When Real Life Turns to Fiction
May 16, 2007
Last week I invited you to a fundraiser/book launch party for Maureen Lang’s book The Oak Leaves.
Here are the details again.
THE OAK LEAVES
By Maureen Lang, Tyndale House Publishers
Talie Ingram’s world is shattered when she discovers a shocking family secret in the 19th century journal of one of her ancestors, Cosima Escott. Only in reading Cosima’s words can Talie make peace with the legacy she’s inherited, and the one she’s passed on to her son.
Where: The Libertyville Civic Center
135 W Church Street
Libertyville, IL 60048
When: Sunday Afternoon
May 20th, 2007
Stop in between 2:30 and 6 pm
Why: To benefit the National Fragile X
Coffee, tea and cookies will be served.
The content of this Inspirational novel includes characters with Fragile X Syndrome, a genetic disorder of the brain. Books will be on sale at this event for $13.00 each and all proceeds will go to The National Fragile X Foundation for research and education.
If unable to attend but would like to donate, please send your tax-deductible donation to: The National Fragile X Foundation, PO Box 190488, San Francisco, California 94119-0488
SB: Why did you write The Oak Leaves?
ML: Mostly to bring attention to Fragile X Syndrome and let others share in this life experience. Even though I believe one of the most difficult things in life is to face a serious diagnosis for your child, it was helpful to me to look at how it changed my life — and try to find something good to say about it. At the time of the diagnosis I questioned many things, not the least of which was why a good God would allow this to happen to those He supposedly loves (my husband, my son, my other children, our extended family, myself).
Writing this book helped me to assimilate all the sermons I’ve heard about how God gave us free will in order to teach us to love. Free will brought all kinds of havoc — but without it, we’d all be robots without the faintest idea of what it means to love God or each other. And that would make the world a far different place than one in which we have to face evil and disease.
SB: How much of the novel is true? Did you find a journal and learn that Fragile X had been in your family for generations?
ML: Although Fragile X must have been in my family for at least three generations before it displayed itself in my son, the journal and everything else in The Oak Leaves is pure fiction.
However, like Talie, I had recently found out I was pregnant again when my son was diagnosed. I went through the remainder of my third (and final) pregnancy not knowing whether I would have a healthy baby or another Fragile X child.
SB: What kind of long-term prognosis is typical for a person with Fragile X Syndrome?
ML: Since Fragile X isn’t a degenerative disorder, people with Fragile X have a normal life expectancy — which is both good news and bad. It means at some point they must receive care from someone other than their parents. A typical Fragile X’er with moderate mental impairment will always need some kind of help. My son, being on the low end of the functional spectrum, will always need someone to be responsible for him because he has virtually no language and needs help at every level of personal care. Which is why I tend to be passionate about research!
SB: How does Royboy, the Fragile X child portrayed in The Oak Leaves, compare to your son?
ML: I created Royboy to match my son as closely as possible, because my son is the Fragile X-er I know best. But as portrayed in the book, there are varying degrees of affectedness.
Many Fragile X-ers attain good language skills, can read to a limited degree, and even play some sports. This unfortunately has not been the case for my son. He is considered “low-functioning” on the Fragile X scale.
SB: What lessons did you learn in writing this story? Has it impacted your faith?
ML: I’m thankful that this challenge has deepened my faith. I’ve just finished the sequel The Oak Leaves, and this book addresses some of the things I’ve learned about dealing with a daily challenge — one of the “biggies” being that we’re supposed to strive to be like Christ, and He was a servant. There’s nothing like serving a handicapped child to remind you this is one role God wants us to be in!
SB: How do you hope this book will help others dealing with a serious diagnosis on one of their children?
ML: I hope The Oak Leaves will bring comfort to those who’ve faced a serious diagnosis on a child, to remind them God really does love them despite such an unexpected and serious turn in life. I also hope, for a moment, to take them out of themselves and entertain them by inviting them into another world. That’s why I blended the sad part of Fragile X in with the historical thread. I hope it’s a pleasant diversion.
SB: Obviously it’s demanding to be a wife, mother, and a mom to a special needs child. How do you juggle all that and manage to write, too?
ML: I don’t pretend to be the most organized person in the world, but I’ve learned to prioritize my writing. I write when my boys go off to school, and let other things wait. I tend to do laundry and housecleaning when everyone else is home, treating my writing as my full time job. It helps, although I do get frustrated sometimes because I’d prefer to live a more organized life.
I’m looking forward to this event Sunday. My husband has a softball game during that time period, but I’m hoping to manage a quick drop-in. If you’re in the area, please drop in, too. If you’re not near Chicago, you can still support the National Fragile X Foundation by buying Maureen’s book on their website, www.fragilex.org. The book will not be available there until June.