Q&A with Steven Salmon!
Steven Salmon is an author with severe Cerebral palsy. His two books published this year are It’s A New Life! Mom Is Gone and A Very New Day. Steven uses Morse code to write since he is unable to use his hands. Check out my review for A Very New Day here and Steven’s website and links to his books are below.
And now, for the Q&A!
Q1. Could you describe the unique way in which you write?
A1. I write using Morse code since I’m unable to use my hands. All day I sway my head back and forth tapping out one letter at a time. I use a word prediction program called CoWriter, allowing me to choose a word from a number list, putting the word in the sentence before moving on to the next word. CoWriter automatically leaves two spaces when I enter a sentence in the Word document before beginning a new sentence. I can write first pages in a day, depending on what I have to do that day.
Q2. Were your experiences growing up in your early teens similar to Rich’s in A Very New Day? If so, is this what your inspiration for the book?
A2. Yes, it was familiar to Rich’s. My writing is semi biographical. I write what I know. In the seventh grade I was mainstreamed to a regular junior high school from a Special education classroom with one teacher and nine disabled students. I didn’t know what homework was. It was the first major transition in my life. I wanted to have friends, have girls to like me, but I was an outcast to most of my classmates. Of course, I had a few friends. I never had history and science. In Special education I was taught how to read, do simple math, comprehension, and spell. I dictated to an aide my assignments and tests in junior high school. I didn’t have a computer until I was twenty-five. Seventh grade was a struggle, but I became an honor roll student in the eighth grade.
Q3. How important is it for perspectives like Rich’s written and shared more frequently?
A3. It is very important now with the government, cutting Medicaid. Special education will be cut or eliminated. Mainstreaming disabled students will be a thing of the past. Specialized equipment like communication devices and electric wheelchairs for severely physically disabled will take three years to be approved. With the current political climate, we are going back to the dark ages of putting the disabled in institutions or hiding in closets. Each disabled person is unique and has something to offer to society. Students with disabilities create diversity in schools, showing their peers that all of us are different in our own way, but we want to belong. People like me are rare gems, who work hard every day. Sadly, President Trump is making harder for the disabled to succeed in the future.
Q4. Are there any future writing projects that you can share with us?
A4. I’m writing a sequel to my memoir, It’s A New Life! Mom Is Gone. My memoir is about a man with severe Cerebral palsy, who becomes an adult overnight when his mother suddenly dies after living with her for forty-seven years. Through the support of his friends and family he becomes independent. In the sequel called A Man’s Life we see a man with severe Cerebral palsy, struggling to live in a group home as he becomes a known author. Loneliness eats at his heart and he wants a girlfriend. He looks for love in the wrong places. His care attendants make life difficult and his career can be stressful at times. He goes to bars to drink, frequents a strip club to have lap dances from his favorite stripper, and has a woman visit for sex. Despite all of his vices he is independent and continues to write. Eventually he falls in love with the right woman. He lives and marries her. A New York publisher publishes his sixth book. He is in demand, but he is diagnosed with a fatal illness and has two weeks to live. His final days are spent up north to see his best friends. He is surrounded by friends at his bedside when he dies.
Another future book is about an artistic adolescent boy, who loses his parents one night. He can’t adjust to left until a policeman adopts him. The boy finds peace living in his new home.
Q5. What book that you read has influenced your life in some way?
A5. My Left Foot by Christy Brown.
Q6. What was your reaction when you found out that A Very New Day was going to be published?
A6. It took three years to write the book. My literary agent Tina Schwartz of the Purcell Agency worked with me in writing of the manuscript. I rewrote it five times and edit it at least a dozen times. Then an editor that I hired and paid for edited the book. I edited it again and send it to Tina. In that time I lost my mother and started living in a group home, writing in the living room. Care attendants were talking, roommates sat watching TV or playing video games while I wrote two manuscripts. When it became too noisy to write, I tried to sleep in my room, choosing to write at night and sometimes I wrote until the morning. One day Tina emailed me to say, “Steve, I love it.” I went crazy and my roommates thought that I lost it. Five months later Tine found a publisher and I had to take the offer. The memoir was being published by another publisher several weeks earlier. The first yes came at midnight and I woke up the house. When the second offer was on the table, I went to the strip club to have a beer and a lap dance with my stripper. After having a beer and seeing naked women I decided to take the offer, I emailed Tina that night to go for it. The next day I had a second book was published. I did it on my own, making every decision. There were times that I wanted to quit or kill Tina. Often I cried at the computer, grieving the loss of the mother. It is not easy for my staff to care for an author. I go up and down like any writer does, but I’m making it.
Q7. If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?
A7. Stop being modest and let others help you. I only let my Mom and Dad take me to the bathroom or clean me up. All of my life, I hid my personal cares from people. It severely limited my opportunities for me. I knew it was wrong and eventually I would register it. Dating, making love, or leaving my parents for very long didn’t happen. I loved being independent, but I wasn’t truly independent. Being on my own always was a dream of mine, but I was afraid leaving home. Life was easier since my mother did everything for me. After forty-seven years, I turned into an adult. This has been hardest transition for me. It would be easier if I was independent years ago with Mom around but she became over protective. I miss Mom but I don’t miss her.
Q8. What advice do you have for people, who want to be published?
A8. Eighty percent of people want to write a book, but only two percent will be published. Writing a book is a job. I have read five page novels from people, who think that they are writers only to give up. When I explain the process of writing a novel, people become very quiet. Multiple drafts and edits are required by a writer before a manuscript is ready to submit to a publisher. I have been writing for twenty five years and I have found how to write. Writing is a learned craft. People don’t know how to market a book to publishers and agents. Then there is book publicity if you are lucky to get published. That doesn’t include the many rejections you will have to go through before getting a yes from a publisher. Writing for an hour each day or when you feel like it isn’t going to make you an author. Some of my friends are real authors and we work long crazy hours every day. We do it for the passion. Authors don’t make much money. When I watch CNN, I always yell when some politician has a book, coming out in several next months, “You’re not an author. I have two books out now. You don’t write. Leave that to real authors like me.”
It’s A New Life! Mom Is Gone and A Very New Day is available on Amazon, with all links available at the start of this post. To learn more about Steven please visit http://www.stevenbsalmon.com.
I just want to say a massive thank you to Steven for taking the time to answer the questions and I can’t wait to read his future projects!