That’s My Boy

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Us

Readers familiar with my background know that I have an intellectually disabled, neurodiverse son, and readers familiar with my work know that intellectual disability and neurodiversity feature in the novels Kindling, Are You Seeing Me? and Munro vs. the Coyote / Exchange of Heart.

Inevitably, the question has arisen:

“Is that your boy on the page?”

The long answer is I used aspects of his manner, language, attitude and interests as a jumping-off point to create characters that assumed their own living, breathing, authentic fictional lives. The short answer is no.

My new novel Boy in the Blue Hammock will be out next spring and, surprise surprise, it centres an intellectually disabled, neurodiverse protagonist. And already I can hear the question again, distant but persistent, making its way towards me like I’m a destination on Google Maps:

“Is that your boy on the page?”

My answer this time around?

Yes.

Absolutely, yes.

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Six Nods To #NoVoices

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(Image from Flaticon)

#OwnVoices is an essential movement. If you don’t know about it, you should read this. Incontrovertibly, marginalized groups must be afforded every opportunity to tell/write/publish/sell their own stories. Privileged, able, cishet, white, middle-class, dude scribblers like me do not have to stay out of the imaginative lanes of these groups, but we must drive with extreme care. It bears repeating — #OwnVoices is an essential movement.

No less important are those groups with #NoVoices.

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‘Exchange of Heart’ – The Stuck-in-an-Elevator Pitch

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Sometimes, Life takes on a life of its own…

Since the sudden death of his younger sister, Munro Maddux has been stuck. Flashbacks. Anger. Chest pains. And a voice – taunting, barking, biting – that his counsellor calls ‘the Coyote’. Munro knows a student exchange will not be the stuff of Disney movies. But in Australia he intends to move beyond his troubled past.

Forced by his new school to join a volunteer program, Munro discovers the Coyote is silenced in one place: Fair Go, an assisted living residence in Brisbane’s west, where Munro gets to know his team of residents: dogged designer Bernie; sleeping refugee Shah; would-be wedded couple Blake and Dale; comic creator Iggy; and self-defence tutor Florence. As this unlikely group shows Munro the sights, Munro’s notion of what it means to be a big brother begins to change.

But the burden Munro carries is not so easily cast aside, and unexpected developments at Fair Go prompt a devastating flashback that threatens to end the student exchange. Will the Coyote ultimately triumph? Or can Munro find the fortitude necessary to mend his heart?

‘Funny-sad, authentic and uplifting – Groth is a writer who can pivot from heartbreak to humour without missing a beat.’ Vikki Wakefield, author of All I Ever Wanted

Exchange of Heart will be published in AUS/NZ July 31, 2017. In CAN/US, the book will be released October 17, 2017 under the title Munro vs. the Coyote.
You can mark it as ‘to-read’ on Goodreads here and here.

Words Gone, Words Returned

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Journal

11.00am, July 21st 2001. In the too-familiar confines of Brisbane’s Wesley Hospital, my daughter is born. Three minutes later, my son follows.

How to properly mark the arrival of my children into the world? What can I do to let them know they are loved from the first second forward?

I will write them a journal. One each. Until their fifth birthdays. It makes sense; I have so few skills, but seeing lives, conjuring thoughts, assembling words – these are my staples.

I write. Moments of hilarity, of poignancy. I fill small pages with tiny details and big imagination. Flickers of a technicolour film in its formative months. I write fast for ten months.

Then I am slow.

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‘Another’ Post About Book Diversity

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Diverse Books

First, the good news:

The recent #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter coup was an admirable rebuff of the longstanding hegemonies in children’s and young adult fiction. It doesn’t look like a flash in the pan either, so that’s good too.

Now, the bad news:

The whole exercise has further illustrated – dare I say, reinforced – the pecking order of minorities in both the book debate and the wider society looking on.

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