• rgharis

MA dissertation handed in and I'm a paid, published author!

I'd like to say I'm relieved I've handed in my work, but the remainder of my novel is pressing. For my MA I have written and edited 17 chapters of my historical fiction novel about an autistic child in an asylum in 1950s, USA. I now must complete it. The rest of the novel involves a lot of accurate, historical detail ie a young psychiatrist diagnosing autism when it was such an unknown. I'm so much more comfortable with the creative part of writing than I am the detail. Typical ENFP!!

My MA dissertation has been an enormous help in analysing how to create an autistic child's voice. I examined contemporary autistic fiction with both male and female protagonists. I was surprised to find girls are still presented as savant, mathematical geniuses. I perceived a difference between authors who had a child with autism, had autism themselves and those who had worked with autistic children. Nancy, my autistic child character, speaks from a position of my imagination around my own autistic daughter's voice. She was silent as a child. I have subconsciously included a lot of references to Mama, as did Karen B. Golightly in There are Things I Know, as the refrigerator mother trope needs to be eradicated. Cynthia's fight for Nancy's release from the asylum dispels this lie from her persona!

My autistic daughter appears in a story I've written called Doctor's Appointment. It is a narrative about the power of the kindness of health care providers in their daily work, those little things that can be life-changing to our patients. A smile, an acknowledgement, even the positioning of chairs in the clinic setting. It will be published in an illness anthology early next year, published by Sarah Sasson. I leave you with the wonderful Sarah Hendrickx talking about atypical autism and the problem with 'you don't look autistic to me.'

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