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IRDA Winning Author Jason Fisher: “The best part of being an indie author is collaborating with wonderful people in the indie space – publishing, marketing, editing, and other areas.” 

To Where You Are was the winner in the Aging/Death & Dying category of the 2023 IndieReader Discovery Awards, where undiscovered talent meets people with the power to make a difference.

Following find an interview with author Jason Fisher.

What is the name of the book and when was it published? 

The name of the book is To Where You Are. It was published on Valentine’s Day – February 14, 2022.

What’s the book’s first line? 

“Babe!” Mandi’s scream echoed through the house, piercing through the quiet June morning.

What’s the book about? Give us the “pitch.” 

When I met my wife, Mandi, I instinctively knew she was “the one.” Her gregarious laugh.  Her charisma and humor. Her emotional intelligence that allowed me to be so comfortable that I learned how to give and receive the unconditional love that defined who she was as a person simply by being around her. After nearly a decade of dating, engagement, and marriage, tragedy took her from this world at just 30 years old. Suddenly, I was a single father of a 2-year-old daughter with special needs, trying to find my way in a world where every day felt like the day she died.

Learning how to rebuild my life after such a profound loss was not easy. There were setbacks as well as triumphs. I navigate the reader through the ups and downs of my journey; from the best of times with my wife to the worst days I’ve had thus far walking through this world without her. Following years of contemplating the significance of my loss, I ultimately found the best version of happiness within myself simply by embracing all the wonderful memories and characteristics I was gifted with by loving Mandi.

What inspired you to write the book? A particular person? An event?

I simply had to tell my story to heal properly from my grief. For years, I lived with such vivid memories of our many years together as well as the aftermath of that horrible day.  For my daughter, to honor my wife, and most critically for my own mental health, I had to share what I learned through the trials and tribulations that followed her passing.

Mandi was the most selfless and charismatic person I have ever met. I knew almost instantly that she was “the one.” Growing our relationship over nearly two years of long-distance dating was challenging at times, but it made the foundation of our partnership rock solid. At 30 years old, I finally found what I had always sought – unconditional love.

After nearly six years of marriage, I lost Mandi tragically to an unforeseen sudden illness. We had one child at that point in time, Mackenzie, who has a rare chromosomal disorder. Just 2 years old when Mandi passed, Kenzie really didn’t understand all that was happening. But I certainly did. At that moment, I was faced with grieving the death of my soulmate, raising our physically and cognitively challenged daughter largely by myself, and navigating a personal heartache that made the single parenting process profoundly difficult.

What’s the most distinctive thing about the main character? Who-real or fictional-would you say the character reminds you of?

Perspective is incredibility important for living a balanced, healthy life. Yet the main way that one gains perspective is by experiencing the extremes – the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. In my case, the perspective of great love and traumatic loss gave me the direction I needed to raise our disabled daughter as a single parent while still grieving the loss of my soulmate. It also provided me with a sense of purpose to uncover old passions that laid dormant under my coat of grief and release the hesitation I had about chasing my dreams without my wife by my side.

I’ve often thought that my life somewhat paralleled the fictional character, Forrest Gump. A seemingly ordinary guy that experiences extraordinary things in his journey, including losing the love of his life so young and becoming a single parent navigating a world he never expected to traverse solo. Ironically, the author of Forrest Gump lived in the same small Alabama town (Fairhope) where Kenzie and I reside. In the shared narrative, there are chance encounters with famous people, a shared passion for running, and the very real experience of being a part of society that remains somewhat closed to people with disabilities.

What’s the main reason someone should really read this book? 

Finding perspective and meaning in life during difficult events can be challenging. Yes, the book is based on the sad event of losing somebody special so early in her life. But the story and lessons learned go well beyond the grief. There are many funny moments. Many triumphs. But I had to learn how to live again; how to navigate a new world with a heavy heart and piece together the resources needed to give both me and my daughter the best life possible. I also had to let go of the guilt I faced, deserved or not. That hidden emotion caused me great pain and challenge for many years following her death.

Those who read this book not only will understand what a truly special human being my wife was, but they will hopefully find meaning they can transfer to their own lives from my unique emotional journey. Readers can hopefully understand from my story how they may be able to overcome their own challenges, whether it be grief, heartache, depression, or other emotional obstacles.

If they made your book into a movie, who would you like to see play the main character(s)?

Matt Damon would be my choice to play me. Terrific actor that I think would bring out the reflective version of me in the book. As for the other characters, I would need to watch the casting to see who best fits the roles. The role of Mandi would be interesting to see who might be able to channel her character from my descriptions of her personality in the book.

When did you first decide to become an author? 

I made the decision in 2016 to write the book but struggled with the memories initially brought up during the writing process.  Ultimately, I reopened the project in 2020, finished in 2021, and published in 2022.

Is this the first book you’ve written? 

I co-authored an industry publication for higher education fundraising in 2008. However, I consider To Where You Are my first book, largely because of the nature of the content and the overall process of publication.

What do you do for work when you’re not writing? 

I enjoy reading, spending time with my daughter, finding new challenges to keep me growing intellectually, and doing my best to stay healthy and fit.

How much time do you generally spend on your writing? 

I write every day in some fashion or form.  Sometimes it’s a business or marketing piece. Other times it may be a piece of personal reflection that nobody sees. But I’m always attempting to refine how best to articulate my thoughts and tell the stories that dwell inside me.

What’s the best and the hardest part of being an indie? 

The best part of being an indie author is collaborating with wonderful people in the indie space – publishing, marketing, editing, and other areas.  There are fantastic professionals in this industry! The hardest part of being an indie author is knowing that you have a great story and well-written book, but sometimes may struggle to find ways for your book to be stand out amongst so many other great authors.

Would you go traditional if a publisher came calling?  If so, why?

Yes – mainly because I could potentially reach a wider audience with my story. That said, because it was such a personal labor of love to write, I would be hesitant to give create control to anyone else.

Is there something in particular that motivates you (fame? fortune?) 

Fame and fortune were never primary motivating factors in writing my book (though if it happened, I would not be upset). I was primarily focused on telling my story so that I could personally heal from the grief, tell the world about my wife and why she was such an amazing soul, and leave behind a book for my developmentally delayed daughter in the event that she someday could understand more about her mother.

Which writer, living or dead, do you most admire?

I personally enjoyed Barack Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. I believe it was a thoughtful, deeply reflective narrative of his journey to that point in his life. It was extremely captivating and descriptive.

Which book do you wish you could have written? 

At this point, I can’t fathom writing anything more personally important than To Where You Are.  However, I do plan to author another book at some point. I’m just waiting for the right subject and a vision of how I wish to tell the story to come to me.

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