It’s been said that everyone has at least one book in them. Excepting one waggish Harpers editor who quipped that in most cases that’s where it should stay, I submit that in most cases, that is where it stays.
Despite the tens of thousands of books published every year, I’d venture there are a million more attempts—enthusiastic starts and inevitable stops—laying around in cupboards, languishing on hard-drives.
Deb E. Berg (a.k.a. my wife) is someone who has started and finished the book that was within, quite splendidly I might add…freely admitting my bias.
There is of course a variety of reasons one takes up the pen, along with the challenge. I’ve heard Deb refer to her book as a labour of love. And for most authors, no doubt it’s no different. For Deb though, the labour is perhaps borne out of a more tenacious love, for as she freely admits, she is not someone who necessarily enjoys the act of writing. But on the heels of this I add, as would she, that she is someone who enjoys, has always enjoyed, telling a story. And is this not the heart and kidneys of any written work?
It started, this penchant for narrative, in her preteens. She began spinning tales for her younger siblings as a way to pass time while shelling peas, weeding the garden and other various farm tasks. One or two of these yarns she wrote down: “When the Witches were Unfriendly,” was one of her early hits, and scared the bejebus out of her preschool brother and sister—likely for the sole reason that it employed witches. She still has the carefully typed copy of it, complete with pencilled graphic cover and illustrations, self-conceptualized and self-created.
Her current creation however, while never scary in that witchery-way, does have the fantastical about it…has it in spades, as they say. It’s a genre she enjoys, and in Ja-mya and the Journey it shows.
How the forming of the book came about however is another story. Dark and unavoidable elements in her (our) life—worrisome and seemingly unanswerable—had been (occasionally still is) the stuff of the day-to-day. As Deb explains, she took the advise she often gave to her clients: that in order to stop the plague of a worrisome line of thought, think on something else. That is, concentrate of the constellation Cassiopeia instead of that satellite-imitating-a-star that has no bloody business roping and riding off with your attention. Or as Deb puts it, if your tired thinking of pink elephants, think about blue alligators. It’s a way of coping in the immediate so as to gain time and space and come back to the issue fresh, or at least, sans exhaustion. Thinking about blue alligators turned into this book.
Ja-mya and the Journey combines Deb’s love of the Enneagram, a personality typology (she’s a certified trainer) her forte’ for counselling (she has a Masters) and her love (certifiable) for her kids and granddaughter. Her book casts our kids as characters and was, first and foremost, written with her granddaughter as her audience. I’d like to add here that yours truly also makes an appearance: as a wise, albeit wizened one. Apparently you cannot have it all—even in fiction.
The book, written for tweens, but potentially enjoyed by all, is a fun fantasy that carries an objective: through the difficult but necessary cessation of cloying personal expectations, rivalries, and jealousies, comes the dawn of self-awareness, which brings the recognition and reception of one’s true heart’s desire.
How can all this happen within the intricacies of fourth dimension travel, colliding cultures and other-worldly communities, and encounters with fairies and flying dragons? Well, you’ll need to read the book. And should you, there may be in it an encounter with your own deeper self.
My granddaughter Madison sketched the dragon, which appears on the inside cover. Elpis, the flying dragon, is an important character in the book. Aren’t flying dragons always important?