#ActuallyAutistic Novels for #AutismAwareness Day

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and this book blogger is Autistic… and a publisher of an Autistic author that writes about Autistic characters.

In celebration, and to try to raise some awareness of at least some excellent books featuring Autistic characters living fairly realistic lives, let’s look at some books featuring Autistic characters, shall we?

First up is the first book I ever really saw that featured Autistic characters well. This is The Spectrum Chick and The Spectrum Chick II by Janey Klunder, and these are two of the books I have published myself via KDP. That said, I have no direct stake in their success – I’ve never made a penny from them and I never will. These books begin with the day a young twenty something Scottish lass first hears the word “Asperger’s” and follow her throughout the next few years of her life as she learns that a word just gives you an easier way to communicate something that has always been a part of you. Janey happens to be Autistic herself and shows the perspective of female Autistics well.

The next book was my introduction to a new author I’ve since come to enjoy – DJ Jamison’s Love by Number. This was a book where an overprotected Autistic young man finds love after a car crash in the parking lot at the ball park, and it portrayed the hyper focus we can get in particular very well – for its strengths and weaknesses. DJ is a mom of an Autistic, and far more open to our struggled and victories than many “Autism parents”.

Finally, I want to highlight At War with a Broken Heart by Dahlia Donovan. This is another gay romance, though this one happens to be a polyamorous gay romance to boot. I read an ARC of this particular book back in February, and its depiction of its Autistic main character (and even his brother, who is also Autistic but mostly off screen) was so spot on that I almost knew the author had to be either Autistic herself or have a very close family member that was Autistic (ala DJ, above). As it turns out, Dahlia too is Autistic.

Honorable Mentions to the following books for at least featuring Autistic characters in a positive way, even though the authors have no direct connection to an Autistic that I am aware of:

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey, which features people with superpowers – and these superpowers are all based on their Autistic traits, in a “next level of evolution” kind of set up. The entire trilogy is simply excellent.

The Eye of God by James Rollins is fairly deep into his Sigma Force series, but features a group of Autistic kids as a driving narrative – again in almost a “next level of evolution” kind of way.

I’m sure there are many more books that portray my people in a positive or at least real light. Feel free to name them in the comments. I’ll probably wind up adding them to my own TBR. ๐Ÿ™‚

Robinsonfest 2018: The Wrap Up

This time last weekend, I was laying in my hotel room at the Homewood Suites Hilton in Portsmouth NH, just a few hours away from going whale watching for the first time with Granite State Whale Watch in Rye, NH. I had already had amazing experiences dining at Moxy and Tuscan Kitchen in Portsmouth, NH and Wild Willy’s Burgers in Rochester, NH and had had a lot of fun racing, gaming, and playing putt putt at Hilltop Fun Center in Somersworth, NH as well as beginning the Apocalypse while relaxing at Butternut Farm in Farmington, NH. I had even been able to step foot in Maine long enough to get a selfie at Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery, ME.

I was doing all of this really fun stuff while also having a chance to meet and hang out with an author I’ve known online for a decade, Jeremy Robinson. The event, organized by Jeremy and his long time editor/ coauthor / friend Kane Gilmour, is called Robinsonfest mostly because Jeremy’s books are what bring everyone together, and no one has yet thought of a better name for it. As Jeremy somewhat wryly states in his own wrap up, he isn’t overly fond of the name and never really has been. ๐Ÿ™‚

But for those of us Jeremy brought together over a love of his books, it really was an awesome chance to just hang out with each other, have some fun, and relax. Having been to a few conferences of varying sizes both personally and professionally, it was a unique experience, even though it had the same basic idea – a bunch of people coming together over some commonality. At Robinsonfest, you had a fairly wide slice of life even with such a small amount of people. One person came from Australia and has made the trek across half a planet every year since this event started. One couple drove from Pennsylvania, where they both work in the government sector. Another couple came from Long Island, where he is a teacher and trying to break into the book narration field. Another guy came from the northern Chicago exurbs. I came from Georgia by by way of Jacksonville, the only person from the Southern US in the group. Most of us have known each other on Facebook for years. And while most of them had met each other and Jeremy and Kane in years past, I was the newbie to interaction in real life. And then there was the real newcomer, someone who mysteriously found out about Robinsonfest without any of the rest of us knowing and decided to come see what it was all about. Which was probably the most fascinating story of the weekend. Particularly once we discovered her reaction to the word “moist”. ๐Ÿ˜€ (Yes, I’m still needling her with it a week later. :D)

But the sense of camaraderie among all of these people, even while wildly divergent on all beliefs outside of the fact that Jeremy’s books are awesome, was simply amazing. And it was truly a truly phenomenal feeling to be a part of a group that could set aside all of those other differences and just hang out and be a community for a weekend. We laughed a lot, we cried a little. We worried when someone was worried. (A Kindle that was thought missing turned out to have been placed in an unexpected area of the person’s backpack. Yes, I am the person that misplaced his Kindle. :D)

I’ve got a summary video I shot 6 days ago as I was preparing to leave, and I’ve also got a 33 minute video I put together from everyone’s pictures and videos as well. I’ll link both of those after the jump.

But I want to close with this: I went into the weekend thinking that I could be the “weird guy”, as I have been in so many situations in my life. And instead, I was openly welcomed and embraced – in some cases literally. (There are some huggers in the bunch. :D) For someone that doesn’t have many friends, to be around people that I could so openly be myself with is always a treat. And it isn’t just fans of Jeremy’s books that come and are so embraced. There were at least three significant others there at various points of the weekend that really haven’t read Jeremy’s books at all, but were coming to support their partner. And they were made to feel just as welcome as anyone else, even if we did have to explain jokes based on Jeremy’s books (ok, so it was mostly me cracking those). So come if you’re a fan of Jeremy’s books. But come even if you’re just curious about them or have a partner that is either crazy or curious about them. You’ll be warmly embraced no matter what, and at minimum you will have a good time with good friends.
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