Author Introduction: Abi Pearson
This week our guest author is my good friend A.R. Pearson who has a very compelling story to share with all of you.
The Legacy You Leave Behind
My name is A. R. Pearson. I’m the author of the fantasy fiction books entitled: The Wayfarer’s Journey and The Child of Light.
When I was a child, I loved writing stories; it was my passion. I told myself that one day I would become a published author, and my pen name would be A. R. Pearson, which is my initials and surname. I got the idea from reading fantasy books by L.E. Modesitt Jr. The first ever fantasy book I read was called The Magic Engineer. It was given to me by a family friend of my mum’s, and I found it fascinating. It lit the flame. Then my sister introduced me to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga and my desire to write grew even stronger. I knew exactly what my book was going to be about—Jack Orden!
Jack was my childhood imaginary friend. I built him based upon heroes from my favorite Eighties childhood films. Madmartigan—Willow; Westley—The Princess Bride; Colwyn—Krull, and, finally; Jack—Legend. This film is how I fell in love with the names Jack and Lily. (Lily being my stories princess.)
I have always had a vivid imagination. I remember when I was very young writing a word on a piece of paper and showing it to my sister; asking her what it said. The word was Peabea, and Peabea Land became my imaginary kingdom that could be found on the clouds. Jack would often come to help me when the clouds grew dark and my bad guy, called Aidan, came to attack.
Jack was from another kingdom and I could summon him via the Magical Rainbow Pool.
Sometimes I would go to his kingdom to visit, but sometimes Aidan caught me on my journey, and I would end up in his dark fortress instead. All my book characters lived in the various kingdoms. I think I spent more time playing games in my head with them than I did with actual real children!
To be honest, I suffered a lot of bullying when I was in primary school and the only way I felt I could survive the outside break and lunch periods was by disappearing to my imaginary kingdoms above.
My bullies pursued me to high school and even into college. I continued to use Jack as my escape, but I never told anyone about him until many years later.
At age nineteen I had my first child and became very ill. Between 2000 and 2003 I spent a lot of time in the hospital while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with me. It was during those three years I turned once again to Jack for help. I honestly thought I was going to die. Missing out on so much of my daughter’s first years also weighed heavily on my mind. I got through the long, boring hospital stays by writing down Jack’s story. It was important to me that it was recorded somewhere; I felt Jack deserved that. I also wanted my daughter to know about him when she was old enough to understand. After all, he’d been my best friend for most of my life.
In 2003 the doctors finally found out I was suffering kidney failure in my right kidney, and in the March of that year, they removed it. I spent my recovery period at home transferring my hand-written manuscript onto my computer. I split the story into two books: The Wayfarer’s Journey and The Child of Light and filed them onto Dropbox for safekeeping. Now, more than ever, I hoped I could achieve my dream and one day publish them.
I recovered from my kidney removal and went on to get a job at my daughter’s primary school. I was living on my own and had been raising her by myself since she was two weeks old. When I was ill in the hospital my parents had looked after her for me.
When my daughter was five, I made a lovely group of friends and I shared with them my dream of writing a book. I even let a couple of them see my manuscript, but I didn’t pursue anything regarding publishing at that time.
I had my second daughter in 2006 with a new partner, but that relationship broke down before she was born, so I raised her alone too, and I continued to work. This was a very positive period in my life. I discovered poetry and wrote several poems, which were published by United Press. They even made me my own poetry book in 2012 as a prize for being selected so many times for publication.
I didn’t do anything with it because I’d had my twins, a boy, and a girl, in 2012. Again, I had been unlucky in love, and this time it was very unlucky because I suffered domestic abuse at the hands of my partner. There was police involvement and he was arrested. He’s not allowed access to the children. I have stayed single ever since. Regrettably, I also haven’t written any new poetry since then either.
Raising all four of my children alone, running a home, holding down a job, and penning poetry had kept me busy over the years, but that didn’t mean I had forgotten Jack. I often looked to the sky to see if the clouds were white or if the dark ones were coming closer, bringing Aidan to attack my land. I even told my children the story of my imaginary Peabea Land, and about my manuscripts that I hoped one day, I would publish. My older girls both joined me in writing and publishing poetry with United Press, an achievement that made me incredibly proud.
It was early June of 2018 when Jack’s manuscripts in Dropbox were finally opened again. I’d come across them while looking for some important life insurance papers, I’ll explain more about that later.
Before the rediscovery of the manuscripts, I’d spent four years fighting to get my son, the oldest twin, help with his behavioral problems. My eldest daughter has Asperger’s, but it took until she was sixteen to get the diagnoses. I didn’t want that long wait for my son. I did everything I could think of. Turned to every professional I could get my hands on, but nobody would listen, and he was just getting worse.
In 2017 things were going so badly for me that I suffered a mental breakdown. I was still trying to work and look after the children on top of coping with my depression and anxiety. I had seen my son’s first violent outburst way back on Boxing Day in 2013, shortly before he turned two. But his nursery, and then the primary school, said he was “perfectly normal”.
It wasn’t until 2017, when my son started in Year One, that they changed their tune, and my son found himself in complete isolation with a 1:1 teaching assistant all day long. I found out about the daily isolation in October 2017, about seven weeks after it had been implemented. Then my son had to go onto a reduced timetable until Christmas, which created even more problems.
I was in counseling at the time and thank goodness I was! The stress of my son’s problems sadly led me to suffer a second mental breakdown that month and left me suffering from suicidal thoughts.
Gary, my counselor, was phenomenal. He led me out of my black tunnel and back into the light. He gave me the tools I needed to rebuild myself. When he and I parted ways in March of 2018, I was back on top! Before I left, I told him about my manuscripts and gave him a copy of my poetry book, Through My Eyes. He told me I should pursue my dreams.
My son was excluded from school at the end of March 2018, and I finally stood up and said enough was enough! I pushed harder than ever to get him the help he needed. I applied for an Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP), and not only did I get it, but I also secured him 3D top-level funding!
I honored Gary and his amazing work by getting a tattoo on my arm of him leading me from the black tunnel. It says above it: “I’m here with you” because that was what he always said to me in sessions. I put his name underneath, so I’d never forget him.
I should have been on top of the world, but I wasn’t. I’d been off work with my depression and anxiety since January of 2018, and despite getting all my fight back after my counseling ended in March, I couldn’t beat my anxiety. I had a very dark cloud hanging over my head regarding my job.
As mentioned previously, I worked at the primary school. I had been employed there in various positions ever since my first child had started in Reception. My current job was in the out of hours club. I loved it, but the only way I could work there was by taking my three primary aged children into the club with me. They all attended the school anyway, and I was given the job with the full understanding I needed that provision.
When my son went onto the reduced timetable, his behavior within the club deteriorated. He was coming home from school at lunchtime and he didn’t want to go back at 3 pm to go into the club with me, so everything became much harder.
When I went off sick with anxiety and depression in January 2018, the school suspended him from attending the club completely. They started to say it wasn’t suitable for him and eventually he was excluded permanently. That meant I had to find alternative childcare otherwise I was going to have to leave my job. I couldn’t find anything, and it made my anxiety even worse. Eventually, I had to accept that I couldn’t keep my job under those circumstances. I was stuck in a vicious circle, and I couldn’t calm my anxiety down enough to be declared “fit for work” and I reluctantly handed in my notice, becoming my son’s full-time carer instead.
It was an awful time for me. Despite proving my son had additional needs, I was no closer to knowing what was actually wrong with him. I had loved my job at the school, and I missed the children I’d looked after terribly. I felt as though everything I’d fought so hard to achieve had been for nothing.
Despite all my progress with Gary in counseling, my depression reappeared and so did the suicidal thoughts. That made me feel even worse because now I felt like I’d failed him too.
The next part of my story is something I’ve not spoken about in-depth to anyone.
It was now June 2018, and that was when I began to make plans to leave the world. I had no intention of seeing in 2019. I’d completely given up and I felt there was nothing left for me to live for.
You may remember me mentioning earlier that the reason I came across my book manuscripts in Dropbox after so many years was because I was looking for my Life Insurance policy. I was trying to find it to check whether the pay-out would be made if I committed suicide. I wanted to leave my children something. Once I knew it was good, I planned to get my will rewritten with all my final wishes updated. But I paused when I spotted the files for the books and instead, I clicked open The Wayfarer’s Journey and began to read it.
