Malva Freymuth Tarasewicz, D.M.A., writer and professional violinist, is first and foremost a mother; her son, Benjamin, has long been the focus of her creative energies. Now, Benjamin is a young adult with a talent for public speaking, and Malva has teamed up with him, creating presentations about living with autism which educate while also inspiring others to overcome their personal challenges. Malva and Benjamin maintain a blog that continues the life-story begun in the book; it runs under the same title: Benjamin Breaking Barriers.
Malva holds a doctoral degree in music, performs and teaches, and is the author of the acclaimed book, Mental Practice and Imagery for Musicians. During her free time, Malva trains her horse and competes in upper-level dressage. She lives in Boulder with her family, appreciates the beauty of nature that surrounds her home, and revels in the expanding adventure that is Benjamin Breaking Barriers.
What inspires you to write?
Ever since my early teens, I’ve kept a personal journal – writing is a way for me to process experiences and feelings, a way to problem-solve, and a means for savoring the good things in life. This natural bent towards writing has allowed me to produce two books, both based on materials found in my journals.
My first book came about when I experienced debilitating tendonitis as a music student at university; my budding career as a professional violinist was in jepoardy. Exploring the principles of sport psychology in combination with the many ideas and techniques I had already developed on my own, I healed my injuries, reworked my approach to violin playing, and then – wanting to help other injured musicians – I wrote about my discoveries in magazine articles and produced a book: Mental Practice and Imagery for Musicians. My doctoral dissertation was actually the first incarnation of the book.
My second book, Benjamin Breaking Barriers, is based on the detailed journals that I recorded while raising a son with autism. I’ve always been a teacher, and it turns out that the combination of my instincts, knowledge, and creativity have allowed me to function successfully as Benjamin’s primary autism therapist throughout his life. Needless to say, the process of journaling has helped me maintain my sanity while dealing with one challenge after another. Journaling has also helped me to capture the beautiful and rewarding moments. My son’s poetic spirit and his angelic looks have inspired me throughout our life journey together, and I am grateful for my compulsion to record, on paper, the magic of childhood and the spiritual insights that stem from being a parent.
Throughout the years, people have commented on the special bond they recognize between my son, Benjamin, and me. They have asked me to share stories about parenting, particularly in regards to Benjamin’s autism, but also in a more general sense. After consistently getting feedback that my creative ideas and my spiritually-aware approach are inspiring and helpful, I eventually decided to tell the full story of raising Benjamin, thus producing my second book, Benjamin Breaking Barriers: Autism – A Journey of Hope.
Tell us about your writing process.
I draw a lot of mind maps and use colored pencils and drawings to make the connections more visually alive. I also make lists on variously shaped and colored paper so that I can build “collages of thoughts” on my workspace floor. I do a lot of walking on the trails near our home, and many of my best and clearest ideas come while hiking, so I keep a notepad in my pocket; I don’t want to lose those sparks of inspiration! This process makes me think of Beethoven who did the same – walking and composing out in nature – and I feel that the fresh air comes through in my writing.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be consistent in applying yourself – writing a book is like building a cathedral, you have to keep at it and not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the project. Connect to your heart, find your inner song, and release the music through the words on your page…
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My son and I regularly give inspiring and educational presentations on living with autism titled, “Breaking Through Barriers,” and our audiences have been eager for a book detailing our story. With time being of the essence, I decided on self-publishing the book. I also had clearly defined ideas for the book’s cover, content, and structure, and it thus made sense to move forward quickly.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that the traditional route of agent/publisher does not fit many stories/lifestyles, and am encouraged by the growing recognition that self-published books can be of equal quality to those vetted by major publishing houses.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
memoir; self-help; parenting; education; technique manuals;
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print