Thursday, 22 January 2015

Chris Six, author of "I, Kidney"

Today I'd like to welcome Chris Six, author of  "I, Kidney" to the Thursday interview. 
Before we get started, a quick intro!

As a kid growing up in New York, I was always in some stage of writing, even if it was only the making-stuff-up stage. I grew up with long-ago tales of authors strolling into a publisher's office, wowing them with a manuscript, closing the deal over a pricey lunch, and becoming a celebrity--imagine my surprise finding out that it doesn't work like that now, and it hardly ever happened then! After gathering a large enough stack of rejections, I went back to making stuff up, but when I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease, I returned to writing. I wrote I, Kidney to empower people with chronic kidney disease, educate the public, and raise the awareness of health care providers, who can easily lose sight of the patients. I meant to get the book out in 2013, but my transplant put that on hold...until now.

OK - HERE WE GO !!  

1) Would you break the law to save a loved one? Why?

This is an excellent question to begin with since families with serious medical issues face this every day. What if a loved one has a life-threatening illness? This might involve dicey ways of getting money for treatment. What if the disease is terminal? One might be obtaining banned substances to relieve pain and suffering. What about euthanasia if it's hopeless? Break the law to save a loved one? Absolutely.

2) What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Participation is the key: the phrase being alive sounds passive, while truly living requires more involvement. What are you--a distinct, distinctive person--adding to your life to truly live it? It doesn't have to involve traveling or bucket-list adventures. A person can live a very inner life, creating, being mindful, quietly doing with/for others, and still be truly living. Everybody interacts differently with the environment they're given.

3) What motivates you to write?

When I was a kid, the act of writing inspired me to write. The world was writing--novels, plays, songs--and I knew I had to be involved. More recently, my having polycystic kidney disease motivated me to write--when I was first diagnosed, I batted out a novel with an enigmatic narrator because I needed a distraction from having this scary medical condition. Once I was on dialysis, I was determined to write about my condition because even though plenty of people have kidney disease, it's below the radar--far below. Currently, I've just started working with a collaborator on an action story--two things I've never done before--inspired by a stray remark I made while watching football on TV. You might say my motivation is situational.

4) Why do humans want children?

Look at other animals for the clues: watch dogs and cats nurture pups and kittens. Watch a father penguin hold his egg. Watch elephants pat their young with their trunks, and so on. Our species shares the same instincts.

5) What was the biggest challenge in creating your book?

The challenge of I, Kidney mirrored the challenges of having PKD: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment of the disease, treatment by health care personnel. A million details: which ones will make the most sense to the story, to the readers?

6) What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?

I have to narrow it down to one? There are no dispensable or disposable people. We all have a story. To quote Janis Joplin, there's a fire inside of every one of us. To quote John Lennon, we all shine on.

7) How did you come up with your title "I, Kidney" ?

One morning I woke up with the idea that I needed to write this book and that people needed to read it. The title came directly out of the idea: I, Kidney, like I, Robot, I, Tina, I, Claudius. The event was so organic that I don't recall whether it was a treatment day or not, just that it was winter and the sun wasn't up yet.

8) How do you handle personal criticism?

In stages--I holler out loud, I fume in private, I catch my breath and figure out what the criticism was about, and then I'm fine. Unless I out the incident in a story, which means I'm still fuming.

9) Why should people read your book?

Different reasons for different readers. The general public will be interested because it's a family-falls-apart-and-copes story full of medical and mental health issues. Kidney patients and their families will see many of their concerns validated. Health care professionals will understand the patient's viewpoint better--if my case is any indication, too many of them need a refresher course in that kind of understanding

10) Why is there something rather than nothing?

We're all out there generating different kinds of something. It's not limited to human beings, either. Birds do it, bees do it, cats, bats. It's the brain: I think, therefore there is something. If it were simply land and the ocean, we wouldn't quite have it.

 Thanks Chris for taking the time to answer my questions 
& the best of luck with your new book! 

Check out  "I, Kidney" on

Joe's childhood in the '50s had everything a kid could want--pro athlete dad, wonderful mom, cool big bro. With the '60s, this ideal life is violently shaken: a car crash claims his mother's life and his father's career, and brother Matt becomes distant and disturbed. Joe learns to cope and carves out a niche for himself as a college sports star, and later as a coach and writer, but he can't quite shake the family legacy. Diagnosed with kidney failure, he has life-and-death decisions to make--and life wins, though perhaps only by a slim margin.


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