How Sheffield knife campaigner's dyslexia helped him write a book for people with reading difficulties
The most pivotal test results I have ever received were in my foundation year at university: a diagnosis of dyslexia.
All of a sudden, my failed attempt at school and college made sense. I knew what the problem was, I just needed to find the solution as I was destined to fail university if I continued to learn the same way that had failed me previously.
For the next few months, I read most books on dyslexia and watched hundreds of hours’ worth of videos on Youtube. Reading a book itself was something I found extremely difficult. Even now I have to gear myself up for weeks to pick up a book and read it and then, I still may not do it.
After reading the first book on dyslexia. I knew that I wanted to write a book to prove to myself that this disability could not stop me from doing something, that on paper would suggest that I could not.
Due to my work around serious youth violence I work with a lot of families as they have either lost a loved one or are extremely concerned about their future. It still hits me hard when a family member is talking about a loved one that has passed. The words ‘I didn’t think it could happen to me’ send shivers down my spine. I had all these stories, all the pain, all the grief piled up within, I felt a sense of guilt keeping them to myself so I thought a book would engage people to read it. rather than going through it.
In my fight against serious youth violence I believe education is key, so a book fitted in nicely, not only to spread awareness not only of knife crime but domestic abuse, mental health and substance misuse.
One Knife Many Lives captures the hard-hitting story of those who feel the devastating impact of knife crime. Through personal experience and engagement with victims, it gives you an insight into the challenges that many young people face depicting the brutal realities, while highlighting depression, domestic abuse and suicide. Although this book is fictional, the dangers of knife crime are very real.
The unforgiving wrath of knife crime can strike anyone: early warning signs presented within this book should ring alarm bells for when proactive action is required
Sean, a promising 17-year-old aerospace student, becomes increasingly concerned by regular news reports of fatal stabbings in his community. Things become too close to home when a friend is subjected to a horrific knife attack. In a desperate attempt to shake a future fuelled by fear, Sean decides to take life into his own hands by protecting himself.
Witnessing an unprovoked attack, Sean intervenes just in the nick of time. A knife is used and lives are torn apart. However, embedded deep in the heartache, remorse and grief, there is a glimmer of hope.
Writing the book wasn’t even the start of the hard work, I wanted to ensure that that the reader’s experience was thought about from when they picked up my book, until they put it down.
I knew the cover needed to be bold and eye catching. A dark grey background with burnt orange text, I worked with Raheem Currie to accomplish this.
Each chapter has an illustration drawn by Dean Roagan. I put them in there to give the reader something visual to look at and allow them to try and predict the chapter.
On fonts I ran a questionnaire to see which were best for people with reading difficulties. Once decided I asked people with no difficulties and they said it did not make a difference.
Books have a certain texture, smell and taste. When deciding what material of pages, I wanted I opted for glossy paper as it promotes a good and engaging read. I wanted the book to be quite heavy, as weight often represents values.
Finally, to stop the book from slipping out of the reader’s hand, the front cover has a rubbery texture. When I sell one, I often see the buyer stroking it as they talk to me.
The book is available at www.AlwaysAnAlternative.org.uk.
All profits go to Always An Alternative, towards its mobile youth club project.