My most recent children’s book is titled The Kindergarten Adventures Of Amazing Grace: What In The World Is Autism? It is the story of Grace, who goes to Kindergarten with a boy who has autism. Throughout the book she learns all about autism, making friends, and the importance of acceptance.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am currently a nursing student entering my junior year at the University of Arizona. I wrote “The Kindergarten Adventures of Amazing Grace” for my senior culminating project at Eastlake High School in Sammamish, WA.
What inspired you to write this book?
As a high school senior, one of my graduation requirements was to design and complete a year long culminating project on the topic of my choice. My younger brother Trevor was diagnosed with autism at age five, and after realizing how little I actually knew about autism, I felt a book educating other children about autism would be the perfect project.
Over the course of the school year I set out to learn everything I could about autism and translate that information into a language children could understand. I then integrated my research into characters and a story that children would connect with and enjoy. After finishing the writing, Trevor used his artistic talent to create the illustrations.
Though this book is a fictional story, I hope readers will still be able to relate to its message. I hope that by educating children not only about autism, but about all things that make us unique, our society will become a more accepting place for everyone.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I wrote this book for a school project with a strict deadline, and self-publishing allowed me to quickly obtain a tangible copy of my book for the end result of my project. Self-publishing also allowed me to retain the original integrity of the story and illustrations.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I have always enjoyed reading and writing in school and in my spare time. I also recognized the unique ability of children’s books to be equal parts entertaining and educational, and thought writing a children’s book would be the ideal method for getting my message about autism to my audience.
What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?
I believe the hardest part of writing is translating raw information (in this case, information about autism) into a story your intended audience (in this case, children) can understand.
How do you do research for your books?
My research was a combination of reading published documents, observing and working one-on-one with children who have autism, and interviewing experts in the autism field. I also read many on my favorite children’s books, observing the writing styles and illustrations, and analyzing aspects that made them favorites of mine and of so many others.
Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?
The entire process of writing and publishing my first book was a learning process. Through my research I learned about autism and its effect on families, friends, and peers. I learned about the process for self-publishing a book, including creating the layout for the pages and covers. I also had the opportunity to take all I had learned in school about writing stories and incorporate my raw information about autism to create a story children could relate to and understand. I learned how to plan for a long-term goal by dividing my project into three sections – research, writing, and publishing – then further subdividing each section into realistic tasks. I learned to have patience with the evolution of my story which, I found, cannot be rushed. I also learned to have patience with learning how to use the self-publishing system, particularly when it came to perfecting the layout. Finally, I learned to integrate all these lessons in order to turn an abstract idea into something concrete.
What are you reading now?
I am currently reading “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich, and “Look Me in the Eye” by John Elder Robison.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I enjoy most any type of book with good writing, whether it a non-fiction work on current events, a memoir, a classic novel, or something else. I like books in which you feel a personal connection with the author and/or his characters. Some of my favorites include “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Tales from the Bed” by Jenifer Estess, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” by Truman Capote, “Stiff” by Mary Roach, and “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Write on something you are passionate about; it will keep you motivated during laborious the writing and publishing process.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
Currently, my book is on Amazon.com as well as other book sites on the web.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?