Can you tell us how and when you were diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes?
I was diagnosed when I was twelve (I’m 38, now). My D-Day story is rather typical. I’d been feeling run down for a couple of weeks, but not enough to keep me from playing basketball or from attending school. I was just TIRED. Then I started falling asleep in class. And I became insanely thirsty. And then one morning I was so exhausted I couldn’t get dressed. That was the day I was diagnosed. My mother, an RN, came home with Ketosticks, and we did a test at home. She then warned me that something might be wrong, but we needed a doctor to confirm. The ride to the doctor’s is one that is forever seared in my mind. I knew everything would change. And it did.
When did you know that you wanted to be an Author? What was your motivation to write.
At this point in my career I have met many authors, and there’s a 50/50 split with us who always knew they were going to write and those of us who kind of stumbled into it. I’m the latter half. In school I did well, but not exceptional. I wasn’t a “creative type.” Then in my senior year of college I took a creative writing course. I was terrible at fiction and all right at poetry, and that stung, not because it mattered for the grade, but because I knew I could do better. That was the spark that drove me for years and then I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and in it he talks about how you know you are a writer when you read something and realize: I can write better than this. I had a few of those moments and it only further solidified the notion I was working toward.
You are also a teacher, how does that work into your writing career?
I have taught high school English for over 14 years, and I write Young Adult fiction––stories about teenagers. Therefore, I have the advantage of always talking about stories, always analyzing them, discussing the good, bad, and the ugly about the writing of them as well. This forces me to practice what I teach in my own work. I also have the good fortune of working with my target audience. Honing the voice of teens, describing their personalities, making them come to life on page, is a little bit easier, I believe, because I am immersed in their world every day.
Can you tell us how you manage your day to day life around diabetes?
Twenty-five years have taught me so much about this disease and about myself. I do the best I can to keep my numbers in range (95-190) throughout the day, but know that some days that just won’t happen, and other days, it will be easy. Using a CGM has drastically changed my life with diabetes. The nagging questions are gone: What am I now? Am I going low? Running high? All I have to do is look at my phone and adjust accordingly. Therefore, getting ahead of the numbers is my goal. Pre-meal blousing, eating before I’m actually low, watching to see if the trend arrow flattens out, these are the things I do to maintain. I tend to eat a lower carbohydrate diet than what the ADA suggests, simply because it helps. During the work week, I usually eat the same things at the same time. The school schedule to only works for kids, but adults, too. I also try to think of the numbers as just that, numbers. I used to mentally beat myself up for highs and lows, mostly because they seemingly came out of nowhere. With the technology that exists now, I can troubleshoot the reasons much more easily. It sounds cheesy, but knowing really is half the battle. So I load up on data and do the best I possibly can.
You have a daughter who also has Type 1 Diabetes, how old was she when she was diagnosed?
My daughter, Kaygan, was five when she was diagnosed (she’ll be nine, soon). Do you and your daughter compare notes on what pumps to use? Meters etc?
Do you use the same devices or do you each pick your own?
Kaygan quickly went from pen injections to the pump, because I knew how to use it. And she went with the Animas Ping because that’s what I was using. This allowed for us not to have to learn a new product, while also learning about her diabetes. Because if there’s any truth in all of this, we all have our unique disease. We used the same meter and I purchased the Delica lancet pen for us both, because I had researched the most gentle on the market. However, a year ago, Kaygan decided she wanted to go on the Pod after meeting kids at the Sugar Free Gang who were using it. We also convinced her that the CGM was a good idea as well. I have sensitive skin and was worried about both products for myself, but after seeing her do so well with both, I followed suit. Therefore, after twenty-four years, I followed someone else’s lead, which was exceptionally interesting for all of us. And by all of us, I mean my wife and my other daughter, Grace. I’ve written and spoken about diabetes being a family disease. Everyone needs to be on board to help, because it should never be any one person’s burden––not the caregiver, nor the afflicted. Kaygan and I have the best therapy in my Wife and Grace. They support the two of us through everything. Some medicine you just can’t order.
What future books are you planning?
I have a novel coming out on October 4th called Look Past. It’s a murder mystery, and is quite scary, which pleases me to no end. I have also just submitted my next novel to my agent. Fingers crossed, that will be my 2017 release. I also have two other projects in the works and will most likely start another this summer.
What are the names of the books you have written so far and where can we find them.
From most recent:
Look Past(Pre-order now)
All but This Side of Normal are published by Running Press, which is an imprint of Hachette. Therefore, you can get my books anywhere. If any are not in stock, the store can have one for you in a heartbeat. Of course you can also order on Amazon. All titles are available as physical copies or e-books. Which is also true for This Side of Normal. There’s a long story about the publishing industry with that one, but suffice it to say, the title is now owned by me, and is available in paper back and e-book.
Feel free to follow up about any of my work, here: