“Hear & Beyond”: Interview With Authors Shari Eberts and Gael Hannan
I recently had a chance to catch up with two of my favorite people—Shari Eberts and Gael Hannan—to learn about their new book Hear & Beyond, an unconventional guide to living with hearing loss. Here’s my interview with Gael and Shari:
Q: What's the book about – and what are you hoping readers will learn from it?
Gael Hannan: Abram, thank you for asking that question – it’s our favorite! As the title states (obviously, we hope), Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss is about moving from wherever you are now with your hearing loss to a more communication-rich life. It’s about the Big Picture: what to expect from a typical hearing loss journey and – here’s the most important bit – what can be changed and improved. It’s about the mental, technical, and interpersonal strategies that can work together to boost communication. We ask readers to consider shifting their focus from hearing better to communicating better – and that simple pivot can make all the difference.
Shari Eberts: One of the book’s early readers Rebecca Alexander, herself an extraordinary advocate for people with hearing loss, summed it up very well. She says, “In Hear & Beyond, Shari Eberts and Gael Hannan have created the ultimate survival guide to living well with hearing loss. For some readers, it will spark a sweeping life change. For others, it will be a turning point on their hearing loss journey.” That is our goal: that reading this book will help each person live better and more skillfully with their hearing loss.
Q: What motivated you to write the book?
Gael: Although my first book, The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss, touched on these important strategies, I wanted to write a book that laser-focused on the skills that I’d picked up through many long years of living with hearing loss, the crucial communication strategies that my hearing care professionals had never told me about. But I wanted to write it with someone, to add depth to the book, and that person could only be the amazing, advocate-extraordinaire, Shari Eberts.
“Hey, Shari! Want to write a book?”
“Sure. What about?
“Strategies for a better life with hearing loss.”
Shari: When Gael contacted me about writing this book with her, I was thrilled! I have always admired Gael—her advocacy, of course—but also the way she makes hearing loss accessible emotionally as a topic to discuss. Hearing loss often makes people shut down – isolating themselves from those they love. Gael’s warm approach draws people right in. And once we started talking, we realized we had so many of the same philosophies about living well with hearing loss that we both wanted to share. I can’t imagine a better writing partner than Gael, especially for a book like this.
Q: Clearly a good match – but what was it like writing a book together?
Gael: At first, we were cautious. Both of us were independent writers and we had different writing styles. Some co-authors write alternate chapters, but we didn’t want that degree of separation, preferring to speak with one voice. The book is punctuated with our personal stories and each section starts with a dialogue between us. As the book took shape, we learned to trust the process when things got jiggly – our term for hashing things out during rare differences of opinion or style.
Shari: At some point, we realized we were having a blast. It sounds corny, but we laughed together and cried together. And when we crafted what we thought was a particularly brilliant or moving phrase or paragraph, we whooped and high-fived across our time zones and Zoom screens.
Gael: The book was written entirely during the pandemic—we haven’t seen each other in person in years!
Q: Can you share one of your favorite specific lessons from the book that you hope will empower readers?
Gael: We have discussed this a lot – what’s the most important strategy? What’s the key lesson we want readers to get from the book? And we decided there isn’t just one. The main takeaway may vary for each reader because each one is in a different stage of the hearing loss journey. But, if we were forced to pick a favorite, it has to be attitude change, which we call MindShifts. In the book we lay out a trio of broad strategies that underpin skillful living with hearing loss, that work together like a three-legged stool, but without a willingness to look at our hearing loss in a new light, any other strategies we try simply won’t work as well.
Shari: We also developed a handy trick, HEAR, that helps you reconstruct a listening situation for better communication. And then there are our Hearing Hacks, where we combine the strategies into workarounds for almost any life situation. OK, it’s clear we have many favorite “lessons!”
Q: The book sounds wonderful - and much needed. When and where is the book available?
Gael & Shari: Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss will be published on May 3, 2022, but is available for pre-order now. Look for it at your favorite bookstore (the type with real doors and bookshelves), or online. IF you pre-order by May 2nd, you can email your receipt to mailto:email@example.com to receive an invite to an exclusive Q&A session with the two of us scheduled for May 19th at 7pm ET. We hope to see you there!
No one has commented on this page yet. We'd love to hear from you!