CLIFTON PARK — Janine De Tillio Cammarata, local author and president of Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, is no stranger to writing about tough topics.
But with her latest book, she’s taking them on in a new way.
“The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs,” is the first book in a middle-grade fantasy series and the newest of several books Cammarata has published.
The Clifton Park resident started writing it in 2007 and it began as an adventure story for her children. But things changed when her son was diagnosed with Leukemia.
“I meant it as a memoir to for them, but then Nick passed away in 2008,” Cammarata said. She put the book on the back burner for several years and focused on her work with the Foundation.
But about three years ago, she picked it back up and gave it a new focus.
“11-year-old Luke is in the hospital and he’s hoping for a distraction,” Cammarata said. He starts working on this puzzle, that eventually brings him, his brother and two friends into another world.
Luke is based on her son Nick, and the story even includes a scene from a swim meet taken right out of Nick’s life. The three other main characters are Peter—who resembles Nick’s brother—Rose and Mark, who are based on Nick’s close friends.
In “The Puzzle Quests: Shimmer’s Eggs,” Peter tries desperately to help Luke get better and goes on a dangerous quest with Rose and Mark.
Writing the book was difficult, Cammarata said, but it was also healing. Nick was an avid reader and had a big influence on some of Cammarata’s other works and this one was no different.
“I think it helped me feel more connected with my son,” Cammarata said.
The book takes chances, taking on topics like terminal illness with quests and fantasy adventures. According to Cammarata, a few local teachers and staff members at Albany Medical have given the book to kids with serious illnesses. While stories can be fun to read, they can also be healing, Cammarata said.
“It’s about enduring friendship, never giving up and it’s a book about dealing with anything life-threatening,” Cammarata said.
At 3 p.m on Nov. 18, Cammarata will be at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza for a book signing. There will also be a launch party from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sun. Dec. 10 at the Clifton Park Halfmoon Public Library.
Partial proceeds of the books go to Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation, which assists kids, teens and adults who are being treated for cancer. For more information, visit janinedetilliocammarata.com.