Author Interview with Shireen Jeejeebhoy (Author of "Concussion is Brain Injury")
What is your favorite quality about yourself? My sense of humour. If you can’t laugh at the silly mistakes or life-changing events that can happen to you (after you cry of course), it makes things much tougher.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? I know everyone likes a good quote, and I do too, but I actually don’t have a favourite one. One that I heard a lot growing up was success is 10 percent inspiration, 90 percent perspiration. As a kid, it made my eyes roll. But I must have absorbed it because I do believe that no matter how talented one may be, it still takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to become successful in whatever you do.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? It seemed to always be with me. I remember learning to print words and how exciting that was to me. All through school, writing essays was the best part of my coursework, and at home, I would write down some of my stories. Since a few of my relatives on my mother’s side liked to write poetry or are in the journalism biz, I guess you could say I was born with the interest.
How long have you been writing? My life is divided into before and after my brain injury. In many ways, I consider “after” more real, and I have been writing “after” for about nine years, beginning in earnest with my Blogger bloghttp://pario.blogspot.com as a way to just write and to practice because I’d had to relearn how to write.
What inspires you to write and why? It’s a compulsion. It became a compulsion after my brain injury. And so it’s not so much being inspired to as needing to write. But like with many writers, anything can launch a scene or character into my mind, even overhearing a conversation on the subway.
Have you developed a specific writing style? I believe so as people have told me in the past that they recognize my writing, and with Concussion Is Brain Injury, readers have commented on its conversational quality. But I’d be hard pressed to describe my style.
What is your greatest strength as a writer? Being able to sit at the keyboard until I finish a chapter. Even when fatigue overtakes me mid-chapter and demands I stop, I can still keep writing because whatever drives me to write is stronger. Once I’ve finished the chapter, then I collapse.
Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Not really…so far! Anytime I’m feeling in a funk about what to write, I open the newspaper. There’s sure to be an article in there that will get my brain ticking over and my writing juices producing.
How did you come up with the title? I wanted it to be simple, succinct, and say exactly what my main point was. I doodled around with different words describing brain injury or head injury and sent off a list of possible titles to my editor. This was one of the ones I came up with. And the more I stared at it, the more it seemed perfect for my book. My editor agreed.
Who is your publisher? Iguana Books in Toronto.
Why did you choose to write this particular book? People had been telling me for years I should write about my experience with brain injury. In fact, the doctor who diagnosed me had said, “You must write a book on this! It’s a hidden epidemic.” Since I was still reeling from his diagnosis, writing a book on brain injury was the furthest thing from my mind. But when someone asked me where to buy my book that I thought maybe I should actually write one.
I wrote Concussion Is Brain Injury to share not only my experiences but also the many things I’ve learned about brain injury and about treating it. I wrote it so that others wouldn’t feel alone, whether they have “just” a concussion or know of someone who has one and don’t know what to expect. And I wrote it so that perhaps even people untouched by the injury will learn the reality of this hidden epidemic.
What was the hardest part about writing this book? The hardest part actually came after it was published when it suddenly dawned on me that I’d have to talk about myself. Writing is one thing. You can’t see the audience; you can’t see how readers react. But talking is another. Like with any published book, people come up to you and ask questions, except the questions are about you as you are your book.