We had the opportunity to interview Elizabeth Jade (her pseudonym), an author on the autism spectrum who’s written an exciting adventure book series for young readers.
Tell us about yourself.
I always knew I had a unique take on life, but I only found out two years ago, at the age of 18, that I had Aspergers Syndrome (an autistic spectrum disorder). People have never made sense to me. In fact, I’ve made a habit of avoiding contact with them as much as possible. On the other hand, I love animals; and what’s more, they love me. We understand each other on an almost telepathic level. This naturalness with animals lead me into volunteering; first with horses, then dogs, and finally cats.
I’ve loved working with animals. It was the people that were the problem. We just didn’t understand each other and at that time I didn’t know about my Aspergers. My mum tried to give me some coping strategies, but I still kept getting confused and, in the end, I got so depressed and anxious that I couldn’t keep it up.
A positive outlet for my depression and anxiety has been in writing stories; animal stories naturally. The stories come pre-written in my head and fight at all hours of the night to make their way onto paper. In an attempt to boost my self-confidence, my mum decided to prove how good my stories were by finding me a publisher for my book Akea – not an easy task. I still have more bad days than not so bad ones and my self-confidence is still pretty low, but I am immensely grateful to all those who continue to support me in doing the things I love most.
Tell us about Akea, The Power of Destiny.
Akea is a Siberian husky who was born into a family of sled dogs and a life which should have followed a predictable path, but from the day she first saw the wolf Kazakh, Akea knew her future lay beyond the safety of her home. She soon leaves her family and with the help of Kazakh and the wolf pack, she finds her inner wolf, but unexpectedly the pack turns on her, casting her out to fend for herself. After spending some time in an animal shelter where she learns the fate of her first family, she is sent to live with a new one, but when Kazakh finds her again, she willingly abandons them too and follows him. Kazakh is well aware of the reason for the wolf packs animosity, but Akea’s destiny is clear and he must make sure she is in the right place at the right time, even if it costs him his life.
What inspired you to write it?
I like to have a picture in front of me of the animal I’m writing about; rather like a visual version of a written character profile. I was searching online for pictures of a dalmatian, when I came across a picture of one with a husky. As I looked at the husky, it was as if she just told me her life story, so I wrote it down. I can’t explain how that works, but it does. My brain then went on to write book 2 and parts of books 3, 5 and 6. It seems I have as much control over what order I write in as when I write it, which is often in the middle of the night.
Who is your illustrator and why was he perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?
My illustrator is Anthony Wallis. I knew that an illustration at the beginning of each chapter would make my book more appealing, so I began trawling through various Facebook groups and expressing my desire to find an illustrator who was looking to expand their portfolio and who would offer a reduced rate in exchange. I believe I had four illustrators who sent in examples of a husky and a wolf and I selected the style and price that best suited my needs. Anthony’s work is amazing; he has captured the feel of the book and he has already started on the first illustration for the second book in my Akea series.
Who is your ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
Although this book is primarily aimed at children in the 8 to 12 category, it could easily be enjoyed by older children and adults as it is written in a mature style with a light touch or read to younger children by their parents. Akea is already being used in a school in America as part of a literacy lesson and I’m looking forward to receiving letters from the pupils. All of my Amazon reviews are from adults and several are from fellow authors, so Akea really does have far ranging appeal.
What do you hope your readers experience from reading your book?
Akea – The Power of Destiny is a powerful tale. It’s a rich tapestry that takes the reader on a journey of adventure, danger, love and self-discovery, and incorporates family values too. It’s a heartening story that will have additional appeal to those who have enjoyed ‘Call of the Wild’ or ‘White Fang’.
As their any other exciting news about the book?
Recently, I decided to show my support for others with autism by donating a copy of Akea to the Somerset Autism Collection at Bridgwater Library, Somerset, UK. It’s a collection of books and DVD’s by both professionals and family members of those with autism, aimed at providing help and support. My book is the first in the collection to celebrate the achievement of someone on the spectrum, rather than supporting them with it. I timed this to coincide with Autism Awareness Week and 3 different newspapers ran my press release. I’ve also include a bit about my autism on my author’s bio.
Do you have a proud moment you’d like to share?
As a result of my recent newspaper story, I was recognised in public by someone who wanted to commend me for speaking up about my anxiety and depression. They have suffered with these issues for years and felt encouraged by my experience. They also spoke about how lucky I am to have a supportive family, and they are absolutely right.
I’ve had some really positive comments from other authors – who I have always thought would be my biggest critics.
What do you want to leave people with after reading this interview?
Akea is a captivating story of self-discovery, loyalty and hope. Once picked up, you will find it impossible to put it down.
Find out more about the book and author:
- Elizabeth Jade website
- Akea Wolf Stories Facebook Page and Goodreads
- @akeawolfstories on Twitter
- @akeawolfstories.author on Instagram
- Get the book on Amazon USA and Amazon UK
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