Book Title: Themensha
Author/Artist: MxKnowitall (a pen name of Morven Moeller)
Publisher: Dreampunk Press
Genre/s: SciFi/Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, LGBT, Speculative Fiction, Fiction for a Cause.
Estimated Length: 120 pages
Themenshais a graphic novel written and drawn by a young artist in memory of their grandmother and for Dementia Awareness. Morven Moeller (pen name MxKnowitall) is the author and an artist who creates gender non-conforming art. The book is based on real events and in memory of their grandmother. It's about a grandmother with Dementia/Alzheimer's and her interactions and legacy left on her transgender/non-binary grandchild. People will ‘pre-order’ the book through the Kickstarter for the first run. The publisher said they’d double the print run for anything over 100 orders. The author plans to sell any additional books in the Dreampunk Press online store or in-person at conventions (which they go to regularly to sell their artwork). Morven is hoping for at least 60 pre-orders, or even better, 250 because it’ll be a better print quality. However unlike other pre-orders, these will cost the same as the actual book, $12 (plus shipping).
Themensha explores the themes of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, LGBT acceptance, family, and purpose. Follow Leigh through the last month of their gramma’s life, where they find emotional strength, insecurity, and purpose.
The purpose of this Blog Tour is to promote the Kickstarter project running from June 1 - July 1.
PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT AND RECEIVE
AN EBOOK, SIGNED PAPERBACK, DIGITAL ART PACK, OR FOIL POSTER PACK
depending on how much you pledge.
See the link for more details
THE KICKSTARTER LINK
“It’s sad, but it’s okay that it’s sad. Because my love from my gramma becomes compassion for others in need. Because my love for my gramma becomes advice for a friend. Because my love for my gramma becomes a new closeness to others. And it’s love like that that heals and mends and brings us together. So, not a drop of my love from my gramma is wasted.”
A black and white Page from the graphic novel
How I imagine a young person would view this terrible disease…..
Did you become curious as to how your grandma developed this disease?
I have always been curious over it, but there really wasn’t much of a mystery with my grandmother’s case. 7 years ago, she was diagnosed with lymphoma which presented as two tumors in her brain. The damage those caused, the further weakness from chemotherapy, and the brain trauma from radiation treatment was bound to result in early on-set Dementia and/or Alzheimer’s. She happened to get both. She also happened to get lymphoma in the brain again which exacerbated the Dementia and Alzheimer’s and led to her death.
Was it Confusing for you when your Grandma started to act differently or didn’t recognize you?
Yes. I was fortunate that she recognized me as long as she did, but some of that was because she saw me every day and because I was a primary caretaker. The first things to change were subtle; she became more picky and more rude. Then, she started having trouble finding words to describe things or she’d use the wrong words entirely. For a while, I got to ‘come out’ to her everyday. I had to explain that I, this quite masculine person taking care of her, was the most recent evolution of her only granddaughter. Luckily, she took it very well, most of the time. At a certain point, I shaved my beard and wore very feminine clothes so she could connect me to her memories easier. The day she forgot who I was entirely happened to be the day that I cried the most over this entire ordeal.
Did your Grandma become violent at all? If so how did you cope with this behaviour?
She did not become violent. She became the most mellow person you’d ever met. A very good friend of my mother described her as a ‘marshmallow of a person’, which fits extremely well. She would rather shut-down than get angry. She was more often depressed than violent; in some ways, I think that was even sadder.
Did you feel yourself becoming frustrated by the new things it’s necessary to do, like repeating words or phrases?
Yes. My Nana liked the word ‘right’. She’d use it all the time. You’d tell her she needed to get ready for an appointment in an hour. “Right.” You’d remind her to get ready for her appointment in forty-five minutes. “Right.” You’d turn the television off, give her an outfit, and tell her she has an appointment in thirty-five minutes. “Right.” You’d begin to physically dress her. Then she’d ask, “Why are we getting ready to go? Where are we going?” It was a lot of repeating and it was extremely frustrating. But, you couldn’t get mad at her; it wasn’t her fault. You had to find some way to decompress and return to her, because she wouldn’t know why you were mad in the first place.
