ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — Elissa Grossell Dickey has been writing professionally for 20 years, first for a newspaper and currently at Northern State University as an editor in the Communications and Marketing Department.
Now the Aberdeen author has opened another chapter in her career: her debut novel.
“The Speed of Light” hit the shelves last month.
“It’s suspenseful, but wrapped in a love story, so there’s happy and sad, scary, but hopeful,” Author Elissa Grossell Dickey said.
Dickey’s book is a popular selection at the K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library.
Assistant Library Director and Community Services Librarian Cara Perrion has read it.
“In the first chapter your heart is just pounding. You’ve got to hurry up and turn the page and turn the page, so that right there I knew the pace was going to be fast. It just really kept your interest, so I just knew she had something really good here,” K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library assistant library director and community services librarian Cara Perrion said.
Grossell Dickey says the story’s main character, Simone, grapples with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis, a new love, and a terrifying workplace incident.
The fiction novel is special to the author.
“In many ways, my main character’s journey mirrors my own with coming to terms with her diagnosis,” Dickey said.
Grossell Dickey’s official MS diagnosis came in late 2013.
“At the time, I struggled with mobility. I started with numbness in one of my feet and it kind of spread. Then there were times I was struggling to walk and they were trying to figure out why and there were MRIs and tests and eventually led to the diagnosis,” Dickey said.
Grossell Dickey says she’s used to living with the illness now, but adds it’s unpredictable.
“It’s different for everyone and you don’t know what you’re going to feel like most days. Lots of days I’m fine, but some days I struggle with fatigue or feeling kind of foggy or heat sensitivity is an issue in the summer,” Dickey said.
Writing “The Speed of Light” has been therapeutic for the author.
She’s heard feedback from others living with chronic illness that the book resonated with them and they felt seen.
“That has been honestly been the best part of this at all,” Dickey said.
But she knows she’s only telling one story, her story.
“MS is individual for everyone who has it, it’s different, and so it couldn’t possibly speak for everyone, so obviously I hope this opens the door for more people with chronic illness to write stories and disabilities to write stories,” Dickey said.
She also hopes readers will take away a message from the book.
“I hope that people will, for one, maybe get a glimpse into what it’s like to live with a chronic illness and develop more empathy in that respect, but definitely I hope that readers will see that people with chronic illness and disability could be the heroes of our own stories and deserve our happily ever afters just as we are,” Dickey said.
“The Speed of Light” is published through Lake Union Publishing.
You can also buy it at several places, including Dacotah Prairie Museum and the NSU Wolfe Shoppe in Aberdeen, Mitzi’s Books in Rapid City, and Sweets ‘N Stories in Oakes, ND.
Market on the Plaza in Aberdeen and DDR Books in Watertown also plan on carrying the book.