This afternoon’s post brings us Nicole Storey who has written a YA story inspired by her family’s experiences with autism. I am honored to have her on my blog speaking about both life and the novel that came from it, Grimsley Hollow – The Chosen One. Please welcome Nicole!
Gwen: Thanks for joining us, Nicole! Tell us a little bit about your story.
Nicole: Grimsley Hollow – The Chosen One is book one of the Grimsley Hollow series. The story’s main character is an autistic boy named Gage. He has always been relatively happy and secure in his life, but craves adventure and friends. He meets a young witch who invites him to her world – Grimsley Hollow – which is in danger. Unknown to him, Gage’s autism gives him special powers and he is the only one who can save this magical world and the fairy-tale beings and creatures who call it home. It is classified as juvenile fantasy and is for kids ages ten and up.
Gwen: Gage, the main character, is autistic. This isn’t a common theme in speculative fiction—the only other novel I can think of offhand that covers this (and it’s definitely not YA) is The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. What kind of response have you gotten from YA readers?
Nicole: The response has been very positive. The character, Gage, is actually my own son. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of three. I wanted to write a book that shows special-needs kids in a true light. Many of the books I’ve read with autistic characters paint them as emotionless or as idiot savants. My hope is when people read this book (especially kids) they realize that special-needs children are no different than they are. I hope they see the similarities in the characters and themselves and will include these amazing kids in their lives. I tried to portray in the book that everyone is different in some way or another – that we all have strengths and weaknesses.
Gwen: Tell us something about Gage that we don’t learn in the story. What’s something that he loves? Something he hates?
Nicole: The character in the book is a fairly true depiction of the real Gage. Something that I have not disclosed in the story yet is that he obsesses over things. It can be anything from a movie to an imagined health problem. It is constant and ever-changing. This month, he really hates storms – although they have never bothered him before. He watches the Weather Channel constantly to see when it might rain. Next month, it could be a video game he has to beat, or a favorite food he wants to eat over and over. We’ve learned to roll with the punches by now! LOL!
Gwen: Some of the most wonderful things about your story are all the details and emotions that you slip in—how Gage has better senses or how his mother often wonders if his life would be easier if he was more disabled. Did you draw from your own life to create a sense of this world? What were some of the challenges you faced in telling this story?
Nicole: Yes, everything (autism related) is absolutely true. I think the most challenging part was how much to put into the book. I didn’t want the reader to become bored or feel that autism was being pushed in their face, but I also wanted to add enough so that everyone would gain some knowledge of the disorder.
Gwen: The Chosen One also has a number of fantastical elements in it, from witches to werewolves to pixies. Do you have a favorite race among them and why?
Nicole: I am a huge fan of Halloween and I love all the beings that represent the holiday. I would have to say that witches are my favorites because of the magic that surrounds them.
Gwen: What plans do you have for future books? Can you share with us a taste of what might be coming up?
Nicole: I have a new short story/novella that’s in the editing process right now. It is a prequel to my first book and is titled Grimsley Hollow – Eve of the Beginning. I also have another book in the series that is due out this fall titled Grimsley Hollow – The Search for Siren. After that, I plan to write a stand-alone novel that’s unrelated to the series. It is a YA Paranormal book.
Gwen: What is the best place for readers to find out more about you and your work?
Nicole: There are several places readers can connect with me and I love to chat with everyone! Here are my links:
Blog: http://nicolestorey.wordpress.com/ (I mostly use my blog for book reviews and updates on my writing).
My books are available in e-format and paperback. They can be found on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Here are the most commonly used links for my books:
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/ru2RLp