Gloucestershire writer Janey H Bailey will publish her first book this week to coincide with Young Carers Awareness Day (January 26) – appropriate because the heroine of her story is a young carer.
‘Lookin Out for Leroy’ is the story of a young boy with autism and a unique talent for mimicking the sounds around him but his story is told through the eyes of his 14-year-old sister Tia. This young adult novel tells of Tia’s frustrations linked to the limits her brother’s challenging behaviour places on the life of her family but also the joy that she gleans from having such a special brother. It is a story that will resonate with many families in the county as they journey through the experiences of the delightful duo.
The life of a young carer and all that it entails is an ambitious subject for Janey, a former hospital-based renal consultant, but one she has thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing.
She says: “I have never been a young carer but I saw the impact of caring for someone on the many family members who came into our department with their loved ones. They would tell me, in a matter of fact way, how they had not slept for days on end. I could see the worry written across their faces.”
Janey was inspired to write the novel after seeing a TV advert for a programme about a child with autism which threw light on the child’s extreme sensitivity to every day sounds around them.
She said: “I have also always had an interest in particularly gifted children and those with savant tendencies. I worked with such children for a time at the Sara Rowe Centre for children with special needs in Hong Kong where I grew up. I then began to explore their link with music and came up with Leroy’s character – a child who could imitate any sound and who then began to replicate them using pots and pans and eventually steel drums. That naturally led me into the world of a Caribbean family. I have always loved the Caribbean culture, dialogue and music and I have tried to portray this in an accurate and sensitive way.”
Janey realised quickly that the story would have to be from Tia’s point of view so created an appealing teenage girl, protective and loving to her brother but who, in turn attracts love from those around her with a surprising outcome.
In researching support for Tia in the story, Janey came across the concept of young carers’ respite centres and support groups. “I also became aware of Gloucestershire Young Carers – a local charity that supports young carers like Tia and so I decided to donate a percentage of the book’s sales to the work that the charity does. It seemed appropriate.”
Janey’s book will be available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon’s self-publishing platform KDP.