Disability Representation Matters: Interview With Jamie Sumner, Author

Photo: Jamie Sumner

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Disability representation matters, and that is why I am so excited to share a new book with you.

If you follow my writing, you are well aware of my passion for advocating for kids with disabilities and special needs. I want to spread the message that all kids with differences should have the same opportunities as their peers, and should be viewed as equal, not less. That is why when my writer friend, Jamie Sumner, announced that she has a new middle grade novel coming out starring a young girl with cerebral palsy, I was ecstatic! I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this ground-breaking book!

*To pre-order a copy on Amazon, you can use my affiliate link here: https://amzn.to/2kCTnbp

Jamie graciously agreed to answer some questions about herself and her upcoming book for me in the interview below. Enjoy!

Photo: Jamie Sumner

Hi Jamie! I’m so excited to have this chance to interview you. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi Mia! I’d love to share a little about my life. I am a mom and a writer and I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my husband and our three kids. I have written for the New York Times and the Washington Post and my debut middle grade novel, ROLL WITH IT, comes out October 1st, 2019 and I’m so excited! I’m also the reviews editor at Literary Mama, so I get to see all the good stuff before it comes out!

How did you get into writing?

I’ve always been a writer. I still remember the story I wrote in fourth grade about an elephant escaping a zoo in India. It was seven pages longer than the requirement and it was so dark! I don’t know where it came from, but I’ve been writing ever since. But before I became a full-time writer, I was a full-time high school English teacher. That helps.

As you know, I also have a child with disabilities. I love reading your work because I can relate to it in so many ways. It is comforting to know I am not alone. Do you feel writing about your parenting experiences has been helpful to you in dealing with challenges along your journey?

Writing about my parenting troubles is the best form of therapy! I think it helps me process the difficulties and also the joys of parenting not just Charlie, my seven-year-old who has cerebral palsy, but also my five-year-old twins as well. Parenting is SUCH a mind game and when I can turn my experiences outward into something that can encourage other parents, it gives it a significance beyond my own tiny world.

Let’s talk more about your new book being released on October 1st – ROLL WITH IT. I am SO excited for this one! Can you tell us what the book is about and why you wanted to write this story?

ROLL WITH IT is the story of Ellie, a twelve-year-old girl with cerebral palsy who wants more than anything to become a famous chef and to earn her independence. She’s feisty and tells it like it is and when she and her mom move to a trailer park in a small town in Oklahoma to help take care of her grandpa who has dementia, chaos ensues. It’s about finding freedom and friendship in the most unexpected places and I hope it encourages kids to look beyond their differences to what we all have in common. There’s also some great baking in there, too.

I wrote the story for my son, Charlie. I want him to have a story that normalizes his experience. There need to be more!

What are your goals for ROLL WITH IT?

It’s an empowering feeling to find community and acceptance just as you are. The world today can feel so isolating. I hope this book brings all different kinds of people of all different interests and abilities together. I want people to see that Ellie is not just her disability. She’s a stellar cook and a mini golf champ and she loves her friends and family fiercely.

Where will ROLL WITH IT be available for purchase?

It will be everywhere books are sold! If you have a favorite independent bookstore, ask them, and they can order it. If you want a personalized copy from me, you can request it from my independent bookstore, Parnassus, and tell them exactly what you want me to write and I will! I love that so much, so even if you’re in Canada, Texas, Massachusetts, you can still get a personalized book! Here’s the link for that: https://www.parnassusbooks.net/rollwithit

Is there anything else you would like my audience to know?

I would love to visit your child’s school! This is the first year that all my children are in school, hooray! (Also, to those holding a screaming toddler right now, I get and I promise your time will come!). So I’m embracing this whole traveling author gig. If you want to know more or share it with your school, you can find all the classroom resources here: https://jamie-sumner.com/classroom-resources/

Oh and I have a fun newsletter! It’s called #READLAUGHLISTEN and you get a favorite book, song, and also a chuckle because I like silly memes. You are welcome to check that out here: https://jamie-sumner.com/readlaughlisten-newsletter/

Photo: Jamie Sumner

Thank you for reading, friends! Don’t forget to share about this amazing book and order your copy now, because REPRESENTATION MATTERS. Help spread the message.

Photo: Jamie Sumner

*Pre-order on Amazon using my affiliate link, here: https://amzn.to/2kCTnbp

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