‘Catch It Anytime You Can’
by Anna Lickley
Anna Lickley, age 38 from Yorkshire UK, was diagnosed with NF2 in her late teens and is the first in her family to have the condition. She has been profoundly deaf since 1995, visually impaired, and lives with other challenges such as balance loss and facial palsy. Anna’s main interests include horse riding, travelling, reading, and of course writing!
Formerly Anna was a teacher/trainer in disability and deaf equality as well as teaching BSL. In July 2013 Anna was published in the collection of inspirational life stories ‘NF2: Our Journeys’ and since then has published her first novel ‘Catch It Anytime You Can’. Can You Hear Us? were eager to know all about Anna’s new book and her experience in creating it and were delighted that she took the time to produce this piece for us.
How did the idea of writing the book come about?
I remember the idea [to create the book] first germinating over coffee with a friend. She had recently published a book about her experiences with post natal depression. She encouraged me no end to write something and then later another friend suggested I start a blog about life with NF2.
The idea was that a blog would be easier and break me into writing. I loved doing the blog and found I had loads of ideas so I went on a writers’ course where I was inspired to try writing a novel based around my blog posts. ‘Catch It Anytime You Can’ was the result.
I wanted to write a book aimed at people who know very little or nothing about NF2 or disability, which is why I have written it as fiction. My biggest aim is to raise awareness of NF2 in a totally un-medical and un-academic way. I hope that people read the book for the pleasure of reading a book and just happen to learn about NF2 in the process!
The book also has an excellent and informative appendix at the end, written by Dr Susan Huson, that fully explains NF2 to people who have had their interest aroused in reading about Nicola [the main character in the book]. We hope that people can get a full and accurate idea of all sides of NF2.
What is the book about?
Really it is about life with NF2 and also the affects diagnosis has on family and friends. It is written as fiction but the central character, Nicola, has NF2 and is based on me (only because I know me best!). I wanted it to be a true and accurate slice of NF2 life and so I wrote about real events. There are also things that I know are important to lots of us with NF2 that I have included in the book.
Other characters are based on real people but their opinions and background info is made up using my own observations and experiences of life.
I have tried to make readers laugh and then cry with Nicola through difficult times.
What is the key message of the book?
The key message, in a nutshell, is hope and the true essence of what hope is. It is about accepting challenges that no-one in their right mind would choose and then finding the rays of light and hope.
How long was the process between having the idea to seeing the book printed?
I started my blog in September 2010 and began writing the book in March 2012. The process of writing it and the ideas I had for its structure evolved as I wrote. It seemed to write itself once I got going and I finished it within about six months. The longest time was getting it published. It is very very hard to get even an agent as a first time novelist and so, impatient to have the book in print, I self- published through a publishers based in Huddersfield, West Yorks. It has taken over a year to get it in print.
How did it feel to finally see the book in print and what did it mean to you?
I love the way the book looks. My niece Lilian Baldwin did a fantastic image for the front cover, which we have called ‘Holding Hope’. I feel immensely delighted to have it printed and to see people buying it. Profits from the sale of the book are going to the Neuro Foundation.
The book has been on sale for one week and we have already sold over 150 copies.
How will you publicise your book?
Currently I am mostly telling people about it on Facebook and hope that it will sell through word of mouth recommendation. The book has a FB page called ‘Anna Lickley’s Catch It Anytime You Can’ and I hope that as many people as possible will like and share the page.
I also had an article printed in my local paper before the launch. It is on the web and the link is http://www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk/news/news_local/10825833.Ilkley_woman_with_rare_illness_pens_novel/
Later, I will write articles and send them to magazines and other media to talk about the book and raise awareness of NF2.
I think the best way to get attention of NF2 is by highlighting the human side of it and I hope the book’s central character, Nicola, provides that.
Where will you publicise it? Globally/UK only?
I am starting in the UK. It is currently listed on the Amazon European marketplace although I do have a view to make it available in the States; beginning publicity through Facebook and the American contacts I have on there.
When and how was your book launch celebrated?
I had a book launch party last week on Tuesday December 3rd at the Ilkley Moor Vaults pub. About fifty people came (mostly friends and family) and we sold almost sixty copies that night. I had a friend with me to help with communication and signed a lot of books!
What response/feedback have you had from your book? Could you supply some quotes?
I am really very pleased with the feedback. Before publication, I received some lovely comments and have put some quotes on the back cover of the book:
“Anna Lickley’s book made me laugh out loud and cry out loud and challenged the whole way I respond to illness and disability.” (John Turner, reader)
“Catch it anytime you can is very good, very funny and very sad.” (Liz Jobey, writer and journalist)
“Reading Catch it anytime you can was one of the most moving experiences of my professional life.” (Dr Susan Huson, Consultant Clinical Geneticist)
“Anna Lickley’s marvellous book showcases a unique sense of humour that can bring you to tears.” (Claire James, reader)
Other people who live in Ilkley and came to the launch have said that they were really moved by it and learned lots about NF2; which challenged any preconceptions about living with disability and serious illness.
All in all it is better than I could have hoped for! A book group in Ilkley has put Catch It Anytime You Can on their reading list and a practitioner of alternative therapies has recommended it for students to read who are studying and training as therapists at the college she went to.
You can purchase ‘Catch It Anytime You Can’ from any bookstore. It can also be purchased via amazon, where it is also now available for kindle. Search for ‘Catch It Anytime You Can’ or ‘Anna Lickley’
Amazon Prime members can also borrow the book through the Amazon Lending Library, and anyone who has purchased the paperback version of the book can also purchase the kindle version for just 99p. The kindle version is available worldwide.