GUEST POST by ELIZABETH JADE
My name is Elizabeth Jade, and I’m a children’s author and animal lover. I was born in the UK in 1998. My early schooling didn’t go well, and I was home-schooled from the age of seven. I stumbled into writing at fourteen when I struggled increasingly with depression and anxiety, but it wasn’t until I was eighteen that I discovered my struggles in school were due to Aspergers—an autistic spectrum disorder.
I always knew I had a unique take on life. People have never made sense to me. In fact, I still make a habit of avoiding contact with them as much as possible. I’ve always had a natural connection to animals and have volunteered in a number of animal rescues in my area. I believe animals make much more sense than people. That’s probably why the main characters in my current books are wolves and huskies.
I published my first book, ‘Akea -The Power of Destiny’ in 2017. Although it’s target age is 7-11, it’s definitely not just for that age group. A number of parents have enjoyed reading it to their younger children and I’ve had some really encouraging reviews from adults too. The story is told through the eyes of the young husky, Akea. It’s a compelling ‘coming of age’ story which examines the importance of loyalty and friendship, and shows that being different doesn’t mean you can’t belong.
Akea is born into a family of sled dogs, but there is something unique about her. Her father captures it best when he surmises: “Akea was different from the other pups. She felt special even though he didn’t know why.” Akea senses this difference when she first sees a lone wolf by the name of Kazakh. It’s then she realizes that her true destiny lies beyond the relative safety of her sled dog family. Kazakh’s role is to help her discover her place in the world, but doing so goes against the rules and norms of wolf society and could even cost him his life.
‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ came into existence purely by accident. Like many people with autism, I get easily overwhelmed with too much information, so rather than have written character profiles, I prefer to have visual ones. I search the internet for photos that ‘feel right’ for my main characters, and I keep these in front of me when I’m writing. While searching for a dalmatian picture for a story I planned to write, I came across one of a dalmatian with a husky. It felt as if the husky was telling me her story and I felt compelled to write it down. Incidentally, the dalmatian story was never written.
I was so inspired by the story arc that I went on to write the sequel which I hope to have published later this year. I’ve also written parts of a 4th, 5th and 6th book, and have ideas for several more. I’m fortunate to be able to jump in and out of each of these books without getting confused. I’m a compulsive multi-tasker anyway. I’m usually researching, writing and watching random YouTube videos at the same time. I think this is one of the advantages of having a form of autism. One of the disadvantages of autism is my difficulties with people. I can’t handle the usual school’s visits or author events that many children’s authors use to reach their target audience. This makes marketing a bigger challenge for me than it already is for most authors.
Like my main character, Akea, many of those on the autistic spectrum understand what it means to be different. For us to be true to ourselves undoubtedly requires a certain amount of courage. For me, having Aspergers and mental health issues can make life a real challenge, but with the right support, I was able to make my dream of becoming an author come true.
I have included my autism diagnosis in the author bio on the back of my book and mentioned it in various newspaper articles and guest blogs. I’ve also donated copies of ‘Akea’ to the Somerset Autism Collection at a number of libraries in our area. ‘Akea’ is the first book in the collection to celebrate the achievement of someone with autism rather than supporting them with it.
There are lots of talented people out there, including many who are on the autistic spectrum, and I want to inspire them to pursue their dreams too.
‘Akea – The Power of Destiny’ is available as a paperback or e-book from Amazon - http://a.co/d/gpwHkF1 or via www.elizabethjade.org Here you can keep up to date with Elizabeth through her blog or download the first chapter of the next book in the series.
There are three dramatic readings available on YouTube: https://goo.gl/gvrU1A and if you would like to follow Elizabeth on social media, you can do so here:
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