I'm always in two frames of mind as to whether I should explain inspirations for my books. Some readers like to know and some do not. However, if you spend long enough on my Facebook page, some hints start to seep out. I'm not overly public with my life, but I do, on occasion, share information about those bigger life events that affect me, namely to do with my family and my daughter (and my cats!).
I think first it's important to mention that a story usually develops its own life, and is its own creature in many ways, independent from the mind that created it. I knew a long time ago that there would be a girl called Jasmine and she would weave a tale of her own. I knew it in 2012 when I wrote this sentence in The Demon Bride, from Lucifer to Mary (or Ymari):
“The jasmine is beautiful, isn’t it? The flower of the revolution. Can you smell it, Ymari? The scent of a new power rising?”
Right there. Jasmine's seed was planted right there.
What I never knew completely was how the tale would unfold, and what part of my soul I'd need to delve into to tell it.
Fantasy is a beautiful medium for an author because you can take any real life situation, and wrap it in a coat of a different style and colour to better explore it; to make truths easier to swallow, and sorrows a little less painful to heal from - for your readers as well as for yourself.
My daughter was diagnosed with ASD in 2016, and a lot of the inspiration for Jasmine's character and responses in Aftershock came from how I have experienced this entity that is autism; from how she tries to manage it and how we, as her parents, try to understand it better. Sometimes, it is a monster - an uncontrollable, destructive beast that sees no logic or reason. And sometimes, it's quite the enlightening lesson that teases it is so much more than we know it to be. What's the opposite of a monster? Perhaps something divine. Perhaps something that can lead us all into a future worth having.
But not without first traversing the darkness and battling all the monsters we hold within, of course.
The Witching Pen and Eye of the Storm series are their own stories separate from my daughter's and separate from mine, so Jasmine's story will take a turn my daughter's simply won't. I'm not writing about my daughter, which is why I was in two frames of mind as to whether to post this article at all. Rather, I am writing through the experiences I have had because of her "monster within" and using them as a tool to weave my hopes, dreams and fears into worlds far greater than the current one can be.
The reason I decided to post this, in the end, was because I think anyone who works closely with, or is a parent of, children with such needs as ASD will see the similarities in the story between the layers of fantasy; they'll see the traits. And at the end of the day, even though we all experience everything, including autism, so individually, we're fighting the same battles, and it's nice to feel a little less alone.
However, this is not a story purposely carrying any message outside of the ones for the characters. I was very conscious that I did not want to impose my own thoughts onto Jasmine's story (or with any book I write - I prefer to stimulate questions and debate because life is multi-faceted and there are at least two sides to all things). The thoughts are Jasmine's, Pete's and Claire's. I had to be a detached creator, writing from my heart, but letting every sentence go because the story does not belong to me - it belongs to readers. What you gain from it is for you alone and that's always the way it should be.
As an author, all I really hope for is that my readers are able to take away something from my books, whatever that something might be. Whichever pools of inspiration and experience I delve into when I write, I hope that in this respect I have succeeded, and continue to succeed.
Aftershock will be released on 30th October, 2018.
All information and order links can be found HERE.