Darren Groth is a Vancouver author and “new-ish” citizen of Canada, having moved from his native Australia in 2007. His novels include Kindling, published by Hachette in 2010 and released in Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan; and his most recent YA work, Are You Seeing Me?, published by Random House Australia and released in Canada and the US through Orca Book Publishers.
Darren’s novels have gained recognition and have won many prestigious awards including the CBCA Book of the Year (Australia), the International Youth Library’s White Raven Book Collection (Germany) and the Governor General’s Literary Awards (Canada).
Darren has fourteen year old twins, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. He creates characters and interesting storylines inspired by his children.
Tell us about your new YA Fiction book, Are You Seeing Me?
The book explores the relationship of Justine and her autistic twin brother, Perry, on a trip through the Pacific Northwest. It’s been a year since they watched their dad lose his battle with cancer. Now, at only nineteen, Justine is the sole caregiver for her autistic brother. But with Perry having been accepted into an assisted-living residence, their reliance on each other is set to shift. Before they go their separate ways, they’re seeking to create the perfect memory.
For Perry, the trip is a glorious celebration of his favorite things: mythical sea monsters, Jackie Chan movies and the study of earthquakes.
For Justine, it’s a chance to reconcile the decision to ‘free’ her twin, to see who she is without her boyfriend, Marc – and to offer their mother the chance to atone for past wrongs.
What inspired you to write it?
I am the father to two children, one with autism. Are You Seeing Me? is a gift to my daughter. She was due a book – my previous novel, Kindling, was a gift to my son. (By the way, all of my books are gifts for my beautiful wife). When I first started considering what to write, I kept coming back to a message I hold dear for my daughter: ‘You should never feel like you must be your brother’s keeper. Love him, as he loves you, but live your own life to its fullest.’
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
I think the book has lots of ideal readers – young and old, commercial and literary, the autism community and ‘regular’ society. I hope the book is NOT used as a doorstop. 😛
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
My character, Perry, has much wisdom to share, but I’ll go with ‘We cannot live in a world of one.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your books?
I just hope that if they find readers’ hands, they connect in meaningful ways.
Do you have a proud moment, inspirational story, or moving fan feedback you’d like to share?
A few emotional fans have shared that they, like Justine in the novel, have a sibling with autism. The book’s connection with them has been a particularly rewarding part of the literary journey for me.
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
When encountering difference, be open-minded, open-hearted and open-spirited.