Tell us a bit about your book
My book gives hope to those young people confined to a wheelchair, to know that there are no limits to what they can achieve in life. I feel that my book relates well to young people and I believe that it lends support to those who may be struggling with their future with a disability. It is about encouragement.
Publishing your book, how do you feel?
I am so pleased to have received very positive responses to my book. I would say publishing my first children’s book would be my proudest accomplishment. It was exciting to find that I could publish a book that was print on demand, allowing me to publish my book without a huge financial layout upfront. My plan is to continue to develop as a children’s writer, creating books that entertain young children.
Do you have any direct personal experience of the 'world of special needs?'
I was married to a man who had a brother with special needs who I spent a lot of time with. I also volunteered my time for years helping special needs adults. I organized fund raising events for the organization to help build a special needs home within the community so they could remain close to their families.
Who are you as a person...an author...?
I worked in life insurance throughout my career in the USA, as a business analyst and in the claims area. Once in Australia, I worked in insurance again, in Compulsory Third Party and as a Business Improvement manager. My final job in Australia was with a Superannuation Fund. Throughout my careers I wrote procedure manuals for various areas and businesses. I laugh when I read instructions to put something together and realise that I should have been writing directions rather than procedure manuals! So writing has been a part of my life for years.
Once I retired I finally realized my dream of writing children’s books using my experiences growing up and in Australia. I am always pleasantly surprised when I sit down at the computer and begin writing as to what stories come out.
To stay motivated, I have to say that I have always been very organized so staying motivated is very easy. Living on a farm, I start my day feeding the horses and chickens and most of the time there is a project to begin or finish.
Thinking back to your own childhood, what was special?
I believe that visiting my grandparents farm helped shape who I am today. There was always something to explore and something new to learn. I most admired my grandmother. She was strong, resourceful and caring. I never saw my grandparents angry. I couldn’t wait to listen to her stories and to taste her homemade bread.
Reflecting on reading in my youth, I didn’t really have a favourite book rather a favourite genre. I loved reading books about real life characters in history and would often stay up late at night reading by flashlight.
Were you ever given a best piece of advice?
In my first job, I had a boss who had served as an officer in WWII. He told me that I should always “sleep on” a decision rather than make it quickly. Some of the worst decisions I have made have been because I didn’t follow this advice!
If you had a magic wand, what would you change in the world?
I would change racism. Growing up in southern USA during the 50-60’s I saw first-hand the effects of racism had on blacks. Moving to Australia, I never thought I would see or experience racism but I was mistaken. I was made fun of because of my accent and because I was from the USA.
We are all equal. No one is better than anyone else regardless of the colour of their skin or where they were born. Also, I would change the biased attitude I see towards people with special needs. I learned a long time ago that life can change in an instant and we all could find ourselves with a disability.
Any last thoughts?
My desire to help those with special needs has been a lifelong passion of mine. When I volunteered for the special needs organization, I took a course to learn sign language so I could communicate with some of the deaf clients we had. During my final exam, our entire class had to go to a restaurant and order, communicating entirely in sign language.
Once we arrived at the restaurant, we were taken to the back of the restaurant, sadly out of the way of other customers. We sat down and began to sign amongst ourselves and write down to the waiter what we wanted from the menu.
At a table across from us sat, oddly enough, a group of 4 people who were also deaf. So, we began to sign with them and introduce ourselves.
And then it happened, a couple at a table began to make fun of all of us and talk down to us, then another table. What they didn’t realize was that all of us in the class could hear every word they said. I was fuming but speaking would have meant I would fail the class.
I believe today I would have failed the class because I would not have been able to keep quiet and educate those misguided people.
Karen Davis was interviewed by Tina Elven