Author Interview – Polio and Me by Ken Dalton

The year is 1943. A five-year-old boy wakes up. He cannot stand or hold an apple in his hand. The boy is rushed to his family doctor, diagnosed with polio, and taken from his mother’s arms to the contagion ward at the county hospital.

Thus begins his eleven-year journey of surgeries, rehabilitation, and therapy so that one day, he can walk, unaided, across a stage and receive his high school diploma.

While the boy struggles through his childhood, and in spite decades of research, polio epidemics continue to paralyze and kill hundreds of thousands of adults and children well into the late 1950’s.

Polio and Me provide the heartbreaking story of polio’s devastating past, the struggle to overcome present, and promising future.


About the Author

Ken Dalton was born in Los Angeles in 1938. In 1943 he contracted polio and spent the next eleven years of his childhood in and out of hospitals.

He is married to his childhood sweetheart and is a father of three, a grandfather of four, and great-grandfather of nine.

After a successful thirty-eight year management career with Pacific Telephone Company, Ken retired to write golf and travel articles for Golf Digest, Golf Illustrated, Fairways and Greens, and Golf.com. During two NBC-TV Celebrity Golf Tournaments at Lake Tahoe, he interviewed Olympic Decathlon Champion, Bruce Jenner when he was Bruce, not Caitlyn, the mischievous Chicago Bears quarterback, Jim McMahon, the iconic Vice-President Dan Quail, and NBC Today show anchor, Matt Lauer.

Ken designed, built, and operated a 2000 case winery named Pommeraie Vineyards where he produced award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

He has published six mystery novels, The Bloody BirthrightThe Big ShowstopperDeath is a Cabernet, The Tartan Shroud, Brother Can You Spare A Dime, and The Unsavory Critic.

Ken’s memoir, Polio and Me, marks his initial foray into the world of non-fiction.

Presently, Ken is working on his seventh Pinky and Bear mystery, The Heretic’s Hymnal.

www.kendalton.com

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KenDaltonMysteryWriter

On Amazon: http://amzn.to/2qx47JK

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2q7GTs2


Author Interview 

What inspired you to write Polio and Me?

The book was more of an obligation than an inspiration. Unexpected questions from two of my grandchildren provided me with the courage I needed to write Polio and Me.

The first question came from my ten-year-old grandson, Dale, who asked me what I had wanted to be when I was his age. It was an innocent question from a child who, at that moment, was contemplating a career as an astronaut, a fireman, or perhaps a cowboy. But Dale’s query shook me to my core as I realized that I did not have an answer. Why? Because as a child who grew up with polio, I had never allowed myself to think about my future other than this single goal: To walk with a normal gait.

Dale’s question was a catalyst that forced me to realize that I had managed to hide my childhood memories behind a carefully self-constructed mental brick wall, a barrier that allowed me to move on with my life and forget the eleven years of painful trauma with polio.

But even after Dale asked his question I still could not bring myself to face the frightening reality of my polio years. I backed away from that mental wall once again, but, my grandson’s question had created cracks in the wall and tiny glimpses of my dreadful polio experiences began to seep through. Over the next two decades I knew that trying to chronicle my polio experiences could help me to heal, but each time I began to write, I pulled back into the safety of the present.

 

Twenty-three years passed before the second question picked me up and threw me against that wall so hard that I could not avoid it. My youngest granddaughter, Noel, phoned. After a cheerful hello, she asked, “Grandpa, do you think my children should be vaccinated?”

How long did it take you to write your book?

Much longer than any of the novels I had previously written. Once I decided to write Polio and Me, a decision that took more than twenty years, I spent a couple of years trying to figure out the format, or style, I would use. I knew that I did not want to write a “woe is me” tome, so after at least a dozen attempts, I settled on my story, along with the history of polio, the virus, and the chronicle of developing the vaccine.

To put a time frame on the total project, I would say at least five years.

How long have you been publishing your work?

My first published magazine article, Scotland’s Secret Golf Treasures, was published in Golf Illustrated Magazine in August of 1996. I published golf and travel articles during the next eleven years.

My published novels:

The Bloody Birthright, 2009

The Big Show Stopper, 2010

Death is a Cabernet, 2011

The Tartan Shroud, 2012

Brother, can you spare a dime? 2014

The Unsavory Critic, 2016

What does your writing environment look like?

I have my office on the second floor of my home. Inside my office I have a desk, a laptop, and a window on my left that overlooks the garden below. Before I write a word, I stream music from Radio Swiss Classic, or play music from my own classical playlist so I have Beethoven, or Mozart, or something in the background at all times.

During the summer months I have been known to pick up my laptop and move to my back deck where I sit at my patio table and write.

Also, when the inspiration hits, I will write while waiting in an airport, riding a train, or a boat on a river, as I seem to be able to shut out most distractions.

Do you have any routines to help you write?

I write four to five days a week and find it is easier to have an office where I can go and be left alone. Many days I will sit down to write in the morning and the next thing I will hear is my wife’s voice telling me that dinner is ready. Or, after tapping a keyboard for five to six hours, I will realize that it is my turn to cook dinner, so I will put the laptop to sleep and head downstairs to the kitchen.

One other crazy thought concerning routines. Many times, when I go to bed, I find it difficult to shut off my brain. That used to bother me, but now, if I cannot go to sleep, or I wake up after a couple of hours, I get up and write.

 

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