All Things That Matter Press have released the cover for my new novel, Apples for the Wild Stallion. This book was written after my daughter, Sonja Bingen, one day remarked to me, while she was starting to read the first Harry Potter book to Joey, our non-verbal autistic grandson, I have really searched for a book that had a character Joey can relate to in his life, but have had trouble finding any. This cover was done by my ATTMP editor, Deb Harris, who based it on a photograph Sonja did on Joey and a brown mare who resembles Brownie, one of the horses, the one Joey rides, in the novel. The novel is set in the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico on Wrangler Road where Ethel, when lived in Continental Divide, did her daily walk with our dogs. The wild, white stallion of the novel’s title changes Joey’s life, but he returns the favor to the stallion in the story.
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Ethel and I were at my daughter Sonja’s house. She, Ethel, and Joey, our non-verbal autistic grandson, were sitting in the living room talking about the difficulty Sonja was having dealing with Joey’s new high school. Then, looking wistful, Sonja said something to the effect that she had been looking for books that Joey could relate to where the hero was like him. She’d only been able to find one book that sort of was like that, she told Ethel and I. Looking at him, with him paying attention to what she was saying, she said that you’re smart enough to learn, aren’t you Joey.
Afterward I got to thinking about what Sonja was saying. A little after that I sat down to start a novel about a non-verbal autistic boy who is a hero. The writing did not go well at first. The first chapter, reviewed for me by Sonja and Emma MacKenzie, a writer friend, was pretty bad. But, as usual, I kept at it. Ethel kept encouraging me. The result was a novel, Apples for the Wild Stallion. Ethel gave me the title name.
Yesterday All Things That Matter Press sent me a publishing contract for Apples for the Wild Stallion. It always takes awhile between signing the contract and actual publication, but I’ll be especially happy to see this particular novel in print.
The truth is that human beings all have different abilities and gifts. Humans are so good at discrimination, as the events in Minneapolis right now so painfully illustrate, but the truth is that Joey is a marvelous human being. When he smiles Ethel and I feel like the sun is coming out after days of rain. He is worth paying attention to and loving. He is a hero, like so many of the people who face terrible discrimination in their lives. He deserves praise, not the looks he and his family get when they go to a restaurant, and his arm goes up or his head shakes in a way that makes some of those eating in that place uncomfortable.
So, this novel is for Joey, and, in a sense, for all of those like Joey who have lives that are important in spite of the small ideas in other people’s heads.