Grayling graduate releases another inspiring novel
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
A Grayling High School graduate recently released another books aimed at inspiring readers to live their lives to the fullest.
Deborah Reed, who writes under the pen name D.A. Reed, released her latest novel “Dancing With Shadows.”
A 1997 Grayling High School graduate, Reed is the daughter of Marge and Karl Schreiner. She now lives in Rockford, with her husband, Matthew, and children Emma, age 6, and Eli, age 5.
While “Dancing With Shadows” is a work of fiction, the main character, Olivia Karsen, is based on Reed’s neighbor and babysitter, Madeline Konsdorf.
Konsdorf was diagnosed with Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), which is a disorder that can lead to easy or excessive bruising and bleeding.
Konsdorf planted the seed for “Dancing With Shadows” after “Reading Daises in Rain,” a book Reed released in 2015. The theme for both books are similar, with teens dealing with major diseases while facing the normal trials and tribulations that life presents at their age.
Reed was unaware that Konsdorf battled ITP, which is treated with chemotherapy.
“She never complained. She was never upset by it,” Reed said. “She just had a love for life, and I wanted to portray that in the book.”
At one point during her treatment, Konsdorf and her family were alerted that her blood platelet levels were dangerously low, forcing them to return home from a dance competition Florida. Even a scratch could have put in her in grave danger.
“She did have that scare,” Reed said.
In the book, Olivia is worried about relationships with a boyfriend and friends. After being diagnosed with the blood disorder, Olivia is overcome by fear and her uncertain future.
While transitioning to treatment and stays in the hospital, Olivia meets new people in The Pole Barn, an area where people of all ages receive chemotherapy testaments.
Michael, who has bone cancer and Olivia recalls as a pest riding a skateboard at a football games, becomes a friend and helps her deal with the day-to-bay battles of fighting a disease. Michael’s mother, who is battling lung cancer in the hospital, serves as a mentor to Olivia. And Ella, a 5-year-old with leukemia, brings joy to Olivia’s life as she teaches the youngster ballet dancing.
“It’s sometimes true to life,” Reed said. “We’re thrown together with people who we wouldn’t ordinarily be with, and we can find good things in our relationships when we’re not expecting it.”
Reed said she pushed to draw on Ella’s character from stories she has heard from the St. Jude’s Research Hospital and what those children can teach readers of all ages.
“Having a 6-year-old and a 5-year-old, it really just hits close to home,” Reed said. “It doesn’t matter how long or how short you have – live life with a passion so it inspires other to live with passion.”
During her initial stays in the hospital, Oliva receives a cold shoulder from her friend and boyfriend, who she breaks up with after a visit to her hospital bed. The story also deals with bullying, especially through social media, when girls at school knock Olivia’s hat off to reveal a loss of hair and take a picture and post it on Instagram.
Reed said she was not popular at school and was teased.
“I know what that feels like, and I don’t wish that on anybody,” Reed said.
The story also draws on a conversation Reed had with Konsdorf’s father, explaining how the blood disorder caused fear and impacted the entire family.
“That’s honestly something he told me, almost word for word about what it felt like,” Reed said.
Reed has been writing stories since she was a youngster. She developed her own style from advice and input from other writers, and from books that sparked her interest.
Reed served as an instructor last year for Author Quest, a writer’s camp organized by Christopher Wright, a 1982 Grayling High School graduate. He writes under the pseudonyms Johnathan Rand and Christopher Knight.
Reed will teach at Author Quest this August, and was part of the North of 45 Retreat held for writers earlier this year.
In October, Reed will be a presenter at a writer’s conference for the Kent District Library.
Reed said she is overjoyed by passing her talent for putting words and sentences together to aspiring writers.
“I love it,” she said. “I have honestly found that sharing my love of writing with others and helping them with it, it’s just a great gift for me to be able to share it.”
“Dancing With Shadows” is available at Tip’n the Mitten and Flo’s Hallmark in Grayling, and through www.Amazon.com.