Michelle asks public to help publish novel
WEXFORD WRITER Michelle Dooley Mahon has shared her experience of having a mother with dementia through her Facebook page and blog, attracting many followers.
Now, she has decided to compile her memories into her debut novel and is appealing to the public to help her to publish it through her Fund-it campaign.
The memoire, entitled 'Scourge', developed from Michelle's online accounts of her life with her mother Siobhán. According to Michelle, her writing began as a personal escape.
'Initially, I was doing it for my own sake,' she explained. 'It helped me to vent and I found it very therapeutic.'
Michelle soon found that her writing was attracting much attention, particularly from people going through similar experiences.
'My email inbox is full with people thanking me for my honesty,' she said. 'I have received messages from people all over the world.'
The novel, which was written over four years, takes the reader on a journey from Siobhan's initial diagnosis, to her decline right up to her sad death which occurred earlier this year. Michelle describes it as an 'honest memoire' which is 'both humorous and heart-breaking'.
'My mother was unable to speak for the last few years of her life so, through writing this book, I was being her voice,' she added.
Beginning in the 1960's, the tandem narrative unravels the memories of life in a small Irish town, narrated by Michelle and her mother in a series of flashbacks.
The book is comprised of sections of black comedy, nostalgia, memories and epiphanies that document the life of an ordinary family.
It also shines a light on an illness that is rarely discussed in such great detail.
'There is such a stigma attached to dementia,' said Michelle. 'When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, they are given help and a treatment plan. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, they are basically told to go home and go insane.'
Michelle decided to publish her book through crowdfunding as she didn't want any changes to be made to it.
'The whole thing goes out of your hands when you submit it to a publisher,' she said. 'I also didn't want it to be sitting in a pile for 18 months before somebody found it.'
To date, Michelle has raised €3500 towards the project and has two weeks left to reach her target of €5000. Although she found the crowdfunding process difficult at first, Michelle is now determined to reach her goal.
'I will do it or die trying,' she laughed.
The book will be launched in October in Carlow, where Michelle's mother Siobhán was originally from. Those who wish to donate can do so at www.fundit.ie/project/scourged-a-memoir or donate directly to Michelle.