When Holly Williams of Crowborough died at birth, the doctors who resuscitated her delivered a grim prognosis to her parents.

Yet, despite being unable to walk or talk properly, she passed exams, works and has just published her second book.

She tells Ruth Addicott her extraordinary story and gives her views on living with cerebral palsy, the curse of depression and Harry Potter. She also owns up to an odd' taste in men...

"I believe there are two ways to deal with a disability," says Holly Williams, who suffers from cerebral palsy. "You can sit back and say Damn it, this is happening to me' or you can fight it. I've always chosen the second way."

Holly, 26, was brain damaged at birth, leaving her unable to speak or move the muscles in her hands, arms and legs properly. She knocks things over unintentionally, has to drink through a straw and relies on 24-hour care.

What she does have, however, is an incredibly sharp mind and the will to get on with life despite her disability.

She edits two magazines, acts as an advocate with the Education Authority and has just written and published her second book A Warlock In Jersey, which is part two of a trilogy.

"I've always wanted to do the best I could, ever since I was little," she says. "But being like I am, I feel I have to prove myself all the time. A lot of disabled people say we want to be treated like everyone else but I don't want to lower my standards, I want to do better. People might be able to move ahead of me physically but mentally I'm as good, if not better."

Her message to people who don't have cerebral palsy is: "Don't assume we're different."

And the longer you spend in her company the more this rings true.

Holly has an infectious personality, a great sense of humour and is an inspiration to everyone she meets.

She turns up for the interview with her mother Jill, who is her mum, full-time carer and best friend rolled into one.

Holly's problems began at birth.

She was a "transverse" baby (wrapped around the womb) and seven days overdue. Jill was rushed in for an emergency Caesarian. She finds it difficult, even to this day, to talk about the events that followed.

"Holly actually died at birth," she explains. "She had to be resuscitated and they said if she does survive, we don't know what she'll be like. We were told she would amount to nothing more than a vegetable. She wouldn't be able to walk, she wouldn't be able to talk. It was awful..."

As she falters, Holly reaches out to hold her mother's hand.

The doctors were so doubtful about Holly's health they didn't expect her to last the night. She surprised everyone.

Holly was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was just over a year old.

Ask how people react to her disability now and she doesn't hold back: "People think I'm thick," she says, bluntly.

"Sometimes people talk to me as if I'm a kid or mentally disabled. It's annoying but I'm not ashamed of who I am. Little kids tend to stare at me and that I don't like, it's as if they are scared of me. I try and talk to them or wave and be friendly but if I'm down it makes me really upset and I just wish they'd stop."

Being Holly, however, she has her own unique way of dealing with it.

"If people start talking down or patronising me I see it as a free card to do it back," she says. "I'll say something like You have no idea what the f*** I'm saying, do you?'. And they just smile back oblivious."

Not knowing where to look, Jill gives an apologetic glance, adding that Holly isn't always the most "tactful".

Holly, whose language can be quite colourful at times, says it's a kind of "Carry On Tourettes".

Holly was two when she had her first epileptic fit and as she got older, the epilepsy got worse.

"It was terrifying," she says, referring to one of her seizures. "I was totally conscious the whole time. I'd panic and there was nothing I could do to stop it."

She was back and forth to hospital all the time when she was young, with chest infections, sickness and dehydration. The pressure on Jill and Holly's father, David, as they watched their daughter lying there on a drip was immense. They feared on many occasions Holly wouldn't pull through.

But even when Holly nearly slipped into a coma when she was only six, Jill never gave up hope.

Jill admits, despite the support from David and the rest of the family, there were times when she felt very lonely.

"I tried to take Holly to as many places as possible," she recalls. "I used to take her to the mother and baby clinic and all the mothers would be there with their children who had nothing wrong with them. They'd be saying, Oh, he's walking now' and she's done this and he's done that.

"I found it quite hard not reaching the same kind of milestones other mothers reached. Their concerns seemed such little worries. I used to feel like holding Holly up and saying She's still breathing, she's doing OK'."

Jill recalls another time when they went to Treasure Island in Eastbourne and Holly tried to build a sandcastle. "It took ages because it kept falling down but she carried on building. I thought, Please, please, don't let anyone knock it down'. Then, when she'd finished, a child came along and kicked it over.

Holly went beserk for about an hour."

Holly was given as normal a childhood as possible. She loved Brownies (gaining a clutch of badges and awards) and never missed a meeting. Even when it was snowing and no one else turned up, Holly insisted on going.

