Joey Mullaney is just twenty-five years old, but he’s amassed a lifetime of wisdom from his experience with Friedreich’s ataxia, a rare degenerative neuromuscular disorder that diminishes coordination, mobility, speech, and organ function.
His forthcoming memoir shares his up-and-down journey from diagnosis, to acceptance, to his determination to “partner with time” and live a rich, meaningful, and inspiring life.
What prompted you to write your memoir, especially at such a young age?
I began thinking about writing a book after I graduated high school. The first eighteen years of my life were filled with both triumphs and failures (as I explain in detail in the book). At the time, writing a book was only an idea and not something I thought of pursuing. My next step was attending college. My outlook on my future changed during my final semester of college, when I was twenty-two. I went on a five-day trip with a select group of peers to the World Summit of Noble Peace Laureates in Bogotà, Colombia. There, I saw and heard from many amazing people who have gone against the status quo to do the right thing and have prospered ever since. At that time, when I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life after college, I aspired to be like them and knew it was time to write my story.
Which books and writers inspired your storytelling?
Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw. Shane has spinal muscular atrophy and is confined to his wheelchair as I am to my motorized scooter. His witty humor and positivity when writing motivated me.
As a first-time author, what challenges have you faced in writing your book? How have you overcome them?
The first major challenge was, and still is, learning about the book industry. I have never been involved in this industry, so many things are foreign to me, like a book proposal, a query letter, and more. Also, the process of writing in extensive detail when telling a story was challenging at first, but I’m glad I learned how to do it. Patience and learning from your mistakes are important.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Two things: First, believe in yourself; and second, remember that good things will come if you work hard and remain patient.
It took me four years to get a publishing deal. Even when things were not always going well, and I began to doubt if the book would ever get published, I kept believing.
What’s the primary takeaway you hope readers learn from your story and your experiences?
My goal is to have readers face many different emotions as they read: smile, cry, laugh, be proud, be afraid, show frustration, etc. To be able to have many different emotions after reading or seeing something is remarkable to me. Then when the reader is finished, I hope they are motivated and know that even when life deals them a bad hand, they can get through the times of failure and/or pain as long as they stay positive and look on the bright side.