Allison's Book Bag

Interview with Carmen Swick

Posted on: October 13, 2012

Carmen Swick is the author of Patch Land Adventures, a series intended to help ease the time for other children who need to use a patch and to let the them know that they could do anything. Swick hopes that ultimately the series will also help educate others about why a child might be wearing an eye patch. She desires to bring awareness to low vision and to stress how important it is for children of a very young age to see a pediatrician eye doctor. She took time to talk with me about her son who has Amblyopia and Strabismu sand about her series that were inspired by him. 

Allison: Your bio indicates that you live in Colorado. One thing I know you like about Colorado is the outdoors. What is a special memory about outdoor activities?

Carmen: Colorado is a beautiful place to live, with so many outdoor activities. We really enjoy camping with the whole family and our dogs. Unfortunately one passed away a couple of months ago. When we go camping we really enjoy dirt biking and 4wheeling. In the evenings we sit around the fire and make smores, great time to bond as a family. We also like to hike around, and enjoy the beauty around us.

Allison: In book one, Preston goes fishing with his grandpa. In your upcoming book, Preston goes to camp. What is your worst fishing or camping story?

Carmen: I would have to say the most memorable and worst camping story has to do with our dog Beau. Beau was sprayed in the face one evening during a camping trip by a skunk. He slept with us in our pop-up camper which is very close quarter that evening, wow was that a though night!  And let me tell you what a long ride home it was the next day with that awful smell.

Allison: What is one memorable moment between mom and son?

Carmen: My son Preston and I have had a few memorable moments, but I have to say going to Millers farm, every fall to pick our own produce, corn, carrots, potato’s etc… It’s such a great bonding time! And we can appreciate where our food comes from. When we get home we clean all the produce and freeze some. That evening we will make dinner and make sure to incorporate some of the vegetables that we had picked earlier that day.

Allison: How does Preston feel about your books?

Carmen: Preston is very proud of me, he might not tell me directly, but his actions let me know that he is. I remember when we walked out of the doctor’s office, after hearing, not such great news. The Dr. had told us he was legally blind in his left eye that broke my heart! When we got into our suv, I put my sunglasses on, looked at him with tears and  I said Preston mommy is going to write a children’s book and it’s going to be called Patch Land. The expression on his face was priceless! He tells his teachers, librarians, friends etc…

Allison: Preston has to wear a patch for his blindness. What was the worst experience Preston had with wearing a patch? What helped him accept it?

Carmen: There have a been a few instances that were very upsetting to him while wearing his eye patch. People, Children, and Adults alike stare at him when he wears his eye patch, because it is different. One day we were at the grocery store and 12 yr. old came up to him and said, what are you a freak! My son’s reaction was to hide behind me. It is still little painful talking about it. I said to the young man, no he is not a freak and let me educate you why he has to wear an eye patch. Preston was very surprised that I didn’t keep walking, but at the same time was very happy and proud that his mother was able to make this young man understand why he patches. Of course some kids would say to him, do you think you are a pirate? So it made difficult for him to want to wear his patch in public. By me writing the series, I am able to educate the public, I go to school and read to the children, and the adults read to their children. Also these books can help the Children during patch time, they can do anything!

Allison: You work with various organizations associated with blindness. What advice would you offer parents and adults about how to support a child with partial or full blindness? What advice would you offer to other young people about how to best help their peers?

Carmen: Learn as much as possible about their eye disease.  There are so many tools now in this time of age that can help. You can start by searching local chapter support groups. These groups can help give you a sense of hope and support! There are many on-line groups you can join. Many share their thoughts and fears on these sites and help ease some anxieties. The one thing I can tell you is never let your loved one feel that they are limited do to certain things, because of their low vision. My son, skate boards, rides a bike, dirt bike, plays basket ball and football. Be their biggest cheerleader, love and support!

Allison: How have you been promoting Patch Land Adventures? What’s next?

Carmen: There are several ways that I am promoting my book, soon to be books. I have my own website where people can order directly from me. I’m also in local book stores, several libraries, Amazon and Barnes and noble .com. You can now order my books from the UK and Australia. I have a blog, and fan page.  I read to schools, and I do several book signings. My books are listed in some mom blogs, and support group blogs, and I have been interviewed by several bloggers.

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