No Map to This Country
I heard you fumble over your kids' names in an interview, and even say the wrong name once. What gives?
The publisher suggested that I change their names for the book, which was great advice—most importantly because all new releases these days are fully indexed by Google Books. This means that actual passages from the text would have been the first search result on their names for the rest of their lives. Neither kid has any sense of discretion (proof of their maternal lineage, if ever it was in doubt,) and they in fact were angry when I told them about the impending name change, because they were proud of the challenges they'd overcome and didn’t want anyone else getting the credit. So we compromised, and used their middle names.
I tried to look up some of the doctors and therapists you talked about in the book, and half of them don't exist.
If I had to change the names of people I like, you better believe I had to change the names of people I was less than charitable toward. We also flipped a few genders and other identifying traits on anyone who hadn’t given me specific permission to talk about them.
Will you come speak to our club/organization about autism?
I'd be happy to, with the caveat that my stance is one of treatment, and some folks get mad when you suggest that there's anything to be improved in the life of a person with autism. If you read the book without swearing at me, then it should be fine.
I have a friend/relative with an autistic child, how can I help them?
As I'm sure you've discovered, nagging folks about how to raise their kids is a losing proposition. If I knew how to convince people in a single conversation, I wouldn't have had to write a whole book about it. The best I can say is be there for them, offer to take on as much of the work as you can, and forgive their imperfections. It's harder than it looks.
I have an autistic child, and I feel overwhelmed. Where do I start?
If you only do one thing, make it the Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Where do I find a doctor who will be supportive of medical treatment? Where do I find studies to convince my current doctor, who is open-minded but unfamiliar with autism?
The Autism Research Institute (www.autism.com) is the best place to go for peer-reviewed information from reliable practitioners.
How do you get a book published?
First you have to write it. Every time I've been asked this question, it’s from someone who hasn't actually written their book yet. Wistfulness will get you nowhere—if you're serious about writing, then you have to be your own cheerleader. Write every single day, and finish the dang book.
But writing a book is really hard!
I guess so. I mean it's not easy, but it should be enjoyable. If it isn't that way for you, maybe reevaluate whether you dream of "writing," or "being a writer." The latter has a miasma of romantic notions floating around it, most of which are false. The former is a non-negotiable prerequisite. Write every single day, and finish the dang book.
Okay, I wrote a book. Now, how do I get published?
Google "query letter," and toss in a search for "proper manuscript format" while you’re at it. This information is widely available on the internet, and if you don't have the motivation to hunt it down, you won't have the motivation to slog through dozens of boiler-plate rejections, either. Understand that even the most brilliant authors spend months or years trying to wedge their toe in the door, so while you're still out there rapping your knuckles bloody… keep writing every single day, and finish your second dang book.
Do you really have a pet spider?
Yes, we've had a series of tarantulas (and also snakes, many years ago.) The kids disagree on what the current spider is named, however. The younger ones call him Anansi, but the teenager finds that name "cliché" and calls him Harvey, because harveyi is a common species suffix for burrowing spiders.
Do you ever write fiction?
Being successful in any job requires knowing what you're good at. So, no. Besides, I can get away with so much more in nonfiction. Most of what happens in this world would be patently unbelievable if you tried to pass it off as fiction.
Why don't you participate more on social media?
Self-promotion makes me literally nauseous. Plus, as a user, I find social media to be simultaneously addicting and unsatisfying. Once again, it helps to know what you're good at, and my time is definitely better spent making quality stuff that stands on its own merits. If you liked something I made, you tell someone—they'll believe you more than they would me, anyway.
[New Title Coming Soon!]
© Copyright Jennifer Noonan 2017