No one ever expected Alison Neuman to live past the age of three, let alone become a successful author and performer.
Now, an inspirational figure, Neuman has never let the painful disease she suffers with, dermatomyositis, dictate what she can and cannot achieve in her life.
An award-winning singer, Neuman has even done dance performances with the iDance and Cripsie Groups in her native Edmonton, Alberta, Canadian hometown. Along the way, she has become a college graduate, earning a degree in creative writing from MacEwen College, despite being told she’d never amount to anything.
Searching for Normal is her memoir and anthem to anyone who is suffering through sickness or obstacles that seem too impossible to overcome.
“You can and will achieve life’s greatest dreams,” Neuman says, “if you take it one step at a time; even if that step is while you navigate via a wheelchair.”
Thank you for this interview, Alison. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I live in Canada and am a caregiver for my Mom who has dementia. I love to read in the genres of action, adventure and secret agents. Other passions of mine are music, crafts, cooking and baking. I’ve been writing short stories and poetry since I was a young but have had a focus on creative writing, specifically novels, screenplays and plays for the past 15 years.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Searching for Normal: A Memoir details my life experience from the onset of a rare and painful illness at the age of three, recounting my personal journey as I come to terms with an ever-shifting concept of ‘normalcy.’ But, amidst my constant battles with my health, and trying to define what a ‘normal’ life is, I emerge as a champion.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
The greatest challenge in writing my memoir was to take an entire life of memories and decide which were important to the themes of the story. In considering my choices to be included or deleted, the people that have played a role in my life also had to be considered. For myself, it was hard to cut persons out of my book. My editor was a great help in my editing process when she explained, “Those people are important to your life but not your story.”
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
Searching for Normal: A Memoir was published by a small press – Fireside Publications.
Was it the right choice for you?
Yes it was the right choice as they have been very supportive.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
Most of my promotions so far have been by word of mouth. For the next four months I am going to be going to local book sales and exploring the Internet and social media via a tour.
How is that going for you?
The promotional venture has been good but I’m still working on finding a balance of what seems to work best to find my readers.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Another local author, Rick Lauber and myself have planned an event called Authors for Altruism. We are in our second year and it provides local authors a place to sell their books. We also have $1.00 sold from each book go to our charities and we have a silent auction with many wonderful donated items. This event allows the authors in our community to get together in one place and meet and connect with our readers.
Do you have another job besides writing?
While it is one of my passions, I have had an opportunity to dance with CRIPSiE Edmonton in a few of their performances. In the past year I have also had an opportunity to learn and present a piece as an emerging choreographer.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
My best promotion tip is to think outside the box and create opportunities to make your book available for your audience. One of my dreams was to run a camp for children of all abilities, Camp Mission Access. After consideration, I used a secret agent theme to tie into my first novel, Ice Rose – A Young Adult Spy Novel. Each child gets a copy of the book and not only has an opportunity to be a secret agent for a day, but they leave the camp with an enthusiasm for reading, and some children wanting to be future authors.
What’s next for you?
Currently, I’m finishing the draft of my next Young Adult manuscript entitled “Hindsight”. Olivia falls for David who has a secret that cannot be exposed to the world. A secret, that when revealed, will threaten not only her life but also her family. Will she be able to accept his secret and evade the danger that is trying to extinguish everything David cares about.
Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
You can find my website at www.alisonneuman.ca
Searching for Normal: A Memoir can be purchased at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Searching-Normal-Memoir-Alison-Neuman-ebook/dp/B00GHMRADU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410807718&sr=8-1&keywords=searching+for+normal+memoir