Alumna Victoria Inman hopes to spark conversations with new book

Grady alumna Victoria Inman (ABJ ‘08) recently published her first book, “Spark Acceptance.” It tells stories of exceptional people through photography, aiming to create greater awareness and inclusion about people with disabilities.

The book features photos of over 50 individuals, complemented with words from parents, caregivers and the photo subjects themselves.

“I was touched by every single story in here. I’m so incredibly proud of what we’ve produced,” Inman said.

She wrote the book in collaboration with David Carr, a four time Grammy award-winning musician.

Inman works as a client success director for Jabian Consulting. Outside of her day job, she is a photographer and writes a blog. She lives with her two daughters and husband in Marietta, Georgia.

Turning pain into purpose

Inman hopes her book will spark conversations about inclusivity, but her inspiration for writing it comes from her encounters with exclusivity. 

photo of Torie Inman holding up her book
Inman’s book is self-published, and took less than a year to complete from start to finish. (Photo/submitted)

Her daughter is on the autism spectrum, and Inman says she has experienced many unintentional negative and insensitive comments throughout the years.

Inman says comments such as “She doesn’t look like she has autism” and “Are you sure? Because I don’t really see it” degrades her daughter’s diagnosis.

“I knew they had noble intentions with what they were saying, but I just felt in my heart that I’ve got to tell these people what weight the words that they share carry on a person,” Inman said.

These experiences led Inman to write “Spark Acceptance”, a photo book which celebrates people’s differences. 

Inman says the spirit of her book is to turn her pain into purpose, giving others with shared experiences a platform on how to connect with people who are different.

inman is pictured with her husband and two daughters, one of which holds up her book
Inman pictured with her husband and two daughters at her book’s launch party on Oct 14. (Photo/submitted)

“Instead of going up to someone in a wheelchair and saying ‘What’s wrong with you?’, you can present in a way such as ‘Hey, I see that you might need help. How can I help you?’, or ‘Would you mind sharing with me your experience?’”, Inman says. 

When asked what the one takeaway she hopes people will have after reading her book, Inman says she hopes people will pivot their behaviors and become more aware of how certain words can hurt, rather than spark acceptance.

“I would just want people to really take in the words of what these people have shared and think twice about what they say.”

Inman notes that her book in no way is meant to shame people for their past comments, but rather, it’s meant to show what it’s like to be a caregiver for someone who’s different. 

“Hopefully, this book provides awareness of the different disabilities and the impact that words have,” Inman said.

Mic woman memories

During her time at Grady College, Inman majored in public relations. She was the secretary of PRSSA and she served as a Grady College ambassador.

In 2007, Inman made history as the first female mic person for the University of Georgia. (Photo/submitted)

Outside of her involvement at Grady, Inman started the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) at UGA, where she served as president.

In 2007, The Red and Black published a story about Inman (maiden name Trent). She was the first woman to take on the role of mic man at UGA. Click here to read the article. (Photo/Georgia Historic Archives)

She made history as the first female mic person for the university. 

“Traditionally, this role had always been filled by a guy,” Inman said. “I really didn’t even think they would consider me for it.”

After her roommates, who were cheerleaders, encouraged Inman to try out, she went through a week-long audition process.

“When they posted the team roster and I was on it, I was really shocked and excited.”

Inman says coach Shelly O’Brien made the program more inclusive that season, renaming the title of mic man to mic person.

She stays connected with the university by serving as a council member for the women of UGA Alumni Association.

From the idea to the launch party, “Spark Acceptance” took less than a year to complete. This is Inman’s first book, which is self-published.

“Advice that I have is if you are passionate about something, go and make it happen,” Inman said. “If there’s something that you are passionate about, find a way to step into that.”

More information on Inman’s book, along with a link to purchase, is available on this website.

For more alumni authors, visit this page.

Alumni Authors: Linda Hurtado Bond and Stacy Willingham

Authors Linda Hurtado Bond (ABJ ‘89) and Stacy Willingham (ABJ ‘13) have a lot in common and much to share. 

Of course, their fiction thrillers are page-turners, perfect for binging during spooky season. But beyond their printed words, sold on the shelves of bookstores across the country, the two authors are models of ambition and perseverance. 

Their paths show valuable lessons for Grady College students, current, future and past. 

Linda Hurtado Bond

Linda Hurtado Bond signing her newest book All the Broken Girls
Hurtado Bond is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist for Tampa Bay’s Fox 13. (Photo: Submitted)

By day, Hurtado Bond is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist for Tampa Bay’s Fox 13. By night, she’s an author of heart-stopping thrillers, including “Cuba Undercover,” “Alive at 5,” “Flatline” and her newest book, “All the Broken Girls,” which was released in August 2022 and follows a crime reporter who encounters a killing eerily similar to the murder of her mother, an event that happened 10 years prior that she was never able to solve. 

