Exclusive interview with author "Sonia Palleck"
Sonia Palleck was born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. One of five children, she was an avid athlete and excelled in school. She went to school at Western in London, Ontario and graduated from Dentistry in '93 and Orthodontics in '99. She became a clinical instructor and taught residents for ten years at the Graduate Department of Orthodontics. She pioneered the use of digital orthodontics in practice and has lectured all over the world to share her knowledge with others.
After marrying her dental school sweetheart, Sonia moved to this small bedroom community and welcomed her one and only child, Djuka, to the world.
In 2018, following her divorce and the death of her parents, Sonia searched for healing to bring meaning and peace to her life. In 2020, Sonia wrote a series of four books called “Leave the Little Light On,” each volume named after the four cities where she has lived and worked. They are based on her life but she maintains they are a fictional representation. They are her contribution to the world; a new modern love story. She designed and painted their covers. She is an advocate for love.
Tell us about your book, Leave the Little Light On, Book one: Windsor.
This book is the new, modern love story. It is about a young girl, Athena, and her quest to live peacefully ever after. It follows her from the age of three until eighteen. The story delves into the themes of family conflict, childhood trauma and alcoholism. It is a coming of age tale set in a truthful depiction of the 70’s and 80’s.
It’s a part of a series. Why did you decide to write it?
It wasn’t so much a decision as a revelation. I was lying in bed, half asleep. A man’s voice, outside of my consciousness said very clearly in my right ear, “It’s time to write.” I jumped out of bed, checked my bedroom for an intruder, and then went for a journal on the shelf. I held a pen over the page and my breath. The words tumbled forward for an hour. This happened again the next morning. And the next. I was simply compelled to write every morning from 4 am to 5 am. It flowed out of me and there was no way to stop it really.
Where does book one take the reader?
The story is gripping and fast paced. The reader is with Athena step by step on her journey in the present moment. The books are all written in chronological order and don’t jump around timelines. It gives the reader the sense of being in the now. At times it is difficult to witness because of the trauma Athena suffers at the hands of others. But this awakens empathy in the reader, an important piece of this work’s purpose. Loneliness, fear, sadness or joy are universal emotions. It gives the reader a taste of life in this time, when conforming and belonging was paramount.
Each book is based in a different city - Windsor, London, Dorchester and Woodstock - what significance do these locations hold for you?
These are the cities in Ontario, Canada in which I have resided. I was born and raised in Windsor. I moved to London for my dental education. We had our family home in Dorchester. I built my orthodontic practice in Woodstock. In each of these four books, the central character of Athena undergoes significant life changes that alter not only her physical surroundings but the people who are around her and her focus. Her mental and emotional development is examined at all the different stages of her life and how the other characters and her relationships affect her. The cities represent the four seasons of her evolution as a human being.
Does your protagonist, Athena, mirror your life experiences?
Athena is a headstrong, intelligent, resourceful child with a giant heart. She loves her older sisters and longs to be seen, especially by her mother. Athena has a keen sense of justice and she longs for peace amidst the turmoil that surrounds her. Does she mirror my life? Yes. I could see that from the very first chapter. I recognized the scene as I was writing it, but did not pay much attention as I was not truly aware of what was to come. When I felt I was being asked to share too much, I tried to resist the writing but that was unsuccessful. The words came in such an avalanche that if I didn’t write them down, I couldn’t think beyond them. I resigned myself to tell the story as it came to me. The character Athena is based on myself, filtered through fifty years of memory. I was not so much navigating the stories, but simply telling them as I recalled. I realized that it is that perspective, my own lens, that makes it fictional.
What would you like readers to take away from your books?
Shake what your trauma gave you. First of all, shake it off. Athena is resilient and moves forward with an inner strength and self-belief that is inspiring. But also, shake a tail feather - trauma makes us interesting and there is no need for self- imposed shame when you have experienced trauma. The reader can see Athena try to make sense of what is happening around her. There are no balancing perspectives as in today’s society. There are no therapists or help lines. The 70’s and 80’s were a much different time. It is important that we understand that each person carries their own perspective and trauma. The reader will have theirs and can examine it to see if they are similar or dissimilar to Athena’s. Her conclusions are not always correct and she is flawed in many ways but it is only through self-reflection that she can ever see who she is becoming compared to who she wants to be. Everyone is a work in progress and there is a little light inside of each of us, that guides our soul’s path, that is love.
Have you always been a writer? Tell a little bit about your life journey.
I have always journaled and written poetry. First, to put my feelings to paper. I would also destroy any of those writings so no one in my family could ever read them! My poems were deep and metaphorical. I had a core belief in love and especially romantic love. Star crossed lovers topped my list of the saddest things on the planet. But as my family struggled with money, I chose a path in dentistry that was reliable to give me financial security. I figured that I could write on the side if I wanted to. But that wasn’t easy. It took me 15 months to write over 600,000 words and almost 9 months to transcribe them from my handwriting into the computer. It was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done to maintain the discipline to do it but I believe in the message of this series; that love is unconditional and we are one. That is what kept me going, the little light inside me.
What authors do you find inspiring?
I love Tolstoy. I love Harper Lee, Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway. Dickens and all the Bronte’s of course. I think Wuthering Heights is still my all-time favorite. It crushed me when Catherine died. I love writing that puts you in the book, in the time. You have the experience yourself instead of being told everything. The reader is allowed to feel things and be the judge. This is an important part of reading because it expands our awareness and compassion for others through this creative connection. These writers are all powerful masters of language and convey the human experience in a divine sense and it’s like being part of their world for a moment. That is who I hoped I was channeling!
What actress would you cast to play Athena?
Well I would love if Gal Gadot or Anne Hathaway played Athena but that’s in book three or four probably. Sandra Bullock also comes to my mind as an actor with depth, talent and real life experience to back it. It would have to be a child actor for the first book. Definitely would be an interesting search to find the person that encompasses Athena in her early years.
What can we expect from you next?
My future plans are to step into the world as an advocate for love. I have been a healer, helping people achieve beautiful smiles and a teacher, showing others around the world how to do that. I want to use these skills to open a dialogue about love. I believe that the reason for being is to know that we are love and I want to share this with others. The books bring this message into focus and will be a lot to unpack. That will be my role. Kind of like the Lorax of Love. I speak for love and I want others to as well. My tagline is Sonia Palleck, Love Advocate. Be One.
For more information on Sonia ad her books, please visit https://www.soniapalleck.com/