There’s no reason for the subject to be spelt wrong. It just made me laugh. I am a nerd.
I think most writers probably have certain themes that follow them through their stories. Character traits, or backstories, or tropes we can’ t help using. Often times, we might not even realise we do it.
It’s a question I’ve had on my mind for a while now.
What are the ones to follow me through my writing?
Here are the ones I thought about (and maybe why):
- Adoption – I’ve had a few characters who were adopted, or orphans, or foster kids. It’s probably because I’m adopted, so there’s a wealth of emotional stuff there I can explore.
- Autistic Characters – I’m autistic. That one is:
- Pets. All the pets. So many pets. From Taine’s hamster to Sherlock in After the Scrum. I’m a fan of memorable animals.
- Absurd moments. I find absurdity humourous. (Like giving a large rugby player a hamster for a pet.)
- Rough childhoods. A theme running through many of my stories are characters who have survived abusive or neglectful childhoods. Again, as something I had personal experience with, I think it’s important that not ALL of your characters have blissful, amazing parents. I’ve found as a reader that I cherish the books that I can relate to. When I find a character who has pulled through terrible times as a kid, I see a bit of myself.
- Nerds. I’m quite a bit geeky, so admit to giving some of those quirks to my characters.
How about you? If you’re a writer, do you notice certain themes consistent throughout your different novels?
As a reader? Do you pick up on these sorts of things?
Despite mainstream media and their mostly dismal attempts at creating autistics. It’s rare to see examples of autistic characters who feel ‘real.’ We’re not all rain man or white, young, male savants.
We’re real people who are just as diverse as every other subset of humanity.
Many autistics like myself will tell you if you’ve met one autistic–you’ve met one autistic.
When creating neuroAtypical characters, I try to be cognizant of creating individuals, and not carbon copies of either myself or some stereotype I think non-autistics will easily recognise. I will admit many of my own experiences find their way into my stories. How could they not?
In fact, one of my favourite parts of writing my most recent release, The Lion Tamer, was including Alex and Alice. Autistic twins. They’re on different parts of the autism spectrum with their own special interests and struggles.
Neither of them is some off the charts genius.
They’re just autistic.
No massively high IQ required to be legitimate human beings who deserve to be celebrated.
So, here are a few tips on creating autistic characters, or what are some of the pieces/parts to doing so. (And please keep in mind, this is from my personal perspective.)
- Talk to #actuallyautistic people, not just autism parents before you start.
- Avoid AutismSpeaks.
- Stimming. Your autistic character should have a stim. We stim.
- Special Interests. I could write an entire post about this. We have them. Obsess over them. Use them to calm ourselves from super stressful moments.
- Emotions are something many autistics struggle with. We can feel quite intensely, but we don’t often understand what we’re feeling. I’ve spent days trying to decipher an emotion before.
- Sensation. Many autistics suffer from hypersensitivity. I, for example, struggle with touching certain fabrics. Light affects me. Certain sounds can trigger me into a meltdown.
Just a few thoughts.
Not sure if any of it is helpful.
I might turn this into a series of posts about being autistic/writing autistic characters.
Do you include neuroAtpyical characters in your stories? Do you have characters who have anxiety, or PTSD, or are autistic? Or some other mental disability or illness?
This is a conversation I’ve had with my hubby three times in the last seven days.
Hubby: What are we watching tonight?
Me: The Olympics.
Hubby: Again? Seriously? Isn’t anything else on?
It’s fair to say I’ve watched the Olympics all day, every day since the opening ceremony. I’ve seen everything from curling (which I swear was invented by drunken, bored Scotsmen) to snowboarding to figure skating. The Winter Olympics are always my favourite.
I’m taking a few lessons away from the athletes as well. I thought I’d share them.
- Never give up. Even if you fall on your face, you might still win in the end if you keep going.
- Tune out the critics (even if it’s your own self-doubt.)
- Sometimes winning comes without a medal. Set your own definitions for success.
- No matter how inspired. I’ll never be a figure skater. I’d probably maim myself in the attempt. lol
- Find joy in what you’re doing.
