Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Using your novel as a weapon

A wee preview of the upcoming review by the ME Association describes The State of Me as 'a remarkable first novel... absolutely word perfect on neurological ME'. Am so happy as I was a little worried about getting the science right, there is so much of it, after all, and I was specifically trying to get across the thoughts which were predominant in the 80s/90s. Also, I didn't want to clutter the novel with clinical facts, that would have suffocated the story, and been immensely dull, that is why I used the 'stranger dialogue' technique. It was one thing to describe symptoms through Helens' voice - I was confident when she said things like 'even my hands feel ill' - but another to inform the reader of the complex, often highly emotive debate about the illness. It's also a great feeling to be on the MEA booklist - I used to thrust copies of Dr Charles Shepherd's Living with M.E into the hands of non-believers, back in those dark days, and now I hope others can use TSoM as their weapon.

22 comments:

Susan said...

Congratulations on the booklist and the review!

McBöbø said...

Well done Nasim. It lovely to be so powerfully recognised by those who really know.

cusp said...

I think you got the balance just right and that's why the novel's such a success. The plot and the interest is driven by the characters and their lives and the ME issue is just a part -- though a central part. Given that, in a way, you wanted it to be about a PWME and to inform people about life with ME, it shows what a deft touch you have because you haven't suffocated the narrative with medical facts or misery, which is a pretty tall order.

trousers said...

Agreed with all the above comments - I think the novel may prove to be a more powerful weapon than so many clinical texts or whatever, thanks to its readability and accessibility. Excellent news!

nmj said...

thanks, all, for your comments - i fear i have been phished (the bastards) so i am wasting energy on sorting that out.

Mellifluous Dark said...

Well done. That is a tricky balance to strike and I reckon you did so superbly.
x

nmj said...

thanks, mell d, for your kind words x

Daisy said...

Hello, just found your blog and I'm so glad I have. I have lots to catch up on - I have had ME for years, and I have never read anything that really explained what it's like. Congratulations on the success of the book, and I look forward to reading it!

nmj said...

hey daisy, thanks, hope you enjoy TSoM, i think you can get it on amazon france.

That's So Pants said...

Hi NMJ

Fab. I have finally found TSoM for sale online in Australia - Booktopia if anyone asks. I'm putting in my order right now! How do you know when you've been phised?

xxx

Pants

nmj said...

hey pants, so nice to see you, delighted you have found a way to order but you could have got it already free delivery from the book depository, the link is in my sidebar! i know HC australia will have it soon and also a site called shearer's, can you get it from booktopia straight away? i think greenwords mentioned that one a while back in a thread. hope you enjoying the sun, we have gales here, as if i have to tell you, gales are the default weather from now til june.x

nmj said...

ps. there is a phishing scam goin on just now where they pretend to be tiscali in an email & link you to a fake site which is not really tiscali but phishing site, i logged in but luckily didn't give any bank details, it is so easy to be taken in by these people. i reported it to tiscali who at first thought it was a technical fault on their site and it was only later i realised i had been phished - there is actually a link on the tiscali site pointing out these recent scams but no-one seens to have told the tiscali helpliners... sorry, pants am sure you did not really need to know all of this, just letting off steam. x ps tiscali are not my favourite people just now, i hate them marginally less than i hate the phishers.

Pippa said...

I DO use it as a weapon! Thank you for giving me that weapon :o)

Mo said...

Congrats on getting on to the ME Assoc list. I'm sure that will really help to spread the word.

I think the little interview sections in the book were a great way of explaining the illness in laymans' terms. I think they worked really well.

Sue Jackson said...

I just finished reading your novel this afternoon, and I loved it! I was sorry when it ended - I feel like Helen is a friend now. I've been horribly crashed this week - pretty much bed-ridden - and your book was the perfect medicine.

I had fun trying to translate all the Scottish words into American (a few I never did figure out). The funny thing is that I read your blog all the time but thought you lived in Australia for some reason! Didn't take me too long into the book to figure out my mistake.

I plan to review your book formally on my blog as soon as I am up to it.

Congratulations on an engaging and well-written first novel!

Sue

nmj said...

glad, it can be your weapon, pippa.

thanks, mo.

hey sue, i wish i lived in australia for the sun but the spiders i couldn't cope with (like helen!)

kp said...

i read the amazon reviews before buying the book, and have to say that review confused me entirely...here in australia our illness is almost always referred to as CFS. otherwise it's seen as fairly interchangeable with the name ME (or so i thought). reading the review i was quite stunned - how could i possibly have this illness severely for 20+ years and not know there was a difference?! anyway, didn't deter me in the slightest and both my mum and i have finished your book now and took so much from it. i was so grateful for the inclusion of fizza for the way in which she represented another part of the spectrum and gave another perspective.

SO much of what you wrote had eerie similarities to my 'story' and yet there were parts where i felt this almost jealousy, thinking that these were things i was never well enough to do. for me fizza added another dimension of understanding of the illness in its myriad of guises - and makes me feel more comfortable to recommend this to people in my life who still don't understand just how serious an illness this can be.

ever so grateful to you for writing this book, i'm going to pass it on and recommend it to lots of people. and really looking forward to the doco too.

kp said...

PS - hoped throughout the last days (since i finished reading) that the 'happy ending' with your relationship was something that really happened. tore at my heartstrings, since my relationship was a casualty of the illness - can't tell you how much your reactions to things were like mine in the face of it breaking down - yet i ached for it to be true for you.

nmj said...

thanks, kp, glad you enjoyed the book... yes, fizza has ongoing severe ME, so naturally those readers who are, sadly, longterm severe will identify more with her experiences... helen is severe and makes a slow journey to moderate... my own journey is not exactly helen's, i did not have such a 'smooth' severe-to-moderate curve: i have had severe relapses, too complex to include in narrative, and not workable in a narrative arc... however, these days, i consider myself moderate/permanent ME...

kp said...

i wondered (and wondered) throughout the book and afterward how much of helen was you...the fictionalised (arghhh, mr spellcheck, in australia we actually spell it with an 's', get over it. sorry. now where was i?)

yes, the whole 'fictionalised' memoir bit...confusing! do see though how this is all WAY too complicated to explain and distill into a simple and easily readable book.

nmj said...

hey again, i think it best to approach the book as an autobiographical novel, for that is what it is, i did not want to write my own life story, i wanted to create a fictional character, perhaps that was a distancing mechanism to protect myself, i wanted to describe the hell of the illness, but have/had no desire to reveal my actual relationships to the world!

kp said...

very understandable! (the not wanting to expose everything of yourself) i think this illness does a good enough job itself of stripping us bare and taking our privacy hostage.