Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Interview/Review with Debra & Christopher Welch

Katie: I am pleased to present to you guest authors, Debra Welch and her son, Christopher. This interview is not about Debra's book; rather, interview her and Christopher about Christopher's book, "Christopher Bullfrog Catcher."

Debra and Christopher, thanks for joining me today. Debra and Christopher, can you give us a brief biography of yourself?

Debra: I was born in Columbus, Ohio, and reside in Central Ohio with my husband, Mark, and our son, Christopher.

I began writing at age nine and have had my own newspaper column, have created or worked on several newsletters and am a traditionally published author of three books.

Christopher: I was born in Westerville, Ohio with a moderately severe clefting of the lip, gums and hard and soft palates. I also enjoy playing guitar, swimming, fishing, and (of course) bullfrog hunting.

Katie: Your son, Christopher, faces several challenges in his life. Yet, in spite of them, he was able to write a clean, detailed story. Can you share with us what those challenges are?

Debra: Christopher has Attention Deficit Disorder, Dysgraphia, Working Memory Deficit and Executive Function Deficit.

ADD is a disorder that most of us are familiar with. Those affected have problems with focusing. On the flip side, people with ADD may also have the ability to hyper-focus, if it is in an area in which they are interested, as with Chris and his beloved lake and bullfrogs.

Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder, which interferes with the fine motor skills needed in the physical act of writing. For instance, when Chris puts pen or pencil to paper, some letters will "float" - they will be too high or too low - and his penmanship is generally too large or too small, and very difficult to read. In addition, because it is so difficult, Chris cannot write his thoughts with as much fluidity as he can when dictating or typing. He also confuses some words, using "tell" instead of "ask," and "never" instead of "ever," and has trouble typing his shoes. Math is difficult because of difficulty in seeing the numbers in columns and when graph paper is used.

Working Memory Deficit affects short-term memory, and Executive Function Deficit and manifest in problems with test taking.

Katie: How did he overcome these challenges as pertains to this book?

Debra: Christopher will type out a rough draft of what he wants to say. Actually, he is getting better and better at getting it into pretty good form by the time it comes to me.

If I see an area where he has forgotten to use caps or punctuation, I will correct that for him, and if I see an area where he has truncated his response, I will ask him to expand. He will then dictate to me what he wants to say, much as a person will dictate letters, for instance, to a secretary.

Katie: Christopher's book is amazing. How long did it take him to write it? Did he have many edits?

Debra: We wrote the introduction together in about an hour. The rest of the book was finished in about two hours. He had the whole story in his head. I edited as we went and had it off to the publisher that night.

Katie: What about finding a publisher? Do you go the traditional route, or was it it self-published?

Debra: We went the traditional route. I already had a publisher for my first two books. When I showed this to them, they flipped. They loved it.

Katie: Christopher has written a new book. Can you tell us what it is, and what makes it conception and process different than the first book?

Debra: Christopher's latest book, "Just Chris," is an autobiography memoir, as he puts it.

Chris: I wrote "Just Chris" in my memoirs class, little knowing it would be published. I was very pleased, because I knew it would be a good companion book to my Mom's book, "Son of My Soul--the Adoption of Christopher." I was supposed to just write about 15 pages, but Mom always says, "Go the extra mile," so I followed her book and used it as a guideline. I finished with 18 chapters and 68 pages. My teacher was really happy.I really liked how pleased she was and I got a great grade, then it got published. Mom was right: go the extra mile.

Katie: Christopher, what advice would you pass on to other kid authors?

Christopher: All kids should follow their dreams, and don't let others tell you that you can't do it, even if you have learning differences. Focus, work hard, and say to yourself, "There's nothing you can do to stop me."

Katie: Thanks for being guests on my blog today. Christopher's book can be found on Amazon.


General de 15mm said...

Oh, why did you have to write this one? Now, who's going to find a good excuse not to write? :)


A very uplifting story, thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

You've got a great attitude. Fight against what they say you can do. They tried to pigeon hole me & I've beaten the odds. It sounds like you're doing the same, too. Bravo.
The Differently-Abled Children's Author
J. Aday Kennedy

Donna McDine said...

Wonderful heartwarming story. With determination and love all is possible. Good luck.

Best wishes,

Deb Hockenberry said...

This is so inspiring! Both of you show just what can be done if you really want to.
Deb :-)

unwriter said...

The only true illness or disability is the I can't do anything syndrome. You've broken the mold with Chris. It is good to see children getting interested in books. It takes great parents to build up a child and even greater to do so with one that has (excuse the word), handicaps. You've done very well, you have a son to be very proud of.

Unknown said...

I want to thank everyone for their lovely comments, and, Miguel, you can do it! :-)

I am extremely proud of my son. When he was three, I was told that he was incapable of learning. Obviously, neither I or Christopher believed it.

He's a great kid!

Barbara Ehrentreu said...

I love Christopher's attitude of trying anything and going ahead even if he has obstacles. Debra, you did an amazing job of instilling this into him. I know, because I was a teacher and see how much he has gained from you.

Katie, great interview!!! Thank you for bringing this beautiful story to us.

Christopher, I haven't read the book, but from what I have seen I want to read it. Keep it up and congratulations on your second book!:)

Mayra Calvani said...

I'm touched an dimpressed by this post.

Debra, it is wonderful that you're encouraging and supporting your son in this way!

Christopher, keep writing and don't let anyone ever put you down. Congratulations on being an author at such a young age--that's awesome!

Morgan Mandel said...

That's wonderful. Shows what determination can accomplish.

Morgan Mandel