The night before September 19, 2013, I had to keep my daughter up all night long for a stressful medical test in the morning. Little Inara suffers from epilepsy, blindness, and developmental delay, and she was scheduled for an EEG–a test designed to trigger a seizure in a controlled setting so that doctors can watch the electrical activity along her scalp and do their best to determine what on earth is going on.
As you can see, she wasn’t thrilled with the idea.
So she and I talked it over, and we decided that rather than just endure, we were going to rock that night. With books.
Because when you have to stay up all night, nothing rocks harder than books. And coffee.
I had decided I would fly solo on this one. My wife suffers from chronic pain and I knew a night without sleep would wreck her pretty badly, especially as the following day would be a demanding one. Recognizing that all-nighters are not easy as they were in college, my wonderful wife cooked me a sinfully good dinner, shared a scented bath with me, and prepared a music mix for Inara and me to enjoy together. There is something to be said for having your loved one gird you for battle. I love her deeply.
Come 10 p.m., I sent Jessica to bed and sat down with baby Inara, a kindle, a stack of books, and a toy tyrannosaur, which Inara mauled.
Some of the time I spent reading scenes from my own novels to her, like What Our Eyes Have Witnessed. Just not the ultra-violent-mayhem parts, because as dads go, I’m old-fashioned that way. My daughter listened, fascinated and (thankfully) awake, as Father Polycarp walked out there among the ravenous dead, casual as a Sunday stroller, on a mission to give them rest:
We also read the first four or five chapters of The Silmarillion (see below). I think that might be Inara’s favorite book in the world. She is mostly blind, but she enjoys touching the pages and hearing my voice.
Melkor’s attempted takeover of Middle-Earth gave her fits of giggles. Melkor may think he is mighty enough to own creation, but my one-year-old girl finds that absolutely hilarious. In all of her baby wisdom, she clearly knows something Melkor doesn’t. (By the way, if you have tried to read The Silmarillion but found it less riveting than my daughter and I do, you need to read this hilarious paraphrase entitled “The Jam Session That Created the Universe.”)
Finally, in our pre-dawn desperation, we watched the “Father’s Day” episode of Doctor Who together. And let me tell you, “Father’s Day” is a tearjerker. Especially when you’re a father. Who has been up all night. With his baby daughter.
All night, as Inara and I fought off the well-meaning gods of sleep, I posted photos and videos to Facebook, and I have to admit, I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of kind comments, well-wishing, and just the sheer good from my friends and community and from my fans. I always knew that writing novels was something I needed to do to survive. What I could never have anticipated is the way that I would meet such an amazing group of fans and fellow bookworms, who would rally not only around the books but around my family. I am profoundly grateful.
The royalties from the novels patch holes in my household budget (and I can vouch for the fact that medical bills will riddle your budget with holes like almost nothing else). But hearing from all of you … that patches something in my spirit. Inara and I thank you all.
You can read more of the story of Inara in Lives of Unstoppable Hope.
Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!