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Published in Author Interview

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Published in Author Interview

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Fight for Freedom is a journey essential for Life and Justice

It is a great account of a duo, a mother, and a daughter fighting for freedom, life, and justice. However, writing on this account, Gibbs faced many difficulties emotionally as well as technically. Therefore, she did not give up her writing as well as caring and loving her daughter. The story tells us about her daughter from the beginning to ...

It is a great account of a duo, a mother, and a daughter fighting for freedom, life, and justice.

However, writing on this account, Gibbs faced many difficulties emotionally as well as technically. Therefore, she did not give up her writing as well as caring and loving her daughter. The story tells us about her daughter from the beginning to present day about cerebral palsy patient (It is a group of disorder that affect a person's physical ability  in terms of movement and balancing).

From all of that, one thing about the book, “My Rachel” to keep you inspiring and resilience not only both, mother and daughter but also readers. In this conversation, she talked everything about life, freedom, expectations, passion, love and coping up while writing the book.

You have written a memoir about a mother’s love. Could you please tell us about the book, “My Rachel”?

Author S. J. Gibbs

Gibbs: This book is based on real life events and is a raw and authentic account of a true fight for life and justice. It is a memoir about the love I have as a mother for my daughter, Rachel, who is diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, a condition that makes her incapable of voluntary movement or speech. 

It tells of her incredible story, one she is unable to tell for herself, from the beginning of her life, to the present day, spanning a period of more than thirty years.

It conveys the special bond between us, in an open and honest manner. The book explores the true meaning and impact on everyday life of caring for a daughter with severe cerebral palsy. It highlights all the different emotions experienced including anger, grief and confusion, but also the hopes and fears, courage, inspiration, and resilience of both mother and daughter.  Perhaps most importantly of all, it portrays Rachel’s passion for life and her mischievous sense of fun. Rachel’s story is one that deserves to be told, not least because it examines how the justice system works in cases of medical negligence.

What was your motive behind writing books and why you wanted to become an author?

Gibbs: My passion as a teenager was always reading, and I loved writing short stories for pleasure. I never considered becoming an author and, when I reached adulthood, my career took a completely different route, although reading always remained my passion. As life moved on and Rachel was born, and I watched how this complex life of ours unfolded, I knew in my heart that one day I wanted to tell her story. Eventually, I sat down and began to write about this special and extraordinary life.

Tell us more about your family, education, and turning point where you thought to pursue in writing.

Gibbs: I am married with three daughters, two stepsons, a granddaughter, and a Labrador dog, Haribo. Rachel is my eldest daughter, and lives at home with me and my husband, in a village in the West Midlands of England. All our other children are grown-up and independent and are spread out all over the world in Brussels, London, and Nottingham in England. My youngest lives in Melbourne, Australia.

I left school aged fifteen and opened my first business, a record shop selling second-hand records. The turning point where I decided to pursue my writing came as I was struggling to continue writing “My Rachel.” I had written seven chapters, but I was finding the emotional side of telling Rachel’s story too difficult. Following on from a discussion in my local pub with an author, Michael Andrews, and with his encouragement, I joined a local writer’s group of which he was a member.

Through this small group, I met J.M.McKenzie who had a medical background  and, as such, a real understanding of my situation and some of the technical aspects of the story. After some discussion, we decided that the best way forward for me to complete “My Rachel” was for her to be a co-author. Meanwhile, through the writer’s group, I found an absolute love and passion for writing fiction. I completed a comprehensive creative writing course, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and it certainly helped to improve my writing skills.

How many books have you written yet, and which one is closest to you?

Gibbs: I have been involved with the writer’s group since 2015, and each month we set a prompt for writing a short story. From these exercises, my first published piece of writing was born when we published an anthology of these home works. By now, we had set up a small publishing company, JAMS Publishing, initially to enable us to draw on each other’s strengths and skills for the purpose of self-publishing. This first anthology, “Words Don’t Come Easy” now has three other books in the series, “Words Don’t Come Two Easy”, “Words Don’t Come Threely” and “Words Don’t Come Fourth”. Michael Andrews suggested that I should publish a fictional short story in order to learn first-hand how it felt to actually produce my own book and hold a physical copy in my hand.

The experience was wonderful, but I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t a novel length. The short story is “Fighting a Battle with Himself”. Hence, I began to write my debut fiction novel, “The Cutting Edge”, a story about a young girl who strives to overcome adversity. Meanwhile, a friend approached me with an idea for a book he had wanted to write about healing and asked if I would co-author it with him. It is since published as “The Secrets To Healing with Clear Quartz Crystals”.

My second novel is a story of a complex protagonist who has a reaction to a trauma, creating a highly unreliable narrative. It is entitled, “A Parallel Persona”. My third novel, “A Santorini Escape” is a romance set in Santorini and written from a male perspective. It is due to be released shortly. Of all my books, “My Rachel” will always have a special place in my heart due to the nature and emotion of the content. But holding my first fiction novel “The Cutting Edge”, in my hand was a very special moment.

How much time you took writing and editing “My Rachel”. As well as how many edits you have given to this novel and why?

Gibbs: The process of writing “My Rachel” spanned a period of fifteen years. This was mainly due to my emotional involvement, which delayed it for so long. Once J.M.McKenzie took up the mantle, the book was finished within a year. The editing side of the book was the first experience I’d had of this procedure. Both myself and J.M.McKenzie self-edited and then we employed a professional editor to complete the process. 

What is the difference between writing fiction, non-fiction and memoir? Please tell us with an example.

Gibbs: For me, there is a huge difference between all three. Fiction enables the author to escape into a world entirely free of restrictions, a narrative which takes the characters wherever they fancy. I find writing fiction to be a place where I can explore many ideas, and truly love the freedom of this style of writing. For example, in “The Cutting Edge” the protagonist, Rochelle, faces one hurdle after another but overcomes them all with strength and determination.

Writing non-fiction, such as “The Secrets to Healing with Clear Quartz Crystals” gives less freedom to the author and I found that more research and fact checking were necessary. Memoirs like “My Rachel” can be very emotive to write, as I discovered. Also, the author is relying on their memory of events, and it can be a difficult process if you want to convey the story in a way that’s truthful and honest.

Where do you want to see yourself as an author in the next 10 years, and what you need to prepare yourself for that?

Gibbs: I hope to continue writing fiction novels, as this is where my true passion lies, and I feel that each novel I write is an improvement on the previous one. I quote, “Practice makes perfect.”

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