Why write a story for and about adults with a learning disability?

amy, jack brenda and garyWhen Amy met Gary in town recently, she was surprised at how much he’d changed. It wasn’t just that he was older but there was something else about him that was very different. When they met up, Amy found out that Gary lived in the same street as her and Gary told Amy more about his friend Jack. Amy couldn’t wait to tell her best friend Brenda all about Gary and the group he goes to called Stronger Voices.

This is the story of four adults with a learning disability and although fictional it’s based on the lives, and experiences of people I have worked with and know well.

Why aren’t there are actors with a learning disability on T.V.? Why don’t shows like Coronation Street or Eastenders have adults with a learning disability in them?  These were just some of the questions some of the people in the group I  was working with asked me one evening.

I agreed with them that there should be more actors with a learning disability on television, films and on the stage and continued to think about this on the way home that night. I thought that if I could find a novel which related the lives of people with a learning disability, we could discuss some of the issues the stories raised.

The night after our conversation, I began my search certain that there would be plenty of great books out there written for adults with a learning disability. A quick search led me to a number of books written for children and adults with autism, Asperger syndrome and physical disabilities but nothing for adults with a learning disability. Surprisingly, after many months of searching, I still couldn’t find a single novel that was written specifically for and about adults a learning disability.

My frustration at not being able to find the book I wanted spurred me on until one day during a long search on the internet, an idea for a novel started to develop. The four main characters, Amy, Jack, Gary and Brenda who all live in Magnolia Street began to take shape and I started to plot out the story.

As I started to write, the characters although fictional, seemed very real to me and their stories interspersed with moments of humour add a realistic tone to the book. I decided to include questions at the end of each chapter to encourage the reader to reflect on the story and discuss some of the issues the characters face.  There are also colourful illustrations throughout the book which is written in a style that is easy to read.

When Amy met Gary is the first book in the Magnolia Street series and early on I decided that the only way to get this book out there was to When_Amy_Met_Gary__Karren_Murray_Book_Coverself-publish. You can now buy this novel either through my website or direct from York Publishing Services.  Although this is a book written primarily for and about young people and adults with a learning disability it is a book that can be read and enjoyed by anyone.

I want this blog to be a place where I can include short stories about the four main characters and focus on specific issues.   What would you or someone you know like to read about in the Tales from Magnolia Street blog?  I welcome any comments and ideas for future stories, you can comment via this blog or my website


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