resilience of the human spirit as the bod­y weakens.
The narrative highlights the relationship between diseased mother and healthy daughter, revealing Jo Lyn as a woman of strength, a caretaker who quietly marched toward her own degenerative weakness, someone grappling for identity while ostracized by an invisible disease, and a resilient spirit who endured holding the child who inherited her genetic misfortune as he took his last breath. From My Mother is the honest story of finding joy through loss, living fully within limitations, and the universal struggle of grappling for identity against the device of innate genetic code through invested love and personal choice. From My Mother leaves the reader pondering the value of genetic testing, the beauty in a disease easy to accept as genetic fault, and the heart wrenching question of when life should be sustained by machine or ended by choice.

PULP DEN: Why did you write From My Mother?
I wrote From My Mother first as a process to heal after losing my mother to respiratory failure caused by her genetic disease, myotonic muscular dystrophy. While writing was cathartic for me, I knew there were others like my family out there, more women like me grieving the loss of a parent, wondering how to raise her child well. There are women like my mother who feel alone, that no one understands their rare disease and its silent effects. From My Mother is a true story which needs to be told. As technology advances, more and more people will have to make choices about life support, or have a child who wouldn’t have survived years ago and has a complicated prognosis. More descendants will live as caretakers for their parents or watch their parents die after a long hospital stay. Those feelings are complex. I’m hoping reading the honest revelations of a rare but relatable story means something to those walking similar paths. There are readers out there who need From My Mother. I wrote to reach them.

PULP DEN: How do you market your books?

My job as an instructional technology coach helps me acquire skills to conquer promotion and marketing in the social media era. I have a professional designed website, an active blog, a growing social media presence and connections with key organizations tied to the target audiences of my book. I have a Kindle Unlimited subscription and made it a goal to read one book a week on marketing or promotion for my book. If I had to sum up my marketing plan in one sentence, I’d say I market resourcefully with a high degree of technology knowledge, a deep social network, and connections with groups and people with a high return on my energy investment because I know they are people like me in ways who will relate.

PULP DEN: What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

Writing From My Mother was a healing process. The hardest part was writing through the tears to have coherent organization and clear details. Revisions were calmer writing time than the first draft. Allowing the emotions to linger in my mind to write let out some feelings I repressed by keeping busy with other things. It was cathartic, but catharsis doesn’t come without struggle.

PULP DEN: What do you do to get book reviews?

I found beta readers via interest groups linked to concepts in themes in the book. I would link a blog post written towards an audience like those in families affected by a terminal, incurable disease like in the book and if someone said “I can’t wait to read your book!” in response, I’d ask him or her if he or she would be interested in an Advanced Reader Copy. All I asked in return was a written review on Goodreads. My early reviews from this method were in an exact target audience for the book from people who already had indicated a positive view of the book. I’m going to market with some strong written reviews on Goodreads. My blog and social media connections, which are honest and caring friendships made with people like me, help me find readers willing to do me the favor of writing a review.

PULP DEN: How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?

In small number, great. However, I would like to expand the scope and frequency of the reviews. Being connected to a reader network would be great.

PULP DEN: If your book were made into a movie, whom would you cast?

Emma Watson playing me as the narrator would be delightful. (This is budget free daydreaming, right?) Angelina Jolie would understand the threat of deadly genetic disease. Before the disease started affecting the strength of my mother’s facial muscles or her ability to exercise, she would have resembled Jolie. Robert Downy Jr. would by play my father and it would be his most touching role yet, reminiscent of Robin Williams in Patch Adams. My brother would have to be played by a child actor with congenital myotonic dystrophy. I don’t know any other way the directors could capture that face and body movements…

PULP DEN: Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

Owen Meany in A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving – Owen is like the voice I hope to give my brother though my writing. He looks and speaks differently and has a shorter projected life span than his narrator friend, John. Owen Meany stands out from those around him not just because of the way he was born, but how he thinks and acts. Owen is a genius, a gifted writer, wise beyond his years, a loyal friend, and in ways a typical angsty teenager. My favorite part of Owen, though, is how his unshakable faith in a divine creator shapes his world view and leads him to his tragic yet beautiful fate. Owen is special, and I’m attracted to the paradox of fortune and misfortune in his grateful worldview which allows him to believe he is the way he was meant to be and that things happen for a reason.

PULP DEN: If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be?

Everyone would spend more time reading well-written true life stories for edification and enjoyment. One of our best ways to learn is in books, and I think entertainment that is not edifying occupies too many timetables which would be better served by true and worthwhile lessons a good memoir can offer, whether physical or digital.

PULP DEN: How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Amazon Author Page:  to be created upon publication date

PULP DEN: Darcy, thanks for stopping by. We wish you much success with this book, as we understand how important it is to you and your family.

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