Kara Stanley

Author of The Pain Project, Fallen and Ghost Warning


The Pain Project is available in bookstores or online April 9th, 2024

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Published by Greystone Books.

Ten years after her husband’s catastrophic injury, author Kara Stanley embarks with him on a journey to understand his chronic pain and find pathways into joy and relief.

Kara and her husband, Simon, are at a desperate crossroads. In 2008, Simon fell off a scaffold, causing severe injuries to his brain and spinal cord. He made a remarkable recovery, eventually adjusting to life in a wheelchair and returning to his career as a musician, but he continues to suffer from debilitating pain that is beginning to strip away his selfhood.

On the ten-year anniversary of the accident, Kara and Simon decide to confront Simon’s pain head-on by committing to a personal experiment. For one year, they will focus on researching, interviewing experts, and exploring both new, and age old, pain relief strategies. A decade ago, Simon was prescribed the pain-relieving drug hydromorphone. Can he discover an alternate therapeutic approach that is at least as effective as daily doses of opioids?

As they navigate a difficult year, Kara’s tenacity and Simon’s wit shine through in their honest conversations, insightful journal entries, and affectionate banter. Throughout, they seek answers to profound questions about the nature of suffering and pain:

  • Is it helpful to conceptualize pain as a disease, or not?
  • What does it mean to understand that pain is always a creation of the brain?
  • What is the difference between healing and curing? Is healing still possible even when all-better is not an option?

Globally, at least one in five people suffer from chronic pain, placing an enormous burden on medical systems around the world. Not just a medical but also a social justice issue, chronic pain continues to be poorly understood and poorly treated. It is a challenging topic to discuss with friends and family because, as Simon says, no one really wants to lead with their cloud. Deciding to accept this challenge, Simon and Kara’s experiment is a wide-ranging exploration of the definitions, treatments, science, myths, and meanings of the mysterious and multi-faceted force that is pain.

As difficult as the topic is, it can also provide us with an opportunity to question our current course. What can we learn when we confront our pain head-on? Honest, deeply researched, insightful, and ultimately hopeful, The Pain Project is a must-read for anyone looking for a greater understanding of pain as a phenomenon and in their own lives.

Published by Caitlin Press.

On the day that Lou James finds her father dead on the garage floor, she leaves her small hometown and heads for Toronto on a Greyhound, initiating a series of events that will reshape her life. 

Amidst the strangeness of life in Toronto, where vibrancy and violence mix, Lou builds a small community: Isabelle, the welcoming neighbour and new best friend; Sal, Lou’s angry but big-hearted godfather; despairing Donnie, a troubled fledgling drug dealer; dreamy Finn, lead singer in a post-punk band, and mysterious Stella, the old woman who spends her days seated on the back steps of a locked church door surrounded by plastic bags and bottles of Pepsi. When a series of savage and homicidal acts plague her new neighbourhood, Lou, following in her journalist father’s footsteps, attempts to investigate.

As her final year of high school unfolds, Lou comes perilously close to discovering the truth, and violence erupts, once again unravelling her world. She hops on a Greyhound, destination unknown, propelled by the urgent need to bridge the distance between the life she shared with her father and this precarious new existence where he grows ever more remote to her.

Published by Greystone Books.

In the vein of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Kara Stanley tells the compelling story of her husband’s life-changing brain and spinal cord injury and the role of music, science, and love in recovery.

Kara Stanley combines the heart-wrenching narrative of a catastrophic brain and spinal cord injury her husband suffered after a fall with the latest research on the brain. She also describes the transformative role of music both before and during his continuing rehabilitation and his battle to return to work as a professional musician. At the heart of the story is the relationship between Stanley and her husband, as she explores what allows a marriage to grow and thrive amid pain, chaos, and uncertainty.

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