OAKLEY — While most memoirs are written when one is older in life and has experienced decades of challenges or joys, one local writer decided to get started on her memoir early in life — at age 15.
Meet Alivia Jones, a 10th-grade student at Byron’s Vista Oaks Charter School who recently published her first book, entitled “Breathe: An Anxiety Memoir.” How the book came about wasn’t exactly her idea.
“I had no intention to write this book,” said Jones, who was born in Walnut Creek, raised in Amador County’s Camanche Village and now resides in Oakley. “It was actually my mom’s idea. She said I should write a memoir about what it’s like for me to live with anxiety and depression disorders every day.”
It took her about eight months to complete the book, but there was more to it than that.
“I started the first draft in February 2020 and finished it in late May (2020), but after that, it took me about a month to revise it myself,” she said. “Following that, my sister and a family friend edited it, and that took until early September. Almost immediately after, I found my publisher — and everything just went uphill from there!”
Finding the time to write and edit was easy during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders.
“Honestly, the pandemic helped me, because it gave me more free time at home to work on my book,” she said.
Released through Amazon on April 10, 2021 — pleasantly her mother, Krystal Emery’s, birthday — Jones hopes her book will motivate and encourage others.
“My hope is that my readers will be inspired to keep going even though life seems hopeless,” said Jones. “I just want people to get their hands on my book so they can see that they’re not alone with their feelings. So to anyone dealing with anxiety or depression, know that you can overcome it with time.”
Breathing is the one word that sums up her memoir.
“Alivia Jones provides you with an up-close and personal account of her journey of living with anxiety, depression and Asperger’s,” her book description reads. “Not only is she candid about her moments of difficulty, but also she provides you with several firsthand accounts of those who have experienced the journey with her. Alivia provides tips on how to conquer moments when you or someone you love may become riddled with anxiety — as well as hope, so that you too, can BREATHE!”
Her mother could not be more proud of her daughter’s new book.
“I am very proud of Alivia. It was a very trying process for her as she processed through all the emotions as she went back through some of the hard times in her journey battling parts of autism and anxiety,” said Emery.
Adding, “It’s very hard to be a mom of a child battling special and emotional needs because, as this book ends for its readers, this is our daily life. All the chapters Alivia included still play out in some way. Watching the struggles, having to push her through them and often not having the answers or ways to fix it is extremely hard and heartbreaking.”
Jones, who wants to study medicine in college, already has plans to write more books, one of which will be a sequel to her first book, but for now it’s all about taking notes.
“I’m going to wait a few years so I have more stories to share through it,” she said. “I would also love to write a few fiction books with time, maybe even a comic book since one of my hobbies is to draw!”
A regular thrift store shopper, Jones finds inspiration from other book authors.
“I have two favorite authors: Robin Jones Gunn; I’m a huge fan of her ‘Christy Miller’ series. The second is Ann M. Martin, the author of ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’ series” I’ve collected over 100 of the original ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ novels over the years from thrift stores. I have so many I can’t even fit them all on my bookshelf.”
College preparatory English and publications teacher Paula King at Vista Oaks Charter School finds inspiration with Jones’ book.
“She’s such an articulate and brave young lady. When I read her book, I could relate to her experiences as someone who deals with anxiety myself,” said King, adding that “Her book offers so many valuable tips for the many people who also live with anxiety. It’s very comforting and inspiring to read. With more and more people experiencing anxiety right now, Alivia’s story is so meaningful, especially among her peers.”
Jones gives advice to would-be writers.
“If you want to write a book, just go for it! Keep your inspiration close, find something that motivates you to write and once you do, write often,” she said.
She also sees the importance in reading how-to books on writing and finding books by authors who write in one’s own genre.
“Stay consistent in writing. Write every day, even if it’s just a page or two. Remember to give yourself time and take breaks in between every chapter or two. Don’t write everything at once, take your time — you can do it, if you believe you can do it,” Jones says of her own experience.
Emery hopes her daughter’s book will help others struggling with anxiety.
“This book is the real, raw life of a kid battling anxiety and depression and relatable to any kid struggling with the life of special needs or mental illness,” says Jones’ mom Emery. “It also touches on bullies and the reality of what their words can do to another. Suicide is a real pandemic in our world today. I think it’s not only good for some kids struggling in the same way but for kids who might not understand the life these kids battle.”
Readers can purchase Jones’ book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.