Chandler author Kate Mathias has enjoyed creating characters that jump into other worlds in her paranormal fiction books. But she found truth was stranger than fiction when she learned she had a brain tumor.
Mathias took a page from her own life when she wrote “Awake, but Still Dreaming,” about her diagnosis and recovery from a brain tumor. She’ll sign and sell all her books from 6-9:30 p.m. Friday at the Author Walk at the Third Friday Chandler Art Walk. Some proceeds from book sales will be donated to the National Brain Tumor Society.
“I wanted to make a difference with this because I feel like there’s a reason why I’m still here,” Mathias said. “I finally feel like I’m really living.
“Every day that I wake up is a blessing to me,” added the 39-year-old mother of three.
Mathias is excited to participate in her first Chandler author and art walk, which is expected to draw about 20 authors. The authors will chat with visitors as they sell their books in paranormal, historical fiction, science fiction, romance and other genres at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park on South Arizona Avenue.
Also that night, about 35 artists will sell their paintings, jewelry, woodwork, sculptures and other pieces in Dr. A.J. Chandler Park and along San Marcos Place, starting around SanTan Brewing Company and heading south. Local indie/pop music duo 76th Street will perform.
Mathias enjoys hearing from readers and wants to help others understand brain tumors.
Her ordeal began with severe headaches in 2012, and a doctor misdiagnosed her as having had a stroke.
Later Mathias injured herself at a gym and lost feeling from her waist down. Doctors at the hospital believed she had multiple sclerosis until finally a neurologist diagnosed her with a brain tumor.
The doctor told Mathias if she didn’t have surgery to remove it, she would probably die within two or three years.
“I really feel like I’m living on borrowed time,” Mathias said.
Her tumor was removed in February 2014. The tumor was not cancerous but it did leave her with some serious, lingering health problems.
The former teacher and Realtor, who moved to Chandler from Iowa six years ago, has a 10-inch scar on her head and suffers seizures as a result of the surgery.
But she’s on the mend, suffering fewer and less-debilitating seizures than she experienced right after the surgery. Mathias attributes her recovery to exercise, a healthy diet, supplements and getting enough sleep.
Despite the gravity of her health scare, Mathias shared funny moments in her latest book. She said having a brain tumor removed “made natural childbirth feel like nothing.”
“I wanted to have a book people could read and enjoy and not be so heavy,” Mathias said. “There’s multiple laughs told through creative non-fiction. You feel like you’re in the story.”
She said she tells her children to be kind to everyone because while people like her might look normal on the surface, they may be struggling with their own issues.
While “Awake, but Still Dreaming” is a personal tale, Mathias brings elements of herself into the characters in her other books: “Worlds Apart,” “Hiding in Plain Sight,” and “Spitfire.” The three books make up her “Silver Oaks” series, with “Worlds Apart” and “Spitfire” considered paranormal romance and “Hiding in Plain Sight” a paranormal suspense novel.
Mesa author Tara Majuta is also eager to meet readers when she returns to the Chandler author walk.
Majuta self-published a murder-mystery fiction book, “The Fascinating Files of Claudia Broadstad” in 2013 but also writes dark romances. She’s planning to release two more books in a few months while she also juggles ghost writing and writing creative web content.
The Chandler Author Walk lets the public dig deep with authors.
“It really inspires them because some 25, 30 years ago, it was very hard to be an author, to actually get published and get recognition like Stephen King,” Majuta said. “With the advent of self publishing and all of these platforms where you can put your book out there, it brings it closer to home.”
“We’re everyday people who are sharing our passion; our dream with the world,” she added.
The Art Walk started in 2009 and the Author Walk component was added a few years later. The Downtown Chandler Community Partnership (DCCP) holds the Art Walk from September to May every year, with the Author Walk element in November.
“People that appreciate art will definitely appreciate authors being there,” said Sonia Gracia, a Gilbert artist who makes jewelry and Chandler Art Walk veteran. “It’s another aspect of being creative.”
Gracia sells her polymer clay necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and miniature sculptures, as well as wall hangings through her company, Sonia Gracia Handmade. She describes her pieces as “somewhat simple” and modern.
A former commercial architect for 12 years, Gracia moved from New Jersey to Gilbert in 2010. She was looking for a new career path and started making rings. A bartender’s compliment on her ring inspired her to make a business out of her passion.
Gracia has sold her jewelry at several local art walks, as well as on Etsy and at MADE Art Boutique in Phoenix.
“The Chandler Art Walk has been so great,” Gracia said. “You see so many different people walking by and the interaction of the restaurants and everyone’s out there to have a good time.”