Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad
1. Tell us about your latest book.
Besides the many bizarre and strange stories about the situations I managed to get my friends into, Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad is about my 45 years living as a quadriplegic after a severe spinal cord injury at the age of 17. The book is serious, humorous, informational and, many say, inspirational. I take the reader behind the scenes as I describe what it physically and emotionally feels like to be quadriplegic, and navigating my way through rehab, school (I have two masters degrees), living independently, dating, marriage, my professional career, and retirement.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I was pressured to do so by many of my friends who told me I should write down many of the crazy situations I got them into over the years. As a very active quadriplegic who never learned his limitations, I frequently manage to get my friends into weird situations that an able-bodied person could not even comprehend. Hence the title of my book: Another fine mess you’ve gotten us into.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
When not traveling around the country in my 32’ RV (which is more than half the year), I am enjoying my model electric train hobby at home and the many great restaurants in the Chicago and Milwaukee area, where many of the stories in the book took place.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
My workspace is a bit unusual. I do all my computer work and writing from my bed while I’m lying on my back. There is a computer screen mounted and positioned above me. I use a voice-recognition software package called Dragon NaturallySpeaking to talk to my computer and have it perform anything that can be done by a keyboard or mouse. As a retired computer professional I am able to create my own NaturallySpeaking commands to accommodate any software I install on my computer.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
J.R.R. Tolkien (Author): Lord of the Rings
Frank Herbert (Author): Dune
Orson Scott Card (Author): Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon
David Eddings (Author): The Belgariad Series
Robert Jordan (Author): Wheel of Time Series
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
1. My buddy and I once went to a boat show just to see what was there. By the time we left, we owned a 28-foot pontoon boat and leased a slip on a local chain of lakes. The only hitch was that when we both got home we would have to tell our respective wives what we had done. Needless to say, we will never be doing that again without their consultation. We did manage to keep the boat, but never heard the end of it.
2. After a year or so of watching others pilot the 28-foot pontoon boat, I decided it was time for me to try, even though I do not have the use of my hands or legs. As I steered the boat with one wrist and controlled the throttle with the other wrist, my body lurched forward, shoving the throttle to maximum speed. As the boat shot forward uncontrollably and swung into the marsh I found myself and my wheelchair lying on the floor of the boat, which was now landlocked 15 feet into the marsh. When we finally got the boat back into the water seven hours later, and with a lot of help from others, I decided that from that day forward I should probably let others pilot the boat.
3. While I was laid up for awhile due to medical reasons, a friend of mine convinced my wife and I that it would probably be a nice hobby to have a small model train layout while I was recuperating. We decided to build a small 3×6-foot layout and each of us purchase one steam engine and one diesel engine along with a few freight cars and a few passenger cars. Unfortunately, this little hobby became an obsession, which resulted in turning my office into a massive train layout with an inventory of more than 250 train engines and thousands of freight and passenger cars. Currently the layouts have taken over three rooms of our house and the entire patio. My wife is cursing the day my friend talked us into this new endeavor.
7. Favorite quote
“God does not roll dice.” Albert Einstein
I believe Einstein’s actual quote was, “God does not play dice with the universe.”
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
The best part of being a writer is that I leave a legacy of some part of myself in the world after I am gone. Having no children to carry on my family name this is of greater importance than one might think. Because this book is an autobiography of sorts it also lets my audience know that a person named Robert Prondzinski lived and enjoyed life to the fullest.
The worst part of being a writer is that, as you all know, it can be a slow process for a book to reach a broad audience. This is extremely discouraging for me because I feel this book can help people who are afflicted with a serious injury, as well as their families and loved ones. However, the feedback I get from others who have read this book does express how it helped them cope and provided hope for their futures.
9. Advice for other writers
I have found that writing down many of my experiences was very cathartic in its own right. No matter who you are or what you are writing about just keep writing. Every word, sentence, or idea you write down is a creation from your mind and is something that is uniquely part of you. You create the stories and ideas that others will remember throughout their lives. To create something tangible from pure/conscious thought is remarkable. No other species living on this planet can do so.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
As mentioned above, I felt pressured into writing this book. I thought that writing down a couple of the crazy stories I told at gatherings with my friends would put their harebrained thoughts about my writing a book to rest once and for all. Little did I know that, after the first two stories, they would ask for more. Two stories turned into 27. Then the 27 stories needed some “before and after” context so, by the time I was done, I had pretty much written a 272-page autobiography. I guess I hoisted myself onto my own petard, but now I would not trade that experience for the world. Life is stranger than fiction.
Where can people buy your book? Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into: The Life and Adventures of a Quad is available in select bookstores, on Amazon and from my www.FineMessAdventure.com website, where you can download free sample chapters.