~ By Gabi Stevens
When a book comes out, an author pins her hopes and dreams to it. Will anyone like it? Will people understand the message? Will it make any bestseller lists? So many of us authors are insecure and sensitive people, so we check our numbers on Amazon hourly (okay, 15-minutely), we check our status on Goodreads, we troll for our reviews. But in the big picture, none of these things are important. Oh, sure, they can determine whether we get that next book contract, if we make money (and if we’re not a huge name, we really aren’t), and frankly, you can’t please everybody, but all in all, we aren’t changing the world. I write my stories to provide a few hours of entertainment and escape from a busy and crazy world.
But that doesn’t mean our books don’t have relevance.
In AS YOU WISH, my latest release, I feature two characters who are special to me. Tommy and Joy are individuals with intellectual and developmental delays (IDD). Tommy has Down syndrome and Joy is, well, she’s just Joy. They have jobs (they’re bakers), live independently, and have a social life. Mostly because of the friendship of my heroine, Reggie Scott. I believe, in general, people undervalue the importance of friendship and the strength and confidence it can give a person.
Did you know fifty-four percent of individuals with IDD never receive a phone call from a friend in their lives? This statistic shocked me, but didn’t surprise me. You see, I have a daughter with IDD. She was my inspiration for Joy and Tommy. She’s never had many friends or received phone calls until she reached high school and found a group that is devoted to finding friendships for people with IDD. Best Buddies International is all about friendship. They pair a person with IDD to a peer for the simple purpose of forming a friendship. My daughter has participated in Best Buddies™ for two years now, and I had to get her a cell phone so she could keep up with all the calls and texts she receives. How perfectly and wonderfully normal. She has gained confidence, improved her language skills, and is now a bigger part of her community because of Best Buddies. Oh, yes, and she has friends too.
In AS YOU WISH, Tommy and Joy are secondary characters. The story is about magic, wizards and fairy godmothers. Though Reggie is chosen as a new fairy godmother and has to fight against the bad guy, she doesn’t forget her friends.
And it’s a fun read, if I do say so myself.
Gabi Stevens was born in SoCal to Hungarian parents. After spending time in boarding school, college, and studying abroad, she’s still in the classroom trying to teach eighth graders the joys of literature. An award winning author, Gabi writes in New Mexico where she lives with her robotics engineer husband, three daughters, and two dogs. She loves to play games, has a wicked addiction to reading, avoids housework and cooking, and doesn’t travel nearly as much as she would like to.
THE WISH LIST May 2010
AS YOU WISH April 2011
WISHFUL THINKING March 2012
Find me at Facebook or Twitter under GabiStevens.