“Both reviews are very positive; they felt the proposal was very well shaped with no recommendations for any changes needed.”Feedback from publishing submission for Living With a Spinal Cord Injury: My Life as a Quadriplegic.
When Joseph English was involved in a road traffic accident, it ripped away the life he’d known, and set him on a very different path. Joe wanted a book that gave an unstintingly honest picture of his new life as a quadriplegic.
We wanted the book to appeal to a wide range of readers. Principally, it was for anyone coming to terms with quadriplegia, paraplegia, and other spinal cord injuries. (During his rehabilitation, Joe had looked for books he could read about other people’s struggles, and found none.) But the book also needed to be for friends and family, care practitioners, and medical staff too. It needed to be a resource for anyone involved in that journey, a book that addressed and answered difficult questions, and never scrimped on Joe’s truth.
As well as conducting extensive interviews with Joe, I interviewed around 20 additional contributors. I spoke to Joe’s friends and family to help people understand the impact and effects of such a life-changing injury on key relationships. And I spoke to medical staff, and other professionals, whose contributions helped lift the veil on the rehabilitation and care pathways.
In several other books I’d worked on featuring multiple voices, each contributor had typically had their own distinct section or chapter. In this case, I wanted the contributors’ voices to weave in and out of the narrative, to give the feeling of the whole group telling the story from the beginning. This helped give the narrative a more informal, conversational feel.
For maximum impact, we started the book with the details of the crash in which Joe suffered his life-altering injuries. Then, as Joe began to recover slowly in intensive care, we backfilled some of the details about his life before the crash.
It was vitally important that Joe was unfailingly honest in telling his story, particularly when discussing the enormous toll of losing the life he had loved. While that makes some sections of the book particularly difficult to read, Joe’s candour makes this a very real, very relatable, and very important book.
With the manuscript complete, I helped Joe find a publisher for his book. Routledge gave very favourable feedback, and chose the book to launch their new ‘After Physical Injury: Survivor Stories’ series.
Living with a Spinal Cord Injury: My Life as a Quadriplegic is published by Routledge in August 2023.