FEATURED AUTHOR: JENNY Q
ABOUT THE BOOKIn January of 2014, the village’s beloved herbalist fell dramatically ill. The shock of this event brings the community of Joshua Tree together, each member using their own form of wit, practical magic and spiritual wisdom, in a desperate effort and race against time to save the life of their beloved Jenny Q.
A close-knit desert community takes center stage in this unique book. A woven compilation of letters, prose and poems tell the story of the power of love to overcome adversity, death, coma and amputation.
While the words of her community tell the story from an outside perspective, Jenny Q’s own insightful writings provide a fascinating window into a range of rare experiences–from the worlds encountered inside a coma, to being ravaged by sepsis, the absolute alteration of losing one’s legs, the subtle venom of PTSD, and the nightmare of opiate withdrawal.
Though Held Together ruthlessly explores dark and fearful places, it is also a celebration of the human will and the power of love.
Title: Held Together
Author: Jenny Q
Genre: Narrative nonfiction
Publish date: June 1, 2018
Page count: 500
INTERVIEW WITH JENNY Q
Jenny, how long have you been writing and how did you start?
I have been writing most of my life.
What inspired you to write this book?
Right after I got home from the hospital, many people asked me to write a book about this event. While I loved the idea, I was still so sick, it seemed like an impossible feat. I had a couple of close friends, and my wife, as cheerleaders that gave me the courage. I asked my community for their stories, and as they came in, I felt my life get patched back together, being gifted memories I had no access to, as I was so far gone into coma, pain, and painkillers for much of a year.
How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me three years to write this book, but there was a lot of time when I was too sick to give it much time.
What do you hope readers will get from Held Together?
I really want to reach out to other disabled/alter-abled folks and others struggling to get off their reliance on opioids and other addictive substances. When I came home from the hospital, I felt so lonely. I felt like the only disabled person in the world. I am not saying that I intellectually thought that, but emotionally felt that way.
Also, I wanted to tell the whole story, the down-and-dirty, painful journey and the gifts received. So much wisdom was gained. But mostly, I wanted to speak of the love from my family and community. That love kept me alive and kept those that love me sane. It really is a miraculous tale of how we weave our own story, and my community did just that. They refused to let me die, they willed me alive with their love and prayers.
How did you come up with the title?
My wife thought it up! Well, really, there was much discussion and meditation surrounding that. For a while, I thought about calling it Yoga on Stilts, as I spent much time in asanas meditating on how my whole life had become what felt like a balancing act. But this book is written by and about a community that holds each other together emotionally and physically.
Do you have a day job?
I am an herbalist and own an apothecary, called Grateful Desert in Joshua Tree.
I am a mom and homeschool my beautiful twelve-year-old daughter, and I am the wife of a miraculous and gifted singer and songwriter, Myshkin Warbler.
How would you describe your book in a tweet?
Love letters & intimate revelations tell the true story of a Joshua Tree community and a mother’s battle to overcome death, coma, and amputation, for love.
How did you come up with your cover art?
My dear friend Georganne Deen is a renowned artist who lives in Joshua Tree. When I was still in the hospital, she heard a story about me asking for a scotch on the rocks right after emerging from a coma. She painted this idea and sold it to Danny Elfman in a benefit to financially support my family while I was away.
I commissioned her to paint my first vacuum prostheses with symbols that relate to my life.
I’ve done my best to find the beauty in this very difficult experience. I feel like this is well illustrated by these prosthesis, which are such a hardships to wear but are beautiful.
The beauty of her art combined with the reality of an amputee was a powerful combination for the cover of this book. These painted legs illustrate the beauty and hardship that is my life.
What was your favorite childhood book?
Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. That book really shaped my life. I still live by science embedded in magical beliefs.
What book are you currently reading and in what format?
I hadn’t had a chance to read a novel in so long! I have been so entrenched in writing this book that all my free time was spent on my own work. That being said, I just picked up a book by Sue Grafton. I love her series, a good who-done-it that is not too gory. Plus, you can’t help but fall in love with her characters.
Do you have a routine for writing?
My life is so full: parenting, family, community, people coming and going through our home much of the day. So it is no wonder that I get up at 4:30 in the morning to have quiet, uninterrupted time. I make myself an espresso and get out my journal. Much of my book comes from these pages.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
Where would your dream office be?
Well, in truth, I would have a few of them. One of the perks, and curses, of having traveled is dreaming of many places. I would have an office in Scotland, in Hawaii, in Tuscany, and of course right where I am, in Joshua Tree.
If you had a swear jar, would it be full?
Unfortunately, yes. My poor daughter . . .
Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
I think almost everyone I know would call me an extrovert, though I have introvert tendencies. I like the word my friend Sue used the other day . . . ambivert. I am definitely that.
What's your favorite treat for movie night?
Popcorn with curry and nutritional yeast.
What is the most daring thing you've done?
Chose to live.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Losing limbs and extremities has forced me to find alternative ways to do things. I love to crochet and knit. I just picked up embroidery. And I have always been a music devotee. After I lost my legs and many fingers, I picked up the cello and fell in love with my new instrument.
Do you sweat the small stuff?
Perspective is a beautiful thing. I didn’t work this hard to survive to be sad and frustrated all the time.
How long is your to-do list?
Don’t even get me started.
READ AN EXCERPT
Onethe meeting (excerpt from Held Together by Jenny Q)
foggy times.. not much of reality to grasp a hold of.. in and out.. people around me..
doctor after doctor after doctor..
confusion, pain, hallucinations, fear..
starting to recognize people around me.. the nurses, the doctors..
watching nurses do their jobs, taking vitals, administering meds, dressing wounds,
looking for pulses..
there is to be a meeting.. it is talked about..
i remember it because it was mentioned over and over..
the meeting, everyone will be there, a big deal..
a party almost.. this is not correct, i know, but they are talking about it with such anticipation and preparing me for it as though there will be cake and candles..
everyone will come! all your doctors and nurses and family!
let’s clean you up and prepare you!
everyone is there.. they are all around me.. in a wide arch around the room, squeezed in because there are endless surgical teams.. colorectal, wound, infectious disease.. what else? social workers? my sister joyce is there, and my brothers johnny and jimmy, mom, dad and myshkin..
as a matter of fact, it does feel like a party: doctors sitting on stools, people perched on my bed.. everyone talking and looking at me..
it is long and i drift in and out.. they are talking about my health, speaking of my progresses and declines.. i sleep a little, i think..
then sharp focus to doctor bernal.. she is talking about my legs.. they are not getting better..
they will need to be amputated..
everyone is looking at me.. holding their breath it seems, and staring..
i know i need to hold them up, let them know i can do this..
i somehow know that this is my job...
so i let out a deep breath and say confidently, “let’s do it!” and start to cry..
everyone in the room is crying..
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
began in her teens while on the road following the Grateful Dead. After exploring many heart
homes, she set her roots in Joshua Tree, California, where she opened Grateful Desert, the
Joyously sharing her life with her tight-knit desert community, Jenny lives with her
beloveds~ Yazzy, her daughter and Myshkin, her wife.
Connect with Jenny:
Website | Blog | Facebook
Buy the book:
Coming in June!