August 15, 2011
By Autism Society
Katie Bridges has received awards for her juvenile science fiction novel Warriors of the Edge: The Search for Stone. She maintains multiple blogs about writing, life as a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, futurism and other topics at her website, www.warriorsoftheedge.com.
Missed Part I on Friday? Read it now.
AS: How has your first novel, Warriors of the Edge: The Search for Stone, been received?
KB: I have been fortunate in that my writings have strong reader appeal across all age groups. This helps immensely in getting my book known by word of mouth. I depend upon reader comments to help generate interest in my book. I have found that other people are far better in promoting my story than I am.
I have not been fortunate in getting a single publisher or agent to read anything I write. “If you can’t get anyone to read your writing, go with self-publishing, so you can prove your book has reader appeal,” I was told. So, I did. And I haven’t regretted it. I was immediately awarded with the Editor’s Choice and Rising Star awards, very rare honors for a children’s novel, allowing my book to be featured on Barnes and Noble’s Rising Star page. This was the stamp of credibility that pronounced my book to be on equal terms with books coming out of major publishing houses.
AS: How does it feel to be a published author?
KB: Nerve-wracking. I can understand J.K. Rowling’s desire to hide once her first book became popular. She was so stressed that she couldn’t even sleep. The more attention I get, the more challenging it becomes for me. But I knew it would be difficult for me long before my book came out. I told my husband, “If my book doesn’t go anywhere, I’m going to be really shook up. And if my book takes off, I’m going to be really shook up.”
He said, “Well, you can’t win this one, can you?”
It helps when I tell myself to expect a period of adjustment for every step I take into new territory. I am adjusting and learning new coping methods to deal with brand-new things that I’ve never had to do before. It helps to be surrounded by support too.
AS: How do your stories reflect your life experiences?
KB: My stories are symbolic of my own life in many ways. You wouldn't necessarily be able to pick out what I've been through from reading my stories, but there are bits and pieces of me in many of my characters. I am like the main character, Tarek, who was forced into silence through a mute machine. In this way, he symbolizes my struggle with verbal communication. His best friend Masker is bullied, but only slightly. I minimized by own experiences with being bullied, so as not to disturb young readers. I am a bit like Masker’s mom, who suffers from anxiety and fear of all kinds. Tarek’s dad symbolizes my husband and the kind of relationship we have. I tend to buck the status quo and look for new ways of doing things, like the teenage Radley. And yet I feel guilty when I break the rules, just like the rule-abiding Minda.
AS: What advice do you have for aspiring writers, especially those with autism?
KB: Look to your strengths and build on them to compensate for any areas of weakness that you may have. Maybe you enjoy research, but suffer from a lack of confidence. Use your knack for research to build confidence in yourself. As you gain knowledge from digging deep into your favorite area, you will begin to feel that you can accomplish something with all that you’ve gained. Maybe you are repetitive, but struggle to see the big picture. Use your repetitive nature to rewrite that same paragraph or chapter again and again. As you absorb yourself into it, it will grow in your mind little by little until you begin to see the big picture. Maybe you enjoy creating details, but struggle to come up with dialogue. Use your detail-oriented mind to come up with ways for your character to say something and then choose the best dialogue. What you lack in one area, you can make up for in another. Learn as much about yourself as you do about writing, and the two will work together to bring excellence to what you produce.
Develop the practice of clever writing. Spend time every day trying to come up with a single clever thought, interesting turn of phrase or unique sentence. It may take time to come up with something, but once you do, you’ll get a feel for it. Then it will come easier for you the next time around. It’s a way of training your brain to think in a new way. Above all, have fun. If you’re having fun, your stories will reflect that feeling of enjoyment to your readers.
Topics:Living with Autism
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