AUTHOR INTERVIEW | Meet the incredible Melanie Dimmitt, supremely talented writer + journalist, all-round lovely person and author of the phenomenal book Special: Antidotes To The Obsessions That Come With A Child’s Disability (follow Mel here: @the_special_book and find the book here).
Mel and I met when we worked together at Collective Hub magazine and have stayed great friends in the years since, with many a long phone call talking each other through the myriad of twists and turns we've both encountered, from first babies, freelance writing, books, more babies and both of us farewelling life in inner-city city for new horizons on opposite sides of Australia.
Like all great friendships, I have such respect and awe for this amazing lady and all the things she's triumphed through with grace and aplomb - not least, writing (and absolutely nailing) her first book!
Here, Mel tells all on how to write a book, from writing mentors and market research to how long it REALLY took to write her finished manuscript...
Tell us a little about your story – what is your book about?
Special is the book that I needed when my 6-month-old son, Arlo, was diagnosed with cerebal palsy and I felt like my whole world was ending. I was obsessing over things, like ‘Why me?’, and I was so scared about what the future would look like.
I was really desperate for a glimpse of ‘older Arlo’, just to check that he would definitely be walking. Him being able to walk was the biggest deal ever for me. What I didn’t want to do at that point was meet other parents raising kids with disabilities (that was the last thing I wanted to do) – but it was a thing all of the specialists were saying I should do.
Why did you decide to write Special?
In order to avoid socialising, I put my journalist cap on and decided to at least pretend to be writing a book, so I could interview parents, in a very one-sided interview style, to ask them what they did to feel better when they first got the diagnosis, or when they realised that their child wasn’t travelling a typical path. I wanted them to tell me that they felt happy, and that in hindsight, this wasn’t what they thought it was going to be.
I ended up interviewing over 50 parents all over the world, with kids with all sorts of disabilities, and this book is a big mish-mash of their advice, their insights, their hindsight. I also spoke to professionals – psychologists and specialists in the disability sector – who gave me expert guidance, meditations, those sort of things, to help as well.