Jalpa Williby has been a physical therapist for twenty-six years. The majority of her patients have cerebral palsy. That’s her day job,
Jalpa is also an award-winning author. I was curious whether there are any similarities between being a PT and a writer. I wanted to learn more about her and the nine novels she has authored.
I hope that you enjoy reading about this unique and fascinating woman. When you are finished reading this post I encourage you to download one of her books, You won’t be disappointed.
What prompted you to choose your career as a physical therapist?
I always knew I wanted to be in the medical field. I like to be able to make a difference in people’s lives. When I found out about physical therapy, I wasn’t quite sure what it was. I decided to volunteer in physical therapy to find out more about it. And instantly, I was drawn to it. I loved the one on one interactions with the patients. I saw the vital role physical therapists played in patients’ lives. I’ve been practicing for 26 years now and have loved every moment of it.
When did you begin working with individuals who have CP?
I’ve always worked with individuals with CP, but for the last eighteen years, the focus of my practice has been with neuro patients. The majority of my patients have cerebral palsy.
What are the challenges/rewards of being a PT?
The rewards will always outweigh any challenges. I feel that my patients actually end up being my teachers. I’ve learned so much from them…about courage, positivity, perseverance, motivation. They inspire me to bring the best version of myself every single day. A major challenge I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is that my body can feel the aches and pains. Practicing as a physical therapist for twenty-six years has definitely taken a toll on my body. But, I’m going to keep going. That’s what my patients have taught me. Never give up.
Are there any similarities between being a PT and a writer? Have any of your patients inspired any of your characters?
Creativity is a huge part of being a physical therapist and writer. Additionally, I think as a physical therapist and as a writer, I know people count on me to do my best. My patients need me to give 100% when I work with them. Likewise, my readers want me to put my best work out there. I expect nothing less from me, both as a physical therapist and as a writer. My patients definitely have inspired me to write My Perfect Imperfections. As a matter of fact, I wrote the story for them. Lily, the character from My Perfect Imperfections, is actually inspired by a beautiful, young woman I met, named Charisse. She also has cerebral palsy, and as I got to know Charisse more, Lily was created.
Were you nervous about writing a book about a young woman with CP? Many people do not believe that people who are severely disabled can find happiness and love. My Perfect Imperfections debunks that myth. How much research was involved in writing the book? If your book was made into a movie who are your top choices to play Chance and Lily?
Yes, I was nervous, to be honest. I was more nervous because I wanted to get it right. I didn’t want to insult anybody with cerebral palsy. It is a story about a strong, young woman, who has a bit more obstacles than average, to overcome. But, I wanted the audience to fall in love with Lily. I wanted them to see her as a beautiful, young woman, and not as someone with a disability in a wheelchair. This was very important to me. Lily has goals, desires, loves, hurts, falls apart, gets back up, and through it all, she keeps her head up. I wanted her to inspire the readers, and also, see the world of disability differently than what society portrays at times.
To prepare for this story, I interviewed many individuals with cerebral palsy. Outside of my own patients, I also reached out to individuals out in the community. The age varied, and some were married, some were working, some lived completely independently, and some lived in a facility. I just wanted to really reach out to get the full picture. That’s the beauty of social media. I found many new friends from writing this heartfelt story.
Man, that would be a dream come true if this was made into a movie. Here’s a fan-made trailer actually for My Perfect Imperfections (Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_S_GKfyL4qg
Tell us about your other novels Chaysing Trilogy and The Invisible Veil. Series These novels are a complete departure from My Perfect Imperfections. Where did the idea for these books originate?
Chaysing Trilogy is my first “baby” as I like to call my books. I got the idea to write this story because I always wondered what dreams really mean. Also, I’ve treated many patients where there’s some anomaly in genes. I always wondered why can’t it go the other way? What if the genes are perfectly aligned or even enhanced? So, this story was created. Chaysing Trilogy is romantic suspense. It has lots of twists and turns, guaranteed to make you cry and laugh.
My most recent books, The Invisible Veil Series, actually focus on human trafficking. I try to write stories that raise awareness of what’s going on around the world. Again, I do this through my characters. It’s also a romantic suspense, a thriller, and truly a story that will stay with you for a long time. I bring up PTSD of an American soldier as well as other issues we may face such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness. I only hope my characters bring hope to my readers when things may seem hopeless.
What is the writing process like for you? Do you outline first or just start writing?
Actually, I have to outline first, just to keep my thoughts organized. This is not rigid at all. But, it keeps me focused on what I want to include in my story. For example, for My Perfect Imperfections, I made a list of what I wanted to include. I definitely wanted to bring up the stereotypes of people in wheelchairs, the bullying, communication devices, what happens if the wheelchair breaks down, physical or sexual assaults, fitting in socially, and dating/falling in love. These were tough topics to write about, but so vital to the story. Almost always, though, the story changes as I start writing. The characters kind of take over and they dictate how they want their story to go. Lily and Chance were supposed to be best friends only. Originally, I had no plans on them falling in love. But, as I continued to write, as crazy as it may sound, they kind of wrote their own story.
You have won numerous awards as an author What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you since you began writing?
I never expected to win awards, to be honest. The books also have been best sellers. It’s all been surreal for me. I additionally began writing because it was a challenge to myself. I had no idea how awesome this ride was going to be. The most exciting thing though? I’d definitely say the readers. I love it when I receive a heartfelt review of a story. I love it when I get personal messages that say how much the story helped them see things from a different perspective. If I can help even one person through my stories, then really, what can be more gratifying than that?
Can you give us a hint about your next writing project?
To be honest, I’m focusing on my family and myself right now. I still work full time as a physical therapist, so writing is typically done late nights and on weekends. I have nine books out right now, but I worked non-stop to get them out. Right now, I think it’s important I spend time with my son and just enjoy him (he’s my last baby). This doesn’t mean my mind is still not going a hundred miles per hour. I’ve been taking notes on a possible story. It would be a young adult dystopian genre. I really want to write it because I bring up a lot of the political mess that’s going on currently in the world. Most will say to stay away from politics, but you know what? I’ve never been the cowering type. I’m very emotionally driven, so I tend to follow my heart first. Perhaps it’s not a good trait, but it is what it is. Hopefully, I’ll get to finish that story one of these days. I do think it’s going to be very intense…
Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?
First of all, thanks for having me. I’m truly honored to be your guest. I’d like to encourage your readers to try one of my books. They all are different, but each definitely will stay with you for a long time. The books are all available on Amazon. If anybody wants to stalk me, you can find me at the following sites:
FB Reader page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/JalpaWilliby/