Anna Lickley: How writing books helped me find my voice as a Deafblind person

Posted on September 28, 2017

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To support Anna’s book, go to: https://unbound.com/books/senseless

My name’s Anna and my second book, Senseless, is soon going to be published by Unbound.

Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher who give writers support to publish books and bring their ideas to life. Here is a link to their innovative website: https://unbound.com/how-it-works

Traditional publishing houses are struggling now and Unbound have found a way to work in the digital age. I am very excited to be an Unbound author!

Senseless

I started writing Senseless in January 2016.

I am an avid reader and was becoming increasingly frustrated by how disability is represented in literature. I use the term represented literally as it feels as if the majority of Deaf and disabled characters are created (if they are created at all) by non-Deaf/ non- disabled writers.

Deafness or Disability is so often either a tragedy that needs fixing or a case of almost idealising it so that a disabled person becomes fabled and ‘other’ to their fellows.

I wanted to write a book where disability and Deafness just ‘happen’ as part of everyday life as they do in the real world. A book where disabled characters are not defined by clichés of disability but are a natural human mixture of kindness and selfishness, even- temperedness and angriness, calmness and frustratededness (that isn’t a word but it should be!). In other words, disabled characters who show the messiness of humanity without their disability being the only thing they bring to a story.

Writing Senseless helped me very much. I have never been a person who just moans about things but someone who sees a problem and wants to try to put it right. It’s helped me to express how I feel as a disabled person.

I self-published my first book rather than going through a publisher and wrote that for similar reasons

Catch it Anytime You Can

Catch it… is a semi-autobiography I self-published in 2013. The main character, Nicola, is essentially me but I made my story into an easy to read novel.

I have Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) and went deaf while I was at Sheffield University in 1996. It wasn’t until 2010 that the cornea got damaged in my one good eye and I was registered deafblind.

At this stage, I felt very overwhelmed. NF2 has presented me with many physical challenges in life and I have learned to adapt to them but I felt dual-sensory loss was going to be too much for me to deal with. It was easy to feel quite invisible at times as if I was just the disabled blob in the corner who people needed to decide what to do with.

I’m sure this wasn’t true but that is how I felt at first.

That’s when I decided to start writing. I began with a blog which soon became an idea of a book and then turned into a real book. Writing helped me to remind others and myself of who I really am. Since then I have come on leaps and bounds in adapting to my new challenges.

What you can do!

Senseless is not yet published as I haven’t quite reached the funding target yet. Take a look at my project at https://unbound.com/books/senseless. You will see there is a video clip of me explaining more about the book in BSL plus an excerpt from it and more about me.

To support the book and pre-order copies, you can chose any of the pledge options, you will get a free e-book and your name will be listed in the book as a supporter. Higher pledge options will get you a paperback version too or other things.

When my supporters help me to reach the funding target and Senseless has been published, I am so excited to see the characters come to life! When they do, I would love to hear your thoughts on them and any ideas for further stories you might have.

Anna is 42 and lives in her native Yorkshire after a 10 year spell in Bristol where she worked at the university before setting up her own business as a BSL teacher and Disability equality trainer. Since retiring on health grounds, Anna is learning to enjoy life at a slower pace. She spends time writing, enjoying the Yorkshire air, going out for coffee with friends and family, horse riding, reading and generally wondering how she ever found time to work.

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