The Story behind the Story
Becoming an accidental author
Moving from Pennsylvania to Arizona as a young child, Jami Ober Gan was raised in the middle of four brothers in a busy, noisy, wonderfully chaotic and happy home in Tucson. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Deaf Education from the University of Arizona, she taught in Phoenix and Las Vegas for 5 years before returning to Tucson to teach and consult for another 22 years.
Jami has one daughter and two sons, who she still considers to be the three best things she ever helped make. They also grew up in Tucson and eventually grew up and out, which, she keeps reminding herself, is supposed to be a good thing!
Like many parents, after the kids leave and after retirement, she filled her time with being a member of different boards for various organizations, other volunteer opportunities and hobbies. One of those hobbies is creative writing. While The Lost and Found is her debut novel, she has had decades of experience writing song lyrics, poetry, daydreams and musings. She calls all of these things “word doodles”.
It was when she was working a part-time job while in college that Jami met a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Having the opportunity to get to know the woman and a few of her alters, she was intrigued by her interactions and observations of this woman and her multiple personalities. This was when the idea for her novel was born. She began her story a few years later but put it away when she began a family. It wasn’t until her middle child, Noah, found out that she had a story inside of her that, with his encouragement, she took it back out, dusted it off and got back to it.
There was a day about two-thirds of the way through her first draft, Jami went to Noah and shared with him her fear that others would not love her people and her places like she did. She worried that she was in over her head and began to question why she thought she could ever write a whole book! He asked her if all that she did was to finish getting the story out and making into a book that she could hold, would it be worth the time? She told him yes. He told her to get back to her writing.
And so she did. It was soon after his gentle push that Jami began to notice a difference in the process. She noticed that she read things differently now. When things interrupted her writing, it was unsettling and she began to see the holes in her story fill up and take shape into something resembling a novel. These changes were very unexpected and Jami took note of them. Now and then, she would write them down, not sure at the time what she would do with them. After deciding that they only broke the flow when included in the manuscript, Jami made a separate folder of these notes that you can now find in the Author’s Notes section of this site.
It was three in the morning when Jami finally typed her last word (of her first draft). She sat there and stared at the computer screen. That was the first milestone. There were no fireworks or champagne. But she knew that this was big. She now could say she finished her story. And that was better than fireworks or champagne. Little did she know that it would take several rewrites, several proofers and editors and several years until the second milestone- getting it ready to print. With the help and advice of friends who knew better than she did, she finally got all of the pieces needed to fill the puzzle of her debut novel.
Cover art: check
Text for cover: check
Website and social media set-up: check
There was one hiccup. One little speed bump. The title. She had been “married” to the title, The Lost & Found (….or How to Get Past Sixies) the whole time she was writing her story. Unfortunately, too many of her friends and advisors thought the subtitle might be too much. After waffling for a week and not knowing what to do, she took the advice of a professional who suggested that she poll a bigger sampling of friends and family to see which book title they would be more inclined to pick up. Below are the results of the poll:
The Lost & Found: 25
The Lost & Found (…or How to Get Past Sixies): 10
Whatever you call it, I will read it: 5
Neither one inspires me to pick it up: 1 (!)
Starting her sixth decade has led her to a few valuable lessons. One of them being that when many people tell you the same thing, they may just be right. Not an easy lesson for one that once had the nickname of “little Miss know-it-all”. So, as much as she wanted the subtitle, she listened. And then came the next milestone. It was time to download all of the pieces so that she could finally, at last, hold her story….bound with a cover and page numbers and a dedication and an ISBN number!!
So there you have it. What began as a chance meeting in college has led you to this reading. Jami does not worry, anymore, that you will like her ranch or love her people. She does enough for all of you. But she hopes you do. She hopes that you cry, and that you laugh and that you, like her, would not mind visiting The Lost & Found.