There he was; my Jack, living his life in the world I’d created. I remembered just how much I loved his story. I stayed up all night reading it, and I reread the Child of Light the day after.
I decided I must give these stories to my children before I died. They were the greatest thing I’d ever done, and the legacy I truly wanted to leave behind.
Low and behold, a few days later I found an advert for a self-publishing company. I clicked on the link and got the leaflet for more information. I didn’t have the time or confidence to consider traditionally publishing, but the idea that I might be able to self-publish and get the manuscripts turned into proper books before I died delighted me.
Everything seemed to fall into place. I had a conversation with a lovely lady from the company, and she talked me through all the packages.
I knew I wanted some type of editing help, which made the package I needed more expensive. It was then I thought I would have to forget about the idea because I had also decided if I was doing this, I needed both manuscripts done, so the original story was complete.
Again, Lady Luck smiled down on me. I was offered a Buy One Get One Free deal and an affordable monthly payment plan. If I went ahead the nice lady I had spoken to would become my publishing consultant, so she would be with me every step of the way.
If I was motivated, I could get the manuscripts polished, edited, and published before 2019, fulfilling both my childhood dream and my final wishes. It was perfect! I signed the publishing contract at the end of June.
I worked hard making The Wayfarer’s Journey as good as it could be, and after it was professionally edited, I realized I had a lot of work to do to get, The Child of Light, up to scratch.
It soon became clear I couldn’t get both manuscripts ready before the end of the year. If I wanted to see the Child of Light published before I died, I’d have to hang on a bit longer.
I was all right with that idea because I was loving working on the books again.
As I moved through the publishing stages with The Wayfarer’s Journey, I found myself joining Twitter and making new friends in the writing community.
My middle daughter became really involved in the process with me, she became my beta reader and we had a lot of fun together.
My friends showed a real interest in what I was doing. When I began to share parts of the story, and show off the front cover, everyone got really excited about it.
The Wayfarer’s Journey went on sale on 17 November 2018 and I sold my first copy within 5 minutes!
My friends and family rushed out and brought it, and my Twitter family did too. The praise I received was overwhelming.
I was invited to go and do a talk at a carers event. Two shops offered to sell my book for me, and I got really focused on doing marketing. I had intended to get these books published to put on my bookshelf for my kids to remember me by, but suddenly a whole host of other people wanted them too. It was amazing!
I took my time with The Child of Light and made it even better. It was finally completed and published on 16 August 2019.
I received my first copy and I put it onto my bookshelf next to The Wayfarer’s Journey. For a moment I just stood there staring at them.
I’d done it. I had become A. R. Pearson, published author. Jack’s journey was now out there for the world to discover. It was what I wanted to achieve before I died. It was the legacy I planned to leave behind. It was in that moment of silent reflection I realized I no longer had any desire to commit suicide. My writing journey had made those dark thoughts disappear completely. Just like before, when I was suffering kidney failure back in 2000, Jack has helped me fight my way through. I realize now he will always be here helping me.
Now, I have so much to live for. I have at least four more books for Jack’s world to write, and ideas for other stories in different genres that I wouldn’t mind having a go at. I have a page on my website supporting other authors, I’m beta reading a novel for my best pal, Peter James Martin, and I have a shelf full of indie author books, created by my talented Twitter friends, that I want to get read and reviewed.
I have begun to sell my poetry books and I give all the profits to charity. I’m going to be writing more poems and making new books so I can support even more causes. Helping fellow carers and others who suffer from mental health problems is my top priority.
My children will have my books to remember me by, but I now hope to leave them a whole bookcase full. When I do leave this world, it won’t be by my own hands. It might be by my children’s when they realize I have a life insurance policy! Or perhaps they will hang on until I become super famous and worth loads of money! After all, I’ve already proved dreams can come true!
Thank you for reading.
A. R. Pearson
(I would just like to add a small piece of advice before I go. Whatever route you choose to publish, take the time to research it thoroughly. Some companies that provide publishing are not always what they seem. I’m very grateful to my company for their hard work and support. Every publisher wants to make money. Just make sure you know all your rights and never enter into any agreement you can’t afford.)