Cover of The Birth of Super Crip Visit the home page of The Birth of Super Crip to read Chapter 1
of the novel, find reviews and links to media coverage, and more.

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(Also available on other sites.)

Monday, March 21, 2016


I never thought I would be so anxious to have my voice heard.

If I could change only one thing about my cerebral palsy, it would be the affect it has on my speech. Many people find it difficult to understand what I say upon first meeting me. When I was mainstreamed as a student beginning in eighth grade, I dreaded the thought of being called on in class or having to speak to a teacher. My employment search after college was constantly thwarted by employers scared off by my speech. The possibility of meeting a woman is dampened for the same reason. Even if someone understands the initial “Hey, how are ya?” the doubts, questions, and, depending on the situation, even fears, can often be seen in their eyes. The realization that people were likely to respond to me in that manner has only made me more reluctant to speak at times, especially in uncomfortable situations when my own nervousness makes my speech worse.

My love of writing began long before I started to realize how much my speech problem—and believe me, it’s a problem—would affect my life. But the frequent frustration to express myself verbally has certainly enhanced my relationship with writing. The freedom of sitting down in front of my keyboard and expressing myself without hesitation, doubt, or anxiety, about the clarity of my words is one of the greatest joys of my life.

But writers write to be read. The irony of that reality for me is that in order to be read, we have to “spread the word” about our work. It’s a task that has been filling my days since I recently published my first novel, The Birth of Super Crip. And as much as I’d like to think I can accomplish my task through e-mails, Facebook posts, and tweets, I was recently confronted with the reality that it takes much more. For a little more irony, the realization came when one of my e-mails paid off.

I sent out an e-mail with a link to an article about the novel that appeared in the local paper. Jon Marks of 97.5 FM, a sports talk station in Philadelphia, just happened to be in my contacts because every now and then I e-mail him about sports. He replied almost instantly, offering to do a podcast with me about the book.  


I’d done a few interviews in my life, but always with newspaper writers, meaning my voice wasn’t being heard as part of the interview. I had even produced a couple YouTube videos of me speaking about my first book, but at least people could see me. They had something more to go on than just my speech. Besides, I created closed captions for the videos as a safety net, and I was as relaxed as I could be knowing I could retry the video over and over to get the best version of these not-so-silky-smooth vocal tones of mine recorded.

But a podcast? With nothing but my speech to represent myself?

Every fear of speaking suddenly clashed with my need, my desire, to promote the heck out of the novel I spent about two years working on.

And I choked.

I postponed the interview.

Soon, though, I started kicking myself. Here was a guy in radio giving me a chance to get some exposure for my book, and I hesitated.

Why couldn’t I just do it? Why couldn’t I just talk? Just speak!

Then the holidays hit, other things filled the Marks’ schedule, and we weren’t able to reschedule the interview right away.

So, I took a chance and created a “video podcast” of myself talking about the novel. It might be a little long, and it’s certainly got a homemade feel to it. But I hoped it would let more people know about the book. I knew it would put my speech front and center. I didn’t even create my own closed captions—no safety net this time.

The more I thought about having posted the video, the more I felt like it said something about my own acceptance of my speech problem. It’s not that I’ve hidden my speech in the past. But maybe it’s time to really say, this is it. This is my speech. It is what it is, as former Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manual used to say.

Even better, I eventually rescheduled the interview with Marks. Talking to Jon was very comfortable because I could tell right away that he was comfortable talking to me. And, when we were momentarily on different pages, Jon was willing to listen, and truly understand both my speech and my message. I’m realizing that giving an interview is a skill all its own, and I have a lot to learn, especially about giving recorded interviews. I wish I had been more direct with some of my answers. But for a “first swing” at an audio interview, I’ll take it and be glad for Jon’s expertise as he reigned me in. The interview was a confidence-boosting experience, and I’m hoping it will be a nice lift for the book as well.

I’ll always be a writer at heart, but I have to say it was pretty cool to be heard—literally.

This article was also published on the Huffington Post Impact section.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Reaction to the The Birth Super Crip

Here’s a taste of what people are saying about The Birth of Super Crip:
“It is a great, really great story. . . . I love the narrative. I think [Rob] did a great job with the language and with the characterization. I like Red enormously, and I very much like his brother and his mother. And the doctor, who is also a great character. The storyline advances in ways that are very engaging.” --Maxwell King, President and CEO of the Pittsburgh Foundation, former Editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer

“[The novel] will help young readers more readily appreciate and accept classmates and others with disabilities.” --PA Senator Thomas McGarrigle

Reviews from Amazon customers:

“Great story with lots of twists and turns and a very unique main character. It allows the reader to see things from the perspective of a person with a disability, but to realize [that] perspective is also one of a human being with many abilities! As an added bonus, Rob Quinn has an amazing talent for writing dialogue. I especially loved the banter between Red and his brother. Overall, this is an exciting, page-turning story with a great deal of insight!”

“Quinn’s attention to detail is excellent . . . I found myself visualizing exactly what he was describing in Red’s movements from my own knowledge of CP. Red’s feelings about his disability . . . are spot on . . . I think this book needs the attention of both audiences: disabled and non-disabled. And, most certainly, teachers.”
(Read the whole review.)

“The novel is funny, suspenseful, and well-written, and the characters are richly drawn. Young teenagers and adults too will enjoy.”

“Loved it! I recommend it for young people—for fun and to increase their empathy. Would be a great aid in teaching about bullying, too.”
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