Hi Jason, thank you for joining us today at Reader Views. Tell us a little about your writing journey. (When did you start writing? Have you always wanted to be an author? What made you decide to actually sit down and write a book?)
I actually started writing when I was about eight or nine years old and I wrote a letter to my Dad from Swiss Croft Camp in Wisconsin where my maternal grandparents live. It was on a special paper with sections and extra thick spaced lines, I was so happy to send it to my Dad, and he hung it on the wall in the room where he grew up in my Paternal grandparents’ house. He was so proud he taped it to the off-color walls in his room he was staying while he was working for one of his companies.
Have I always wanted to be an author? Not really. It takes a lot of effort to control the grammar, syntax, and punctuation properly. I always have had difficulty with this part of writing. I just decided one day to take the journals I had written when my Dad was alive and instructing me on how to live my life, and I just kind of organized the text in a more manipulative way than most writers, but it was my own writing when I was confused about life growing up.
What made me decide to actually sit down and write a book? I basically decided my Dad was not coming back till I see him in heaven. So I wanted people to know what a wonderfully productive man he was to me. He helped me with social security and helped my family live a good life and not need to struggle. He tried to teach me to struggle like he did, and I’m trying in the next book to capture the mental health struggles that people go through on the streets from my interpretation.
What is “My Life Inspiring Journal: My Journey through Autism and Mental Issues” about?
In a candid style, I tell some stories and some structures I’ve lived with in my life to help me get by in this neurotypical world and I think this book equates the pain I’ve felt adapting to the norms of society and what path that I have taken to try to overcome these differences in processing information around me.
What inspired you to write “My Life Inspiring Journal: My Journey through Autism and Mental Issues?
I wasn’t ready to write a lot of new material about my life growing up. It turned out I took a few journals with writing on it and I had Daniel Akpojiyovwi of DanielBookDesign and Pamela Greer of Pamela Greer Editing help me type the longhand writings and put it in a formatted form, which entails using proper spacing and playing with fonts a bit. I continued to remove parts about Social Security Notes which my Dad already had taken care of when he applied for Social Security. I was in the system now and my Social Security Number was connected to my Dad’s Social Security number. This enabled me to receive about $1000 to live on which was great because I also had gotten a Section Eight voucher. With a little over $200 going to rent and being able to spend the rest on food, and whatever I thought I wanted or needed. Life is good!
How has your personal journey with autism and bipolar disorder influenced the narrative of this book?
I have always had difficulty deciding what characteristics are from autism and which characteristics are bipolar. I think my book joins both consciousnesses and you get what is a “stream of consciousness” of me being in my head and not really in my head if that makes sense. I talk to myself, but I don’t pray very often to God. It takes a little imagination to enter my world and understand my dialogue, and I didn’t really script it out it just flows from my experiences.
Can you share a particular instance from the book where you feel your unique perspective as an autistic person is best captured?
My desire to have a girlfriend is talked about a little in the book “being a plaything of some Hispanic chick” or something like that. Also, when I go to the movies and pretend to be on a date. I think it is a human desire for closeness and intimacy, but not being able to really interact in a way that I could sustain another person in a relationship makes me desire to think about what closeness might look like. I don’t think of people in terms of connections on an emotional level like kissing and having sex, but I feel the pressure to be “neurotypical.”
Who is your target audience? Will all age groups benefit from reading your book? Why (or why not)?
I’ve struggled with this question, and I don’t really think I’ve decided on a group of people best suited to my book. I was kind of depending on Reader Views to help me determine my “target audience”. I think younger readers may benefit from the direct style of writing I present, and older adult readers will also benefit because they have nephews and nieces, and other relatives that are on the “spectrum”.
How did you go about explaining the experiences and emotions related to autism in a way that younger readers could easily understand?
I didn’t really think specifically about younger readers when I wrote or compiled my book. I think I’m a little confused about the emotions evoked in explaining the experiences as I’ve not read it straight through, and I depend on the interpretations of others interpreting my book and I feel that it was definitely divinely inspired and I am having trouble duplicating the effort for a second book on more about the issues of mental health in the structure of my Mom and Dad’s life growing up with them.
What do you hope teens and their families will learn about autism from reading your book?
I hope teens and their families will learn you can’t fix or cure autism, and that it is a wonderful bit of neurodiversity that is only getting more prevalent as time goes on.
How do you think your book might offer hope to individuals facing similar challenges as yours?
I think any relatable strength whether emotional or ideological can only help further the cause and developing minds in the autistic community further than it already is.
Can you talk about how your book helps older kids understand social norms and better communicate with those around them?
I think it talks about work and relationships from my underdeveloped perspective and the social norms it brings to light is interacting with all different kinds of people and communicate with them in respectful ways that don’t stereotype people or exclude them from the community.
What kind of conversations about neurodiversity do you hope your book will start?
That is a very noble goal and was definitely not my dream to be able to do. However, understanding Ramsey as a Black man is merely a window into my mind and my perceptions about others I’m intrigued by. I think Ramsey is a mixture of people that may cross my path and the barbershop setting just was my way of including a part of culture I thought I had a handle on.
What message would you like other differently-abled individuals to take from your story?
I want them to not be afraid to try to interact with people different from themselves and be open to make communities more neurodiverse than the ones they already belong to. If differently-abled individuals are isolated I hope they find solace in knowing they aren’t alone and others want to be included in their process of thinking.
What kind of feedback have you received from your reading audience?
I have received many great comments of support from friends and family and I’m trying to expand the readership to people that I don’t know personally. This is the main reason I’m doing this written interview which will be formed into a podcast. Also, I plan to put it on my website at perseveracycle.com.
How have your family and friends supported your writing journey?
In all respects friends and family have been the main people who have bought my book at the book signings I have done over the last six months. They also have provided reviews on Barnes and Noble and I have a couple of reviews on Amazon. My main support came from freelancers which are Daniel and Pam which allowed me to proceed with the publishing of this book. For only a thousand dollars I completed this book to be sold. Keeping track of sales has been difficult, but I think my sales have sold 50 to 75 books with a total profit of 500 to 750 dollars.
What do you like to read?
I enjoy small books on the struggle of underdogs and people that seem to be underestimated by their fellow man. I also like science fiction and fantasy. I enjoy self-help articles and books that deal with behavioral subject matter.
What do you like to do outside of writing?
I like to have great meals at restaurants with friends and family. I am an accomplished juggler. I like trying to fix simple gadgets. I like doing artwork. I enjoy getting counseling. I really enjoy being a published author.
What future plans do you have for promoting neurodiversity and inclusion? Are there more books on the horizon?
I’ve thought about putting a book on mental illness together and I am in the process of copying journals and trying to come up with a story to tell or simply construct a book of pieces of my experience and just let the work speak for itself without a lot of editorial development. I think it will be based on a couple of journals, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll add more to it later on.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to let the reader know it took me multiple sittings and about a month to complete this list of questions. I hope it offers a window into my mind, and makes the participant want to read my book. Thank You for this opportunity to express myself!