Author Ingrid Ricks says blinding eye disease pushed her to pursue book writing dream, help teens write and publish their stories
SEATTLE, June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story, a self-published memoir about a feisty teenage girl who escapes her abusive Mormon stepfather and the suffocating religion and poverty at home by joining her dad on the road as a tool-selling vagabond, has hit the New York Times eBook bestseller list.
The memoir, which Booklist calls a “resounding reminder of the power plays tied to religion,” has served as a catalyst to help Seattle area high school students find their voice and power by writing and publishing their stories. Working in partnership with English teacher Marjie Bowker, Ricks has used Hippie Boy to help students publish two story collections: We Are Absolutely Not Okay and You’ve Got It All Wrong.
Ricks, who lives in Seattle with her husband and two daughters, says it was her diagnosis with the blinding eye disease Retinitis Pigmentosa that made her realize the importance of making every moment count.
“Nine years ago, I walked into an eye doctor’s expecting to walk out with a cute pair of red cat-eye frames, only to learn I suffered from an incurable eye disease and was already legally blind,” explains Ricks. “A month after receiving that devastating news, I had the opportunity to travel to South Africa with a relief organization to write about children orphaned by AIDS. For years I had dreamed of writing Hippie Boy and making it as an author. I always made excuses and told myself it wasn’t the responsible thing to do. But somewhere between my fading eyesight and that trip to South Africa, it occurred to me that life is short and the time go after my dreams is NOW.”
Since publishing Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story in the fall of 2011, Ricks has published two more memoirs, A Little Book of Mormon (and Not So Mormon) Stories and Focus, a memoir about her journey with Retinitis Pigmentosa. She’s now working on Determined to See, a memoir about her current yearlong quest to heal her eyesight. She was recently awarded a 4Culture grant to support that book project, and is blogging about her journey at www.determinedtosee.com.
Ricks says making the New York Times bestseller list was one of her goals for Hippie Boy. Her next goal? Get Hippie Boy made into a film.
“So many people have big dreams but don’t give themselves permission to go after them—either because they don’t think it’s the responsible thing to do, or because they are afraid of failure,” notes Ricks. “But what I’ve learned is that when you really go after your dreams and give them everything you’ve got, the Universe has a way of making them happen.”