How about you? Are you enjoying the Olympics? What’s your favourite event so far?
Friendship is really one of the themes that connect the Sin Bin series.
Strong friendships run through each novel in the series. Relationships that are strong enough for friends to become family. The Lion Tamer is no different. In fact, it might be the story where those connections are even more important.
Scottie & Gray both suffered through terrible childhoods. In their experiences, blood family have hurt them more than anyone else. It’s their friends who gather around them to support them.
One of my favourite friendships in the entire series is actually the one that has developed between Gray and Alice & Alex, the autistic twins who first appear in The Royal Marine.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- Is there anything better than watching as hard-as-nails marine become gentle and kind?
- Alice and Alex have gained an immense amount of confidence from it.
- Origami parties. The visual. The visual is priceless.
- Snow angels. (You’ll have to read The Unexpected Santa to see why.)
Do you enjoy platonic relationships in romance novels?
What’s your favourite non-romantic relationship in The Sin Bin?
Or, How Jane Austen Inspired My Gay Romance
One thing Saint Jane did brilliantly in all her novels was absurd humour and painfully human characters. She exposed the frailty of human ego. She made you cringe at painfully awkward proposals while you rooted for her heroines to find their true love.
When I wrote After the Scrum, my first Gay Romance, I used her approach to characters and humour. The story is filled with irreverent humour. I used my observations of human nature as an autistic to form many of the slightly zany villagers of Looe. It certainly made for lively characters.
I hope my beloved Saint Jane would approve.
The other way Austen’s novels have shaped my writing is in showing the path of love is rarely smooth sailing. You only have to look at the tribulations of Anne Elliot in Persuasion (my favourite of her novels). The Wanderer and The Caretaker, in particular, show how matters of the heart can be equal parts pleasure and pain.
When I first considered this post, I’d wanted to write about why readers should dip their toes in the Gay Romance genre—and my novels of said genre. As you can see, I got a bit distracted. A lot distracted.
The thing is if you love absurd humour, witty banter, and love stories, you’ll enjoy my novels.
If you love great romances, you’ll enjoy the Gay Romance genre.
The love is the same—it’s just two men snogging.
And it’s good snogging as well.
Here’s to 2018. Let’s hope it’s a far better year than 2017 turned out to be.
Happy New Year!
My publishing and writing year are stacking up to be quite busy, which makes me scared and happy at the same time.
As it stands, I hope to write:
- a cozy/cottage mystery gay romance novella trilogy
- a holiday standalone novel
- start a new gay romance series featuring EMT
And what’s on schedule to be published through Hot Tree this year?
- The Lion Tamer (Sin Bin Novel)
- The Blacksmith (Novella)
- Haka Ever After (Sin Bin Short – the last of the series)
- One Last Heist (Standalone Novel)
- Three as yet untitled novellas. Series title: Grasmere Cottage Mystery Trilogy
What are your goals for this year?
If you’re a writer, do you have word count goals or just goals for the novels you want to pen?
If you’re a reader, do you have a certain number of books you’d like to have read by the end of the year?
So, let’s be honest with ourselves, 2017 has been of a garbage fire of a year in the world around us. It’s been difficult to concentrate on being creative as a writer, particular as I write happy endings. It’s hard to be upbeat, but it’s important to do so.
My writing year was a busy one. I had three novels and two short stories published this year with Hot Tree Publishing. I also wrote three novels, three short stories, and a novella. I’ve essentially wrapped up an entire series in a year.
My end of the year word count: 206, 436 (not including the multiple flash fictions I wrote.)
Can I have a nap now?
I’m proud of the work I’ve done this year.
Proud of myself.
The Sin Bin series has been written. Next year the last of the books will be finished. I love my rugby lads and I’m sad I’ll be saying goodbye to them.
But…but…I’m looking forward to the stories I want to write in 2018, though I’ll share more on that in another post. But a sneak peek, I’ll be working on a cozy mystery novella trilogy among other things.
How are you feeling about what you’ve accomplished this year? Did you meet your goals?