SWAY by Jennifer Gibson
Sway is a humbling read about a teen named Jessie who is severely hard of hearing and struggling to get through high school. It's a rare insight into the world of a young person living with a disability where the reader essentially walks a mile in Jessie's shoes. Throughout the series, Jessie goes through a lot of self discovery and reflection about herself through a series of events and interactions with the people in her life.
Finishing this trilogy was an amazing revelation, while it was an exhausting experience, it was an absolute joy to have it completed. I'm astounded that it has come this far, to have three books being published is simply phenomenal and has far surpassed my dreams. It's been an incredible journey for me.
My favourite quote from Sway: "To reach the stars, all you have to do is Believe."
How did I get interested in writing?
I’m a big reader, always have been from a very young age. I grew up reading books by Madelaine L’engle who did a Wrinkle in Time as well as Gordon Kormon whowrote Bruno and Boots - I adored their creative and imaginative styles. I do remember thinking that it would be amazing if I could follow their footsteps. To be where I am today having written a series of books, a triogy, has far surpassed mywildest dreams. I had never planned on going past the first one so it’s a very nicesurprise and huge accomplishment.
I’ve always been involved with writing poems and stories as a young kid and havehad them published. I was often asked to write articles and poems for school newsletters. My creative writing teachers throughout college wanted me to seriously consider writing as a career choice while I was studying illustration and
photography. Since art was my first love, I chose to focus primarily on my desktop publishing business. After a chance meeting with Michael Buble in Toronto a few years ago, he inspired me to go after my dreams. Despite his celebrity status and successful career as a singer, he remained humble towards me. He was very down to earth and treated me like an old friend (He gave me a hug!) Although he was a just few years younger than me, he had already travelled around the world many times and was a worldwide sensation through hard work and perseverance. It was at that moment that I knew that I needed to re-consider my options.
Initially, my mother had encouraged me to tackle writing novels. I went back to school and discovered that I really did enjoy writing stories. Once I refined my style and found my muse, I began to write about my life as hard of hearing teenager. I wanted to tell a story from a unique point of view since there were very
few books about young adults who are deaf or hearing impaired. After six months of putting my pen to paper, all hand written first then typed up afterwards, I had it published as an eBook at Kobo. Within months, it hit the Top 50 best seller list. To me, that was a sign that I was on the right track.
After many requests from fans, I decided to do a second novel, a sequel. Within eight months, it was completed and joined Sway online at KOBO. Not long afterwards, I was asked again to consider doing a third one in this series to create a trilogy. This was a phenomenal step since I had only planned on just one book to simply test the waters. By this point, I was astounded since this has far surpassed my dreams.
Upon tackling the third book, Destiny, it gave me pause because I wasn’t entirely sure that I could possibly top the previous ones. Surprisingly, the ideas flowed easily as I recalled more of my childhood experiences. This particular novel was not only exhaustive to produce, which was nearly a year’s worth of work, it was an
incredible revelation. At times, it was heart wrenching to write since the majority of the book is based on my life. It was a daunting task to go through all of those intense emotions and memories all over again. While it was exciting to write and an absolute joy to have it completed, it was also a deeply personal journey. That’s
my soul out there.
Overall, the trilogy is about making choices, trying to determine a sense of direction which is how the titles come into place - Sway, Compass and Destiny. Like a pendulum, life experiences can have a significant impact on future choices and alter directions. The character, Jessie essentially represents a younger version
of me. And in fact, the experiences that she goes through are from various stages throughout my life, from a very young child up to today. While it was at times emotionally demanding, I felt compelled to include it in the books since they were important key moments in her life (as well as mine) that help form Jessie’s
personality. The third book, Destiny becomes a pivotal turning point that essentially sets her on the right path.
Ironically, the skills that I learned at Sheridan College - art, design, layout, photography and creative writing were all used to produce my books. Not only did I write this series, I had also designed the covers for all three. Why write a book about being hard of hearing?
I wanted to show people what it was like to have a severe hearing loss, wearing hearing aids, dealing with people of all ages at school, in sports or at work as well as at home. It’s one of the hardest disabilities to have since it’s so isolating, it essentially limits our ability to be fully integrated into the society
She is a Graduate of Illustration at Sheridan College & Loyalist College Digital Production program. Her services include photography, illustration, design and desktop publishing. Jennifer has designed and produced photographic books, book covers, manuals, brochures, posters, flyers and business cards for numerous clients.
Her work has been featured extensively in many media formats including CHEX TV, National Geographic, SNAP magazine and Watershed Magazine as well as various local tourism/promotional materials.
Jennifer was recently selected as one of 12 winners for the prestigious 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award and the only Canadian to have won in this national competition (North America). She was nominated as an outstanding individual with a hearing loss and for the portrayal of a hearing impaired teen in her young adult novel entitled Sway.
Sway is the first book in the trilogy series featuring a hearing impaired teen named Jessie. The second novel Compass, will be released in February 2013.
Website - jennifergibson.ca
Sway is currently available at the following locations:
Amazon (CANADA) > http://www.amazon.ca/Sway-Jennifer-Gibson/dp/1937329593/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1346945141&sr=8-4
Barnes &Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sway-jennifer-gibson/1111913980?ean=2940014855631
Amazon (USA) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008VMTOMY
Amazon (USA) - http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008VMTOMY
Black Opal Books (Publisher) - http://bookstore.blackopalbooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29&products_id=38