Editor’s Note: Make sure you read to the end to get a free copy of Roy’s first book!
Roy Dias has Aspergers Syndrome. He’s also a husband, a father to two sons with Aspergers, and a teacher at a school that teaches English as a second language. Oh, and Roy is an author whose books are promoting autism awareness and acceptance.
Aspeans: The Beginning and Aspeans: The Invasion are, as you can probably guess from the titles, sci-fi tales but what makes them stand out from others in that genre are his Asperger protagonists. Entertaining and original they bring the topic of autism into today’s zeitgeist, making it less ‘issue’ and more…human.
Roy, what prompted you to write your Aspeans series?
Since my oldest son was diagnosed with Asperger’s and subsequently I too was diagnosed with the syndrome, I ended up reading a lot on the subject. I got involved in some support groups on Facebook where everybody shared their difficulties, and where everyone desired the same thing, true acceptance. I then came up with the idea of writing a book in which its main characters had Aspergers. I wanted to tell a story where the reader could put himself in the place of a person with Aspergers to try and promote acceptance and to try to humanize people on the spectrum (I know it’s strange to try and humanize someone by making them aliens, but I thought it made sense, because we are aliens…in a good way). I told my family my idea to write a book and they all laughed. My youngest son said that I had to come up with a great idea first, and then I could start writing. When I told him my Aspeans storyline he responded by saying, “Wow, you’ve got to write the book.”
How was the experience of being an author?
Not an easy question. It has a lot of ups and downs. I loved publishing my first book. The feeling when the postman handed me the first copy of my book was indescribable. But then there’s that feeling of constant doubt, “is it good enough…will it sell?”
Do your wife and boys have anything to say about you as author?
They are really supportive, especially my wife. She’s helped me with some of my plot ideas and promotional ideas too. My eldest son thinks I exaggerated some of the main characters behavior, (I based one of the main characters on him. Actually the whole family is used as the main characters….kind of) but he ended up accepting my explanation, that in doing so, the characters become more vulnerable and consequently more enjoyable.
I’m not very good on writing a synopsis, but here goes:
The first book is about a family from Portugal that has just moved to Seattle. The main character Allan is a polymer engineer and his best friend, George, got him a job in the city. Allan and his two boys have Aspergers which makes adapting even more challenging. After a UFO crashes nearby, their lives change completely. Allan’s best friend, who’s a biomedical engineer is summoned to study the alien body. He notices that the alien has the same particularly odd birthmark as his friend does so he summons Allan to be part of the project. Allan thinks he’s there to study the ship but in reality George is comparing his DNA to that of the alien. When Allan discovers why he is really there, he knows that he and his family are in great danger. Everyone on the spectrum descends from this alien species, and his children in particular, are special and vital for everyone’s survival. Allan has to escape from the military base before the government implements the Aspean001 Dossier. The government wants to identify, trace and sterilize every individual on the spectrum. Allan has to protect his family.
The second book is centered on Allan’s two kids, James and David, who are constantly on the run. The government wants to put everyone on the spectrum into concentration camps to be able to control them and to prevent them from harming humanity. The aliens, on the other hand, want James’ and David’s DNA to create an antidote to be able to enter Earth’s atmosphere and conquer our planet. James ends up being sent to a concentration camp, and as soon as he finds out that his brother David, has been caught by the aliens, he starts planning his escape. He has to rescue his brother and he has to save Earth.
What did you learn from book one that helped you with book two?
I learned a lot in terms of writing. My editor guided me and gave me a lot of pointers that made it easier write Aspeans: The Invasion. The second book has much more action.
What is the reading level of the book—what age range are you targeting?
The books are young adult, so the target is from around 14 to infinity and beyond.
What kind of feedback have you received from people who’ve read your books—in what way have they made a difference?
It has made a great difference, specially the good feedback. When you’re able to get your message across, it’s perfect. But even negative feedback is helpful. I learned a lot from some of the negative feedback.
What message are you hoping that someone takes away after reading your books?
I think the following review from Amazon says it all:
Wonderful story that is so accurate to the life and feelings of Aspies (persons with Aspergers Syndrome) themselves. The story itself is LIGHT and PLAUSIBLE fantasy, with much education thrown in in very light-hearted and/or heart wrenching scenes superbly done by the author. Aspergers Syndrome is little understood by the general public but Mr. Dias has done a superb job of education without pontificating. Watch especially for the scene where ‘The Misfits’ tell each other of their most glaring social blunders and laugh or cry with them. Acceptance and respect is all that the heroes of this novel ask−all that anyone really wants. Well done, Roy Dias.
Are you continuing the series and, if so, when will there be a book three?
Another difficult question. I don’t want anyone to misinterpret what I’m about to say. I really enjoyed writing these books and to be able to get my message across and to positively influence someone’s life is all I ever asked for. But it’s a very expensive hobby. To be able to put out a book worth reading involves editing, formatting, cover design etc. If the book doesn’t sell, you end up investing a lot of money. So to answer your question. If these two books sell at least enough to cover, say 50% of what I’ve invested, I will continue writing, otherwise I just can’t afford it. I’ve made sure the second book ends properly so as not to leave the reader “hanging” but there’s always room for another book. If I could go back in time, would I have still written these books? You bet! I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
As a man with Aspergers and also a father with children on the spectrum, what words of encouragement or advice do you have for other parents?
Another difficult question. Who am I to give advice? Well, one thing I can say is to never give up. Fight for acceptance, demand it in schools, protect your children the best way that you can. There are a lot of people out there that are willing to help. Try not to focus on the negative side. There are a lot of positive sides too.
To purchase the books or discover more about Roy, go to:
- Aspeans: The Beginning on Amazon
- Aspeans: The Invasion on Amazon
- Aspeans Facebook Page
- Roy Dias Website