Friday, July 8, 2016

Blog Tour: Learning to Stutter

Welcome to my tour stop of "Learning to Stutter" by Sherm Davis, presented by Elite Book Tours.
To follow the full tour, please visit here.

Kenneth Kocher seems to have it all - a good heart, a sense of humor, decent looks, and lots of money. What he doesn't have is something most of us take for granted - freedom of speech. Kenneth lives with a severe stutter which has wreaked havoc with his life since childhood.

After much embarrassment, pain and soul-searching, Kenneth realizes that to free his inner self he must accept the fact that he cannot be cured, and that he must learn to stutter with grace. Along the way he meets another stutterer and a young widow who are both dealing with the stumbling blocks in their own lives.

Using an experimental syntax to portray the neurological component of the syndrome, the novel gives the reader a unique view of stuttering from the inside out.


What books have most influenced your life?
As a child, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster really rocked my world. It showed me the outer limits of what a book could be, what it could do to an impressionable brain.

Which writers inspire you?
Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K Dick have consistently been my favorite authors, and I hav gotten into historical fiction as well, especially Gore Vidal.

What is the book about?
In a nutshell, the book is about overcoming obstacles, but this book is very specifically about the slippery syndrome of stuttering. 5000 years of medical research is still inconclusive, and this book takes a look at stuttering from the inside out as a neurological syndrome rather than a speech impediment. There are two characters who stutter in the book, and each handles his issues in different ways. This is intentional, as there is no catch-all cure for stuttering, and every person who stutters needs to deal with it in a different way.

What genre is your book?
I call it self-help fiction, because there is supposed to be a simple inspirational message – just keep moving forward.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
My own experiences as a person who stutters formed the basis of the book. I have been able to communicate effectively in spite of, or perhaps because of, my stuttering. But others are not so lucky. This book was written more for fluent people who have a loved one that stutters but have no idea how to deal with the elephant in the room.

What was your favorite chapter or part to write and why?
My favorite part was, ironically, not related to stuttering at all. It was related to cheating. The third main character, Ilene, is a widow who is staying at her sister’s house in Vermont. She is cooking and accidentally burns the kitchen down. Her sister Jen calls her husband Greg, but he is nowhere to be found, and this confirms all her suspicions and sends her marriage into a downward spiral. This entire scene was “unpremeditated.” I was writing the scene expecting Ilene to cook breakfast and all of a sudden there were flames everywhere.

What character stays with you the most now that the writing is done? And why?
I think Kenneth Kocher, the main character, stays with me most because he stutters exactly like I do, and I took a lot of time and effort to invent a lexicon of symbols to accurately describe his stuttering, and therefore my own.

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
To keep on keeping on – to never stop moving forward no matter what the obstacles.

How do you develop your plots and characters?
My characters are usually an amalgam of people I know, including parts of myself. I try not to overwork my plots – I prefer to zone in on the characters and let them develop personalities and make decisions organically. If the characters ring true, the reader is more likely to follow their progress and the story will be more believable.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The hardest part of writing the book was figuring out the ending. You invest so much time in the characters and the story, and then you’ve got to bring it all home convincingly. Some people read the ending and the want more, but I don’t think life always gives you neat and clean endings, and I’d rather leave a little to the reader’s imagination.

When did you decide to become a writer?
It wasn’t a decision, it was an imperative!

Why do you write?
Because I have to. There is a backlog of stories and experiences inside me that I need to reorganize and give to the world. I write fiction rather than nonfiction because I always try to scrape at the universal, the transcendent

Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Usually a computer. I used to do more longhand journaling, but the technology is too easy these days.

How did you feel after writing the last page of the book?
Triumphant, but humble. I knew it was a huge accomplishment, and then again I knew that it was only my first book, and that no one had ever read it!

What are your future project(s)?

I have just released a bilingual collection of short stories in English and Spanish. Click on this link to find The Hair Collector and Other Stories.

Thank you Sherm for taking the time to answer my questions. Your responses have provided an even deeper insight into your world.


David Howard Sherman Davis is a writer, musician and international educator who has taught in five countries on four continents. Born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, he currently lives by Lake Atitl├ín in Guatemala. His journalism and fiction have appeared in the United States, Canada, Guatemala, and online. 

Welcome everyone. If you are new to the blog and don't know me, I am Daniel Steeves Connaughton, author of Imora and Keeper of the Bones.

I am writing my next book, A Tale of Two Heroes, and you can help! Don't worry it will be really easy. All you have to do is "Read and Vote" on the piece of writing as I get them done to decide how the story evolves to the next piece.

We started on June 26, 2016, but it's not too late to join in. Every other week I send out a piece from my novel in progress, A Tale of Two Heroes. You read the piece and vote on what happens next. Keep up with each piece of writing as they are released to make sure you get a say in how the story unfolds. Join us here.

Any questions or feedback, just hit {Reply} to the bi-weekly email or leave a comment.

Until next time... *Watch out for the... !*
Daniel Steeves Connaughton