Wednesday, February 23, 2022

NBTM Virtual Tour + #Giveaway: The Light in the Darkness by Jo St Leon @GoddessFish

The Light in the Darkness:

Musings on Living With Cancer

by Jo St Leon

GENRE: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT / Inspiration & Personal Growth


The Light in the Darkness is a must-have companion for anyone living with a serious illness, or caring for a loved one with such an illness.

With this collection of reflections and personal essays, Jo St Leon shares her experiences, her darkest moments and her greatest joys. She tells of the journey from fear and denial to acceptance and a determination to live her best life. She shares her deepest thoughts and feelings, always with her characteristic blend of wry humour and wisdom.

The Light in the Darkness is the book Jo wishes she could have found when she first received her cancer diagnosis.

Buy The Light in the Darkness




Cancer is supposed to change everything—sufferers are supposed to devote their lives to their condition, and thanks to both their illness and their treatment, they are supposed to feel terrible. This has not been my experience at all. Since diagnosis I have felt progressively better apart from one serious, slightly alarming episode. Much of the time I don’t actually feel ill at all. For now, I am contented and have a good quality of life. Friends remind me that in the eleven years before I was diagnosed, I really did suffer—but somehow it feels as though if I could put up with it and carry on working it can’t have been that bad.

Cancer is not a competition, and one person’s experience does not invalidate another’s. What is important is not comparison but sharing discoveries and learning. I have tried in these pages to become a friend to those who are walking a similarly scary path. And cancer is always scary.

Regardless of whether your prognosis is terminal or curable, you will have to carve out a new normal for yourself. Trying to carry on exactly as usual, as I did, masking fear with humour and trivialising the concern of others, is a form of denial. After all, it was some form of the old normal that helped get us into this mess.

Cancer is shit. Always. But it does bring blessings in its shitty wake. If you are reading this book, you likely have cancer yourself or have someone close to you who does. By sharing my path with you, I hope you might occasionally say, ‘Oh yes!’ or ‘Oh, that really is a thing!’ Although my level of well-being is mostly good, I have dealt with all the fears that come with more ‘normal’ cancers—the fears of death, of what will happen if I can’t work, or look after myself, or take care of my cats. These fears are very real and can haunt a person’s waking and sleeping hours. I must remind myself sometimes that Sézary is by no means a fraudulent or insignificant cancer; there will likely be suffering aplenty in my future. My temporary status as a medical miracle does not rob me of my voice.

This is not a How to Overcome Cancer book. There are so many of them out there written by people who are way more knowledgeable than I. I have great faith in my medical professionals, but I don’t leave it all to them. I need to take some responsibility for my own wellbeing. At the outset, I experimented with many things, and I have learned that one person cannot possibly do them all. Self-care is important, but for me it was and is important to maintain some semblance of a quality life as well. Whatever choices I have made in this regard are mine alone. I am not recommending or prescribing them. Everyone’s choices will be different.

Interview with Jo St Leon, author of The Light in the Darkness: Musings on Living with Cancer

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

There are three things. The first is to just keep writing. No matter what—if you don’t think you have anything to write about, or any opinions worth holding, or anything to say that could possibly be of interest—keep writing. It’s useful to build a relationship with a couple of publications that correspond with your areas of interest and expertise, so you know that there’s always someone who will likely want your words. I have two: CutCommon (an online classical music magazine), and Elephant Journal (an online mindful living magazine). It’s fine to start small. Having people who want your work builds a wonderful sense of yourself as a writer.

The second is not to let editors change your voice. Of course, it’s important to listen to them—in general, they really do know their stuff—but the way they word things won’t always be your way. So build a to and fro relationship and make sure you can always feel comfortable with the end result.

Lastly, don’t let it be about the money. You can say, ‘I am a writer’, even if you never earn a penny from your words. Keep writing, submitting, publishing, and see what unfolds.

What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?

That’s a difficult question to answer, because there aren’t enough hours in the day to read everything. I like to try for an even spread: a writers’ magazine (I go for Writers’ Forum, a UK publication), a genre specific one (for me that’s Creative Nonfiction, from USA), and those that I write for, so I can see what other writers are contributing. I also subscribe to a couple of Australian publications that publish substantial essays about issues of the day. That’s really all I have time for, because there are so many books I want to read purely for pleasure.

What is the first book that made you cry?

It’s very hard to remember that far back! Tears spring to my eye for so many reasons—happiness, sadness, vulnerability, nobility…the list is endless. I’m pretty sure I cried at The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe—little Reepicheep, the talking mouse, was so heartrendingly valiant. I definitely cried multiple times over The Incredible Journey; it was also from that book that I acquired my lifelong love of Siamese cats. I loved The Wind in the Willows, but I can’t remember whether I cried. I could go on forever, but I should stop here.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Definitely energise! Writing makes me lose all sense of time—I write through hunger and tiredness because there is always just one more thing to say. I become a super-achiever on writing days. Days when I don’t write not so much—tend to be lazy in every way. I think both sorts of days are necessary.

Do you try to be more original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I think it’s a bit of both. If I don’t come up with something original what I write will be boring, but if I don’t grab a reader’s interest they won’t bother opening the book. It’s very important to me that what I write is a quest for truth, or meaning, or potential answers to the questions that life throws at us. I rather consider myself as Everyman, so if I am authentically invested in what I write, someone, somewhere, will find it of interest.

Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing etc. come from?

There were always books in the house, and no television, so I learned to read when I was about 4. My parents weren’t very hands-on and my sisters were much older, so I was quite a lonely child, and also very shy. Books became my world and my refuge. They transported me from an often unappealing reality to a place filled with fun, adventure, and companionship. They still do that for me, even though I am no longer lonely, shy, or living in an unappealing reality. I love books that create worlds for me to enter. I’m a great lover of crime fiction, but I find the sense of place and community is just as important as the plot. For me, the line between real and fictional characters can become quite blurred. Often, it is a real wrench to reach the end of a book, and to have to leave the community and lifestyle the author has created. For that reason, I love series—they give me the opportunity to jump right back in to a world I have felt a part of.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Jo St Leon is a musician and writer living in Hobart, Tasmania. Receiving a cancer diagnosis in 2016 prompted her to transition from being a full-time musician who loved to write to being a full-time writer who loves to sometimes play the viola. She shares her house with two very pampered felines. She loves reading, cooking, swimming and yoga.

Connect with Jo St. Leon




$15 Amazon/BN GC

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Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Sherry said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

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