Disability History Month

We are currently in the middle of UK Disability History Month, an annual event that runs from 22nd November to 22nd December. Now in their third year, the theme for 2012 is “Changing Lives, Changing Times, Challenging the Ideas that Lead to Hate Crime”. In the UK, the popularity of the Paralympic Games in the summer really highlighted the change in people’s attitudes towards people with disabilities, but we are yet to see whether this has had any lasting legacy across the country.

In her inspiring book, WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND, Jessica Thom writes eloquently and honestly about living with Tourettes Syndrome. From how it affects her daily life, to the reactions her tics provoke from strangers (positive and, unfortunately, negative) this enlightening book provides a new insight into living with a disability. Or, as Jess sees it, living.

This is a book that has already touched a lot of people – a quick skim of the reviews on Amazon shows that. 17 reviews, of which 16 are five-star, and the other is a 4-star, and common words include ‘inspiring’, ‘amazing’ and ‘brilliant’. WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND is the perfect book to recommend for Disability History Month, because it’s already out there, changing people’s ideas about Tourettes, about living with disability.

Want to know more? Take a look.

Welcome to Biscuit Land

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The Road to Biscuit Land

This week we have a very special guest post on Take Home a Souvenir. Jessica Thom is the author of the acclaimed ‘Welcome to Biscuit Land’. Published last month to rave reviews, it is Jessica’s first book, based on her blog Touretteshero. The book features a foreword by Stephen Fry, who met Jessica when she appeared on his television show Fry’s Planet Word in 2011.

I have Tourettes Syndrome, which means I make movements and noises I can’t control. These are known as tics and my most prominent verbal tic is “Biscuit,’ a word I say involuntarily hundreds of times an hour.

Having Tourettes means only a small percentage of the words I say communicate what I’m thinking. Writing Welcome to Biscuit Land helped me to find a voice enriched by tics but not interrupted by them. It offered me something unique; a way of sharing my life without all the “Biscuits.”

Tourettes is a condition shrouded in myths and stereotypes. Most people in the UK have heard of it but very few have any clear understanding of what it really is. To help change this, three years ago I founded Touretteshero with my friend Matthew Pountney. Our aim is to challenge the misconceptions about Tourettes and share the humour and creativity that can arise from it with the widest possible audience.

Writing a daily blog about living with Tourettes has become a key part of my life, and it’s this blog that forms the basis of my book, Welcome to Biscuit Land – A Year in the Life of Touretteshero, which was published by Souvenir Press this autumn.

The journey to publication was full of memorable moments. Here are some of them:

Nervously climbing the stairs for our first meeting with Ernest Hecht at Great Russell Street

My surprise and joy at opening the email containing Stephen Fry’s wonderful, perfectly pitched, foreword to the book

My sudden sense of responsibility when I signed the contract

The light changing slowly outside my window as the hours passed putting the book together

Patiently drawing and re-drawing each illustration until I had a set that hadn’t been ruined by my sudden arm movements

The wave of relief as I sent off the final manuscript

The strange mix of exhaustion and satisfaction after our twelve-hour round trip to Devon for the front cover photo shoot

Nervously opening the padded envelope containing the proof copy

Sitting opposite Jane Garvey in the BBC Woman’s Hour studio explaining the tangible difference that people’s increased understanding of Tourettes makes to my life

The pleasure of seeing all my friends, family and supporters at our biscuit-fuelled launch party while I gave a tic-enhanced thank-you speech

The significance of signing a copy of Welcome to Biscuit Land for an eleven-year-old boy whose tics have been making his life very tough recently

Touretteshero has changed the way I view my tics and my experiences. I hope the book will give many other people the chance to share my unusual perspective as well. While not much can be done to prevent the physical effects of the condition, everyone can help to reduce its social impact.

I’d like Welcome to Biscuit Land to play a part in changing attitudes towards Tourettes and help me fulfil my mission to change the world, “One tic at a time.”

Welcome (Back) To Biscuit Land!

At the end of last month we saw our book WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND featured in The Daily Mail (read our blog post about it) in a fantastic two-page spread prior to publication.

The book has now been featured in The Observer yesterday (Sunday 14th) – this time it was given four pages in the magazine, but if you missed it you can read the extract online here. The book is out now, and you can find it in most Waterstones stores, as well as online – Amazon, The Book Depository, and in e-book format for Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, Sony and more.

To celebrate the publication of WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND, author Jessica Thom held a launch party on Friday evening, which was a roaring success. The book has also been reviewed in Ham & High:

“It was a joy and an eye-opener then, to read Jessica Thom’s new book, ‘Welcome to Biscuit Land’.”

With rave reviews also coming in from customers on Amazon (at time of posting there are five reviews on the site – all five stars), it is clear that WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND is touching the hearts of everyone who reads it.

You can also like the book on Facebook, and read an interview that Jessica did with Disability Now. Welcome to Biscuit Land, everybody!

Welcome to Biscuit Land!

Published at the start of next month, WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND by Jessica Thom is one of Souvenir Press’s big titles for this autumn. Jessica has Tourettes Syndrome, and the book follows a year in her life and all the ups and downs that go with it.

The book was featured in a huge double-page spread in yesterday’s Daily Mail, and the extract also appeared on their website (linked) – and that’s just for starters. No doubt you will be hearing much more from Jessica in the weeks to come. WELCOME TO BISCUIT LAND is published at the start of next month, but you can pre-order it now from Amazon at the discounted price of £7.00 (RRP £12.00).

One of this year’s most unusual stories, the book  features a glowing foreword from Stephen Fry, who met Jessica when she appeared on his television show, Stephen Fry’s Planet Word.

Jessica’s words are courageous and optimistic in the face of the major challenges she faces every day. Moving, entertaining and unique, but never anything short of inspiring.