At the age of five, she went to a special school in Chailey called Chailey Heritage. Then from 13 to 16 she attended Patcham House School.

She has seven GCSEs, a City and Guilds in photography and an A-Level in media studies.

Since she was 18 she has worked three days a week as a media assistant at Chailey Heritage Enterprise Centre (CHEC), a social firm which offers a working environment for disabled people. Apart from independence, it gives her a chance to meet people and socialise.

As well as being a huge fan of musicals (she's seen Phantom Of The Opera five times), Holly is not one to shy away from a challenge and even went parascending on a recent trip abroad. She was lifted up in a parachute and towed across the water by a speedboat. Holly came through it unscathed - it was her mum who ended up with the broken thumb.

As impressive as her achievements are, Holly is the first to say it hasn't been easy.

"I get really annoyed when I read articles about disabled people and they say despite everything, she's really cheerful'. They must be lying," she says. "The reality is, it's hard. I had a breakdown and even contemplated suicide a few years ago."

Holly went through a deep low point after the loss of her grandad and best friend Michelle. Suffering from depression, she couldn't sleep, she didn't want to go out, she couldn't communicate with anyone around her and reached the depths of despair.

"My granddad died and I adored him," she says, sadly. Her earliest memories are dancing around the garden playing with her grandparents and losing someone who had been there for her right from the start hit her hard. She had barely come to terms with it when her best friend Michelle died of pneumonia.

"She was my friend for many years and lived as if each day was her last.

I was very close to her," she says.

On top of all that, Holly lost her dog, which had followed her around and kept her company since she was five.

"If someone said to me, you could have cerebral palsy or be able-bodied and live with depression, I'd live with CP because depression is the most disabling thing there is," she says.

"I always used to think my body didn't work but up here (she motions to her head) I'm fine. I'm an intelligent person but I just couldn't see my way out. I thought, What's wrong with me?' People would tell me to snap out of it but I couldn't. In the end, I said I want some tablets, I want to get away from this'."

Fortunately, Holly had her mum to look out for her and, with her family around her, she finally found the strength to carry on.

Writing her first fantasy book, The Jersey Guardian (Book Guild Publishing, £17.99), also helped.

Aimed at teens and adults it tells the story of 14-year-old Jessica Kent who, while trying to find out about her dead mother, uncovers a dangerous world of demons and secrets. Holly admits some of the darker parts reflect her feelings at the time.

"Writing is the purest form of communication because I can take my time and express myself," she says.

"It's an escape."

The message she hopes to convey through her books is that everyone has the strength within them to overcome tragedy.

Although some things in life can't be changed, she says, "It is better to live life to the best you can, rather than wishing things were different".

Access to the internet has had a huge impact on Holly. She is able to express herself much more fluently through email, pointing out that her written word is her "true voice".

When she is not writing her blog, Holly is an avid reader, poring over anything from Harry Potter to Chat magazine.

Her only criticism of Harry Potter is it's "a bit middle class" - one reason she made the heroine of her books an ordinary girl from a single parent family.

And Chat? "I like reading about weirdos," she quips.

Asked how she feels about the future, Holly suddenly becomes very serious. "Afraid," she says, simply.

"I am terribly afraid."

It is one reason, she says, why she has written the books now, fearing if her circumstances change, she would not have the freedom to do so in future.

At the moment, Holly lives at home but has her own self-contained bedroom, sitting room and bathroom.

One thing she says she would like is a boyfriend and is quite amused at being quizzed on her ideal date.

She claims she has "odd" taste in men, citing a young Tim Curry as Frank'N' Furter in the Rocky Horror Show as a hot contender. "Someone confident and flamboyant, like John Barryman or Johnny Depp," she says.

Spending so much time together means mother and daughter have their moments and Jill is the first to admit they "argue like mad". "Sometimes I think we're too close," she says, truthfully. "Holly can be really annoying, she's very strong willed and she knows how to wind me up. But I am very proud of her.

"She's achieved so much when you consider her beginning and what she's done. Her books have got a real depth to them. I think she is a very special person. If she's got a friendship with somebody she will do anything for them. She realises she is lucky compared to some and always wants to help, putting other people first."

As for her mum, Holly has no hesitation.

"She is everything to me," she says. "I couldn't do it without her."

  • A Warlock In Jersey, part two of The Jersey Demon Trilogy by Holly J Williams, is published by Book Guild Publishing, at £17.99, on October 25.