Autism, children's fiction, Fantasy fiction, historical fiction, reading, writing, Young Adult fiction

The Autistic Bookdragon

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How do we differ from other bookworms? We may have a very different reading experience than most people, based partly on how we perceive emotions, partly on our personal triggers, and on our preferences for taking in information.

Take yours truly as Exhibit A. I generally don’t read romances, because I simply don’t have a very romantic nature. (Yes, you may think of me as Spock. I consider that a compliment.) I gave up reading murder mysteries because a) oh, the boring and predictable formula, and b) all the yucky gross crime scene/scientific details. (Science has too many big words and concepts that I only partially grasp; and I pass out when I scrape my knee, so hearing all the nitty-gritty on someone else’s murder is just no.)

My favorite genres are fantasy and history, and I definitely prefer YA. This is for several reasons — too much explicit language and/or sexual content makes my skin crawl (in a very bad way). So I pretty much gave up reading adult fiction about 3 years ago. (I’ll make an exception for nonfiction if it’s a subject I’m really interested in.) Also apparently a lot of adults enjoy reading about relationships and jobs, neither of which I am an ace at, not in the traditional sense. The non-relatability becomes a major downer.

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Given that a whole bunch of the world doesn’t think the same way I do, it’s kind of hard to find characters that I can really feel something for, beyond just enjoying their story. There are a few masters of the written word who have produced this in me — Terry Pratchett and Erin Hunter. To give you an idea of what percentage Vulcan I am: I did not cry at the end of The Book Thief, The Raven King, Mockingjay, Allegiant, or A Monster Calls. (I did at least have a lump in my throat, don’t worry, I’m not Khan.) But I will sob actual, messy tears without fail during the climatic scenes of Mort, The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Thud!, and The Last Hope. After finishing Forest of Secrets (Warriors: The Prophecies Begin), I literally could not sleep. (See, I am not a robot.)

I have very little patience for characters whose motivations I cannot understand. If they’re breaking a law out of complete choice, not because there’s no other way to accomplish what they need to do, then I probably won’t finish the book. If they’re too caught up on their crush, when there are so many other nice things in the world waiting for them, I probably won’t like the book. If they make a choice I would never make, then even if it fits the story, I’ll determine I don’t like that character, and often not that author.

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I don’t do well with really long paragraphs full of incredibly descriptive big words — that all could amount to, “Andrew walked into the kitchen, opened a cabinet, and took out a glass.” My brain simply doesn’t comprehend the point of writing this way, nor can I truly imagine all of this stuff. That’s why I like the movie versions, because then I can really visualize what a Hobbit-hole is, or a dais, or just how much treasure Smog is hoarding.

(Yes, I have an IQ of 142, but I can’t whistle or figure out how to use the lawnmower, or determine just what color “puce” is. We all have our flaws.)

So I greatly prefer simplified writing styles, which are most often found in MG-YA novels, since middle-schoolers aren’t expected to know what the word “iridescent” means, or just how a political conspiracy works. And although there’s now the controversy about too many NA novels being labeled YA, I’m mature enough to decide for myself whether I want to read those selections or not. (Most of the time I choose not.)

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And I don’t like literary analysis. It was the major reason I decided not to major in English. I can totally do, “In The Scorpio Races, Puck is worried about her older brother going to the mainland because they’re already orphans, and she’ll feel that she’ll lose him, too, if he leaves the island.” I cannot do, “In The Wednesday Wars, there are several allegories that correspond the Vietnam War directly to rites of passage made by ordinary teenagers.” (White Fang and I read that for a book club, and neither of us got it.)

Before I read a book, I have to hunt down spoilers, because I need to know if there’s anything in it that will set off my triggers. (Among them: gory violence, violence against animals, too much swearing, graphic bedroom scenes, descriptions of surgeries, reptiles featuring prominently, and scenes written from the viewpoint of a drug-induced hallucination.) It’s a bit time-consuming, but worth it, if I can avoid being majorly scarred for a few months afterwards. (Yes, months. One word — Mockingjay.)

For those of you wondering if all of this doesn’t mean I really limit what I read — well, yeah, to a degree, I do. But I am totally okay with that. Having less choices helps cut down on the possibility for overstimulation. And staying in my comfort zone is a must 90% of my life.

So, if you happen to know of some great kids’ authors, pass on the recommendations.


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8 thoughts on “The Autistic Bookdragon”

  1. Hi Daley.

    I do not mean to be crass, but I believe my books are close to your criteria.
    I try to write steampunk/paranormal adventures but they keep coming out humorous. :-/
    My books contain no graphic sex, violence, nor strong language, though Miss Plumtartt says that I accidentally sprinkle them in mild innuendo. I have ten in the series so far. By the time I got to book #6, rhythm and song fill the stories until they are almost Seuss-like, but I think I am closer to Terry Pratchett in style.

    In a World of Alpha Males,
    Ichabod Temperance is the Alfalfa Male.

    Happy Reading!
    Your pal,
    ~Icky. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s me again. Gollum. I hope you don’t mind me popping in now and then.
    I quite agree with you about choice of genre. Myself I am so old, 4,200, that I can’t be bothered with so called adult stuff anymore.
    YA stories are far more creative, inspiring, interesting and a whole host of other adjectives that I cannot remember anymore.
    Reading should be easy to take in otherwise we get bored with it. I don’t mean that we shouldn’t stretch ourselves with Shakespeare now and again but Terry Pratchett is so much easier.
    Anyway back to sleep for me. Nice to “see” you again.
    Gollum xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I get that about adult books and jobs- to be honest, for me, my issue with that is that it comes across as realllly mundane! At least YA books about school will have really absurd things like “a superstar turned up and pretended to be one of us”. But I digress. It was really valuable to read your insight into this. And I love your dragon pics so much here!! Unfortunately my brain is doing that annoying thing where the second someone asks for a recommendation, it’s gone blank!
    (Just reading some of the other comments here as well and word to the wise, if I ever do publish anything, don’t read it- it’s all graphic, overly descriptive and violent- it really, really won’t be for you- and I know that’s probably breaking every self-promo rule there is, but whatever)


    1. Thank you! And thank you even more for your honest evaluation of your own work – I feel really bad when I want to support an author I know, but I just know I can’t read what they wrote. And I don’t want others to think this means that book is low quality, just because it hits my trigger points. Perfect example – I can’t watch R-rated war movies (purely for the violence) – but hey, it’s war, and I get it, and I don’t therefore decide the movie itself is rubbish. My husband watched “Hacksaw Ridge” and loved it. I will just have to believe him it’s a good film.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome!! And I’m glad- I don’t want people to feel like they have to read something I wrote just because it’s me. Or feel bad if it’s not for them. I even didn’t let my sister read a novella I wrote cos it was 90% gore and she’s got a serious phobia of all that stuff. It may be idealistic, but I don’t see the point in pushing my work on people when I know it won’t be to their taste. There are lots of different markets out there, like you said 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Personally I think that’s awesome. There are plenty of people who would read what you wrote if they knew it was a genre/topic/style they were interested in. Not pushing speaks a lot more to honor than anything else, which is more than fine by me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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