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A girl behind dark glasses
ABOUT: From a darkened world, bound by four walls, a young woman called Jessica tells the tale of her battle against the M.E Monster. The severest form of a neuro immune disease called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis went to war with her at just 15 years old. From beneath her dark glasses, Jessica glimpses a world far different from the one she remembers as a teenage school girl. This true story follows her path as she ends up living in hospital for years with tubes keeping her alive. This harrowing story follows the highs and lows of the disease and being hospitalised, captured through her voice activated technology diary called ‘Bug’ that enables her to fulfil her dream of one day becoming an author. It provides a raw, real-time honesty to the story that would be impossible to capture in hindsight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Taylor-Bearman shares her inner-most thoughts and real-time emotions – adapted from her diary growing up as a teenager in South-East England – as she experiences the terrifying discovery that, aged 15, instead of partying, studying and socialising, she would rapidly become bed-ridden, ultimately unable to move, speak, eat…Despite the odds, Jessica never gave up. Her dream was to become an author, to be able to marry, leave the hospital, enjoy life. In July 2018, her first book, A Girl Behind Dark Glasses, will be published by Hashtag Press. Supported by a hugely successful crowdfunding project, Jessica’s story will be unveiled at an ideal time – Jessica features in a film called Unrest by Jennifer Brea, a journalist and filmmaker from New York, which aims to raise awareness about severe Myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E). After winning a prize at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, the now Oscar-nominated film is now on general release in the UK, coinciding with a review of the controversial National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines into the diagnosis and management of the illness.
For more on Jessica Taylor-Bearman
CHECK OUT OUR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH
1. Where do you get the inspiration from when you write?
I get inspiration from every aspect of living, moving, breathing, talking and meeting new people because at one point it was very difficult for me to do any of those things, due to serious health issues.
2. Who is your target reader?
Young adults are my main target audience but I’ve found that all adults are interested in my debut book.
3. When did you start writing your book and how long did it take?
I started writing A Girl Behind Dark Glasses in 2014, it took about four and a half months. I found it very therapeutic to write so it was relatively quick!
4. What was the top challenge that you faced during the creation of your book?
My book is based on a diary that was sometimes written and sometimes coded. I had to understand it again and then write it down in a way that kept the pace of the entire book going as much as possible because a lot happens in the memoir.
5. What publishing route did you opt for and why? (I.e. self-publishing, indie publishing, traditionally published with an agent etc).
I opted for indie publishing in the end for this book because I wanted to learn a bit more about the process before getting lost in the publishing world. I’m severely unwell so wanted to get to know the team first!
6. Is this your first book? If not, please provide details of your others.
A Girl Behind Dark Glasses is my first book and I wanted it to be a statement to how I want to go on writing.
7. Do you plan to write another book(s) in the future? Do you have details you can share?
I’m writing a sequel to A Girl Behind Dark Glasses now but have an array of books in my mind following all sorts of genres and ages.
8. What/who inspired you to become an author?
When I was younger, it was the idea that you could make a world through the words you used – often more appealing than the one you were in. It became a serious idea when I started writing sessions with my Gran, and the moment she suddenly passed away, I knew no matter what I was going to write a book!
9. Do you have a ‘day job’ or do you work solely as an author?
I’m a charity founder and an artist so I mix that in with being an author too. I am severely chronically unwell so I work around that.
10. How do you overcome writers block?
When I have writers block, I tend to start writing something even if it is a blog that I will never publish to get it out of my system then I get back to the task at hand.
11. Would you always stick to the same genre or do you like experimenting?
I love experimenting, so I think my books will represent all my own interests.
12. How do you market your books? Do you attend literary festivals, book fairs and other similar events?
I have a great amount of people online using social media that follow what I do. I also want to attend literary festivals and similar events too in order to spread the word further.
13. What do you think makes your book different from everyone else’s?
I think what makes my book different from others is it is written at the time of the event. I became seriously ill and my diary that had started as an innocent bit of fun writing became my lifeline because I couldn’t communicate and my sole way of reaching people including my family, friends and the medical staff looking after me.
14. What one thing would you love to change about the publishing industry?
I would love for the publishing industry to be more diverse and ready to take more risks. Just because I’m disabled and can write about illness from a first hand perspective, doesn’t mean I can’t write an interesting book with a wide audience.
15. If you could get a glowing review from three people who would they be and why?
Stephen Fry because he has always taken chances and put himself out there in a form of activism towards what he believes in. My book does this in order to understand and bring about change for the disease, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
J K Rowling because she has written arguably one of the most successful book series in this century, which I grew up loving and adoring. She also remains true to herself and speaks out about what she believes in.
Jean-Dominique Bauby because he is the author of the most inspiring read that motivated me even more to fulfill my dream of becoming an author no matter what stood in my way.
Thank you jessica!
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