Did you become worried that she — or other friends and family members — might also develop Alzheimer’s?
Yes. I’m very alert to people repeating stories to me now. I’ve become frightened when people tell me the same announcement three times, especially when they’re related to me. I think it’s a new sixth sense brought on by constantly needing to keep a tally on my Nana for her different physicians and my autistic quirks. I’ve always been very good at observing people and critically assessing their behavior, but now I’m in overdrive with concern to these symptoms. My grandparents tell me the same story about every two weeks, but they’re older and only have a few story-worthy things happen at a time. My mother has told me the same thing multiple times in the span of three days, but that’s probably a symptom of grief. But, here I am, cataloging it in my head, like it’s useful information.
Were you ever unsure how to behave around your Grandma?
Constantly, especially with the whole trans-thing. I wanted to be connected with whatever memory of me she had that day, and it wasn’t usually an easy thing to accomplish. Although, to give her the credit and love that she deserves, she usually took it very well. She’d tell me to live my life the way I thought was best for me and not let anyone hold me back. Usually, we were very laid back with each other. I think I have to count myself lucky.
Did you find yourself amused at times with what your Grandma would sometimes say (Because it didn’t make any sense at all)?
One time she wanted her lunch, which was usually a sandwich with baby carrots and yogurt, but she couldn’t remember ‘sandwich’, so she asked me for the ‘two sponges with eraser between’. Another time she told me she had to ‘put the floor down’ before she could ‘raise the horse’; I think she meant to put she recliner-footrest away and stand up, but to this day I’m still not entirely sure. Before she died, she also had a lot of word-slurring, and she asked “bree-bacca” and it took both my mother and I to figure out that she wanted us to bring in her Chewbacca stuffed-animal.
Were you at all angry with how much of your time and care your Grandma needed?
Yes and no. I do feel like I’ve lost a good bit of my life to it. She was sick from the summer before 11th grade to the spring of my 2nd year in grad school. Those are the years that everyone says are the best in your life. (But, I also have the benefit of graduating college at 20.) Also, it spit me out into the world with VERY little job experience as taking care of her required a full-time caretaker, and I fit the bill. When people my age were off being teenagers, I was being a caretaker. When people my age were off socializing, I was counting pills in pill bottles. When people my age were inviting me to events, I couldn’t go because I had to take my Nana to a doctor’s appointment. Now, I have about three good friends, and the rest are nice acquaintances that I feel are strangers since I haven’t seen them in so long. I’m angry, but I also realize that I’d be very different if this hadn’t happened. I’m considered very mature for my age; people who are much older than me look to me for advice because of my ‘experience’. I’m always considered ‘an old soul in a young body’. I’ve lost two people in my life to brain tumors in the last 3 years, my best friend and my grandmother; at some point, I’d like for the ‘life experience’ to take a break.
I would like to send you my commiseration for the loss of your Grandma and to commend you on what your are trying to achieve in making people aware of Alzheimer’s. Good Luck!
Thank you! I knew very little when all this began, and, while it’s a very ‘adult’ topic (or at least it’s treated that way), I think that it needs to be approachable at all ages. That’s one of the reasons I chose to do this as a graphic novel. It will be something that anyone can read, that can help anyone understand this monstrous disease.
MxKnowitall, aka Morven Moeller, is a young artist out of Hampton Roads Area of Virginia. They are agender, preferring they/them pronouns, however they don’t consider that a huge part of their identity and other pronouns are also acceptable. They have a degree in Applied Mathematics and are finishing graduate study in Mission Analysis and Engineering. This may seem somewhat peculiar, but most things about Morven are peculiar. They have multiple LGBT novellas spanning from middle-grade to new adult genres and currently eat a lot of rice and veggies due to a cacophony of medically-necessitated dietary restrictions. They are a huge anime and animation fan, and that appreciation is often an influence on their work. Their interests often include LGBT topics, autism awareness, anime fandom, fanfiction, and their loving friends and family.
Facebook PROJECT PAGE
Facebook Author Page
Author's Amazon Page