We have Stephen Gallup, author of What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son. Stephen will talk about his book and a little about himself. Hope everyone can enjoy meeting him and hearing his story.
Stephen Gallup's Bio
Stephen Gallup grew up in North Carolina and Virginia. He studied at NC State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in the life sciences, and then at the University of Virginia, where he received a master’s in English.
Since 1977, he has worked in various roles in technical communication in the aerospace and wireless telecommunications industries. His roles have ranged from supporting proposals for feasibility studies of space missions and launches of satellites, to writing user guides for trendy new cell phones. In the early years, he wrote occasional short fiction on the side, and features for newspapers.
Steve’s life changed dramatically with the birth of his son Joseph in 1985. Upon learning that there was a problem, he applied his energies to a pursuit of answers that he felt certain must exist. After a year of consulting with physicians to no effect, he located other resources. For the next four years, he and his wife Judy implemented an intensive two-pronged treatment campaign that resulted in dramatic improvements in Joseph’s condition.
His memoir What About the Boy? shows what the family did, and what happened next.
The Author Interview
Questions and Answers
1. Tell us about your book, What About the Boy? A Father's Pledge to His Disabled Son.
Stephen Gallup (Author): In response, here’s a rhetorical question: What would you do if you had a little baby who was obviously in distress every day and who wasn’t achieving the usual developmental milestones, such as crawling? Oh, and the doctors weren’t helping, either. My book is a memoir that shows what our family did in that situation. I often say that it’s a story about people who became dissenters, because we ended up butting heads with most of the authority figures who tried to tell us what we couldn’t do. But our dissent was merely in the cause of attaining the same kind of life other people enjoy.
2. That seems like a very hard situation, truly. How has the process of it being published been for you?
Stephen Gallup (Author): I wrote the book over a very long period of time, and periodically in the latter phase I stopped to show what I had to literary agents and publishers. Some did seem interested. For example, the editors at one publishing house liked it, but then their top executives nixed the project. Every time something like that happened, I just kept on tinkering with the manuscript, and I’m sure the quality was improved by my going back over it so many times. The objection everybody raised was based on the fact that I don’t have what’s called a “platform,” which means a big fan base that’s predisposed to buy anything I write. In short, they weren’t willing to take a chance on me. Then I saw a notice for a literary contest and submitted my manuscript. It won first place in the unpublished memoir category, which was encouraging. I have friends who get published frequently, via one route or another, and I finally decided, if they can do it, why can’t I? So I got some professional advice, in order to do this correctly, and published at my own expense. I think the story is significant enough to merit taking a chance on it myself.
3. A very big step and glad you found your own way, Stephen. When did you decide you had to write What About the Boy?
Stephen Gallup (Author): Some of the words in this book were written when my son Joseph was still a baby—26 years ago! However, back then I was only journaling as a means of making sense of what was happening, and had no thought of publication. I kept on writing as time passed, primarily because the course of events became so amazing. The idea of turning it all into a memoir, per se, took shape at some point between 2000 and 2005. But the advantage of having gotten so much down on paper long ago is that the details, the quotes, and everything is accurate, and not a reconstruction based on memory.
4. Was it hard to write What About the Boy? If so, in what way?
Stephen Gallup (Author): Memoirs are often difficult, because they cover very personal material. The process of going over what has happened, and viewing the choices you made then in light of what you know now, is actually very healthy, I think. But I cannot say how many memoirists I’ve seen break down and cry as they try to read passages of their work aloud to a group. I think, if you’re writing a memoir and you don’t feel some pain, you aren’t digging deep enough. Also, beyond the emotional hurdle, there have been lessons for me in the basic craft of writing, such as balancing the amount of explanation that’s needed—to avoid confusing readers—against details that should be cut so the story doesn’t bog down.
5. If anything, what do you want to get across to people with your story?
Stephen Gallup (Author): Well, first of all, there are a heck of a lot of people out there who’ve had some personal exposure to developmental disability. My story includes details of what we did to help our son, but it’s definitely not intended as a how-to book. I’m not suggesting that others should do what we did. What I hope readers will take away from the story is an understanding of the lengths to which many families do go in trying to help their kids, even after the doctors have given up. It’s a very honest depiction of what can happen when you refuse to accept a narrow range of unpleasant options and instead gamble everything on your determination to prove ‘em all wrong. When we did that, we enjoyed some very upbeat, optimistic times, and we achieved exciting things with our son. But in the end, we paid a price as well. I’ve written a portrait of an uphill struggle, fought by people who didn’t have much reliable guidance, which is basically a situation most people can relate to, I think.
The Book & Movie Dimension Blogger: Stephen, did you ever see yourself at a young age writing a book?
Stephen Gallup (Author): Actually, yes. As far back as grammar school, I loved to read and loved to write little stories that I read to my classes. Then as a young adult, I wrote both short fiction for small literary journals and features for newspapers. Before any of that activity attained sufficient momentum for writing an actual book, I became the parent of a disabled child. Then of course my focus changed. Long ago, I did expect that one day I would write a book, but novels were what I had in mind. Now that I’ve finally gotten WATB launched, maybe it will be possible to think about fiction again.
6. Are there any people you'd like to acknowledge that helped you along the way?
Stephen Gallup (Author): I’ve become a big believer in critique groups. Nowadays, I can tell when I read a book that was written without the benefit of that kind of feedback. I participated in two such groups, one of which was chaired by Thomas Larson, author of The Memoir and the Memoirist. He and all the other writers there made an invaluable contribution in helping me fine-tune my story. I also participated in the authonomy website, where the critiques of still other writers helped kick it up yet another notch or two. Bottom line: there can never be too many critical readers!
7. Want to share with readers anything on your mind?
Stephen Gallup (Author): Is there something you really, really want in your own life? I’m talking about something that you just cannot rest as long as there are stones you’ve left unturned? Finding a way to help our son was that kind of cause. I believed in pulling out the stops and giving it everything. WATB is just a story about trying to find a way.
Stephen, thanks for choosing to be with us today out of many blogs out there. Readers I'm sure will want to read your book because of how inspirational it sounds. Also, Stephen in many ways hope that people going through this similar experience can find comfort through your published book memoir.
If you really now want to read Stephen's book and want more chances of winning, See giveaway at Goodreads.com. Giveaway available here too (See more below). Or you can buy yourself a copy too.
~Cassandra The Book & Movie Dimension Blogger
~Cassandra The Book & Movie Dimension Blogger