Hurtado Bond has always had a love for fiction, long before she walked through the doors of Grady College. However, she didn’t always see a career as an author as a true possibility. 

“I was the girl in high school always carrying around a notebook and writing down dialogue, trying to write a book,” she said. “It truly was a passion of mine, but I didn’t really think that you could make a career as an author. I don’t know why, but nobody really encouraged me or said ‘that’s an easy path.’”

Now working her dream job in television news and seeing her book next to those of James Patterson on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, “easy” is still not the right word to describe Hurtado Bond’s career, or her path to it. 

Ambition has always run strongly through Hurtado Bond. While studying at Grady, she recalls racing up the hill while carrying a “humongous” camera that she said “almost weighed as much as me” to follow breaking news stories. 

“You guys are lucky, because now you have iPhones,” she said with a smile. 

A heavy lift, either physically or mentally, has never dissuaded Hurtado Bond. Balancing her full-time career in journalism with being a mother of five, Hurtado Bond has still found time to publish four books, and counting. 

“It’s never going away,” said Hurtado Bond of her passion for writing. “You know you’re a writer when it’s never going away.”

Struggling to find enough time in her relentless schedule, Hurtado Bond described her long nights firing away at the keyboard in her home and, recently, spending five days locked up alone in her family’s condo re-writing the back half of “All the Broken Girls.”

When asked if she has any advice for current Grady College students who want to pursue a career writing novels, Hurtado Bond said: “Write, write, write, write, write. Allow yourself to be bad. If you’re a perfectionist, like a lot of writers are, you’ll never finish.”

More information on Hurtado Bond, as well as a complete list of her books, is available on her website

Stacy Willingham

Headshot of Stacy Willingham
Willingham’s first published novel, “A Flicker in the Dark,” made it on the New York Times Best Seller list just weeks after it was released. (Photo: Mary Hannah Harte)

On January 30, 2022, Willingham’s first published novel, “A Flicker in the Dark,” made it on the New York Times Best Seller list, just weeks after it was released. Set in Louisiana, the novel follows the story of a psychologist battling to preserve her happiness after the disappearance of teenage girls reminds her of terrifying events from her childhood. 

“Hitting the list has always been a dream of mine, and having the title of ‘New York Times bestselling author’ is something I can carry with me for the rest of my life,” said Willingham. 

Writing was always the plan, she explained, having composed her first short stories and books as a young child. When she entered high school, Willingham joined the school newspaper and developed an interest in journalism. 

That interest influenced her to major in Magazine Journalism at Grady College. After graduation, she accepted a job in marketing, working as a copywriter, while doing a bit of freelance journalism on the side. But, as always, her passion for long-form fiction continued to pull at her. 

Willingham was only 22 when she made the decision to dedicate her career to writing books. Breaking into the industry, though, is something that she found “very challenging.” 

“It ultimately took me seven years to get an agent and a book deal, and there were many times during those seven years I was tempted to give up,” said Willingham. 

“In the end, it was familiarizing myself with the success stories of other authors that kept me motivated — almost every single one of them has a story about getting rejected and almost giving up before they finally got their break,” she added. “Failure in this business is normal, and honestly, just a part of the process, so I tried to remind myself of that every time I was met with a particularly painful rejection. You just need one person to say yes.”

Willingham noted that learning how to craft a pitch from her professors at Grady College has helped her throughout her career, from pitching freelance articles to magazines to finding a literary agent. 

Inspired by childhood memories of watching “Columbo,” films by Alfred Hitchcock and “The Twilight Zone” with her parents and, as she grew older, studying true crime and the subject of criminal psychology, thrillers have always been Willingham’s genre of choice. Her second book, “All the Dangerous Things,” will be published on January 10, 2023. 

When asked if she has any advice for current Grady College students who want to pursue a career writing novels, Willingham said: “It’s important to read a lot. Figure out which authors inspire you and read their books with a keen eye. Then, once you’ve developed your own plot, work on the book in some regard every single day. That doesn’t mean you have to write every day, but at least think about it. Jot down notes when an idea strikes. Get to know your characters intimately. Remember that first drafts are never perfect. Your manuscript will probably be a hot mess in the beginning, but just getting it down on the page is the hardest part. After that, every round of edits will get you just a little bit closer to the final novel you have in mind.”

More information on Willingham, along with a link to purchase her book, is available on her website

For more alumni authors, visit this page.