There’s so much more to publishing a novel than just writing it. Aside from the regular rigors of writing, rewriting, proofreading, rewriting, editing, and more, an author — with or without a major publishing house behind him or her — has to have a marketing plan in place otherwise the book just sits on the proverbial shelf.
When I first began writing “Knick Knack Paddywhack” back in 2013, a lot was going on in the autism community as chasms between groups grew wider and wider. A new group of autistics had sprung up on the Internet: Self-diagnosed Aspies. For the most part, many were people who had taken the online quizzes a number of times until they were able to cross over the thin blue line from NT to AS. In their wake, the chasm grew even wider.
One of the biggest problems this created was that people were increasing skittish about asking questions that needed to be answered for fear of being targeted for abuse by others in the autism community from parents to awarists, autism advocates to self-diagnosed autistics, and more. But the questions begged to be asked.
Could autistics lie?
Could autistics bully others?
Could autistics tell right from wrong?
As an author, I wondered about that and more. I wanted to know if it was possible for a non-autistic to convince the autism and medical communities that he had autism, and to live that ruse for an extended period of time.
April is Autism Awareness Month and May is Mental Health Month, and so I decided back in 2013 that “Knick Knack Paddywhack” would be released near the end of April to coincide with both awareness months. I didn’t set a specific date other than to earmark publication for the end of April without pegging the year.
Oddly enough, authors usually have an idea as to what year they would like to publish a novel. In this case, it was more important to create three-dimensional characters who reminded readers of people they knew in their real lives. I wanted to craft a story that was compelling with unexpected twists and turns along the way.
And most importantly, I wanted readers to ask questions and to search for the answers to those questions.
A great deal of research went into this book before the first word was put to paper, right down to finding a right name for the main character. When all was said and done, the name Rion McNeally was decided upon because no amount of searching on the Internet yielded that specific name. The same can be said for Aidan Beresford-Smith.
With the release of “Knick Knack Paddywhack” came the launch of the “Save Rion McNeally” blog site. Every day, Rion’s friend Paddywhack does his best to create a safe environment where people can ask and discuss what autism may or may not be without fear of trolling or bullying from those who don’t share their opinion. A Facebook page and a Twitter account were set up as well with Paddywhack at the helm.
Paddywhack is leaving an impression on social media and, indirectly, so is Rion McNeally. People relate to the situation Rion finds himself in and they understand Paddywhack’s concern for his friend. And despite the fact that the blog states that all of this is fictional, the question needs to be asked.
What do we know about Autism Spectrum Disorder and criminality? Studies have proven that autistics are three times more likely to be victims than non-autistics. Autistics are bullied more often than non-autistics. And real life has proven that sometimes autistics knowingly and purposely commit crimes.
STORY SYNOPSIS: Rion McNeally isn’t pleased with how things are going in his life. The trouble with his life is that people keep interfering with his plans. If only they knew just how complicated his life really is! This novel deals with a number of themes including Autism Spectrum Disorder, bullying, and criminal activities.
P.P.S. Watch for the book trailer due out May 2016.