Autistic Author Interview
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Digital Film and TV Production, Laurie Kennedy found out that he would have to make extreme changes to his living situation if he wanted to pursue a career in film or television. He got cold feet and also felt it wasn’t his true calling to be a director. Instead, he developed an expertise in designing and distributing digital media and began to use his skills in marketing and advertising.
“I spent 4 years making flyers, infomercials, website imagery, writing news articles and more and really wanted to produce something more artistic that I had full control of. I wrote a book about something that means a lot to me, mental health, namely awareness of negative thoughts and feelings and how we experience them.”
Tell us about Positively Negative.
Positively Negative: Putting Discouraging Thoughts to Good Use is four intertwining short stories about young adults living with their negative thoughts and feelings that manifest as bothersome monsters that latch onto them to bring them down.
The story is short, sweet and mostly illustrated to visually tell a story of developing inner strength and suggesting the positive sides of negativity.
What inspired you to write it?
I always felt misunderstood in the way I perceive the world around me. I get terrible anxiety and I feel sometimes that others don’t understand how much it both physically and mentally affects me. The same goes for other negative feelings such as feeling overwhelmed, having poor self-image and harsh self-doubt.
“I wrote the book to raise awareness of those who daily suffer from negative feelings, how it can feel and how we can learn to overcome this negativity and turn it into positive motivations.”
I also am not much of a heavy reader myself and I very much see the power of visual storytelling, which I have developed by making short funny comic strips and posting them on Instagram.
How does being autistic influence your writing?
The great side of being autistic is that I have been endlessly motivated with the book and been extremely meticulous in the illustration side of things. I have designed over 50 different monsters for use in the book, of which I have used only 10. I have a keen eye to detail and have been through endless revisions of the story, the characters and designs.
I have also been extremely methodical in the way I have sold the book, making spreadsheets, setting goals and calculating the price of every little detail; although this may sound like a chore, this has actually been one of the most satisfying tasks for me.
My creative mind often runs away with me and I always need to be focused on a project. For example, I really wanted to make a video about my book, so I created a promotional video for it a few days later spending many hours focused on it.
Who did the illustrations?
I illustrated the book myself but I decided to invest in an editor for my book. I looked at a few different editors but Anita Dawood seemed to best understand the themes and story I was trying to tell. She is hardworking and really helped the book to be so much more powerful.
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
I think this book is best for those aged 12+ as a way of understanding their emotions and regaining motivation in themselves when they feel weakened by them. It’s a short book that is quick to read, and reminds the reader that negativity doesn’t have to define or destroy you.
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
“I want readers to understand negativity in itself is not bad and has a genuine reason to be in your life. I really hope that it can allow readers to possibly externalise their inner negativity monsters and be more mindful.“
What makes you feel proud about self-publishing?
This is my first book and I’m so happy to call myself a published author. When I sign my books, it still feels so surreal to me. I can’t get into my head that I actually have published a book!
I have heard a lot great feedback already and it’s barely been out 2 weeks. People have been sending me pictures of their negative monsters, some have said that their kids have fallen in love with the book and some have said they have felt motivated to write themselves after seeing it.
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
Everyone is experiencing the world in a different way, so always be kind and understanding. If someone is struggling and wants to talk, just listen and if they don’t talk, just let them know you’re there.
What words of encouragement can you offer to other autistic creatives?
Get creative, get writing that book idea you thought of, and enjoy your time drawing and writing. Don’t let that little ‘no voice’ in your ear tell you to give up. The only thing that separates you from your goal is time and effort; you will get there and it will feel magnificent!
How can people connect with you?
I made the illustrations in the book simple and replicable so that others can draw their own and to encourage creativity. If you draw anything please send me it to [email protected]. I love seeing other people’s monster drawings and will happily post it to my Facebook page if they want it.
Also, I have recently founded The Faraway CIC, which is a non-profit organisation funding employment support for autistic individuals across North East Lincolnshire. It’s funny to think that in the end I actually became a director, just not of film, but of helping autistic people to realise their goals and achieve them!
- Buy the book on Amazon UK (will ship to US): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Positively-Negative-Putting-Discouraging-Thoughts/dp/1838026304
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/positivelynegativebook
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/someartfromearth
- Facebook (The Faraway CIC): https://www.facebook.com/thefarawaycic
- Twitter (The Faraway CIC): https://twitter.com/TheFarawayCIC
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