Alumna Sara Pyszka publishes first novel
Wright State University Alumna Sara Pyszka recently published “Dancing Daisies,” a coming of age novel about a teenage girl with cerebral palsy who finds new friends at a summer camp.
“Dancing Daisies” centers around 17-year-old Brynn Evason, who, after experiencing a fallout with her best friends, seeks to spend her summer away at camp. Although she is originally met with a cool reception, Brynn finds the friends she’s looking for, one of whom becomes a love interest. Soon, though, their relationship is put to the test when a misunderstanding occurs.
“Dancing Daisies” is available for purchase on Amazon in paperback as well as ebook format.
Pyszka, who graduated from WSU in 2010 with a degree in Rehabilitation Services, said that she based the main character, Brynn, on her own experiences with cerebral palsy. Brynn, much like Pyszka, “is in a wheelchair and uses a communication device,” said Pyszka.
“I can try to deny it all I want,” said Pyszka, “but the main character is based on myself. I think I have a different perspective from anybody else. I want to share that.”
However, Pyszka expressed that she wanted her story to be about “a typical teenager” and thus moved the focus away from Brynn’s experience with cerebral palsy and more toward her relationships.
Angela Bonza, Vocational Support Coordinator for the Office of Disability Services and friend of Pyszka, said that these emotions are universal among those with disabilities and those without.
“All the things that are important to us when we are seventeen are very important to Brynn,” said Bonza. “Friendships, romantic interests, worrying if other people like you. All of those things are such priorities at seventeen and sometimes people don’t understand that people with disabilities have the same feelings and emotions.”
Pyszka said she feels that books and movies about people with disabilities focus on their overcoming of obstacles, which she sometimes finds annoying. She said she wanted to write a book about “somebody with a disability who makes mistakes, and falls in love and is just a typical person.”
English lecturer Kathleen Kollman believes that “Dancing Daisies” could have a positive impact on society’s views on people with disabilities.
“I think any time that you have a positive portrayal of an issue or someone with a disability or someone who is a member of a marginalized population in the media, it starts the conversation and I think that it can make people feel less othered if they are also in that position, or make people feel more accepting,” said Kollman.
When asked to describe Pyszka’s personality, Bonza said that her artistic nature is the most evident.
“She’s a writer,” Bonza said. “You know, that free-spirited, artistic kind of person. She’s always been that way. You know how artists have that kind of aura about them? That’s always been her.”
In addition to writing fiction, Pyszka has also written song lyrics, poems, and “many other things,” according to Bonza.
Pyszka said there were two things she wanted her audience to take away from the book. “The first is that I am able to have a romantic relationship. Yes, my relationships are going to be a little different, but I am able to love just as much as anybody else is able to love.”
The second thing Pyszka wants more people to understand that sometimes the disability is not the problem. Pyszka explained, “Getting betrayed by your friends is always going to trump not being able to walk. The feeling of not being accepted is always going to trump not being able to talk.”