All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there...Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison...I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

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03 October 2011

World Autism Interviews: Katie Bridges/Vancouver, Washington

Katie Bridges is a full time writer who lives in Vancouver, Washington. By full time writer, she means she hardly ever stops writing. Whether she's working on a piece of fiction or writing a letter of encouragement to someone, she's always at her computer typing away. She also enjoys hiking and nature. Children’s science books are another favorite. In fact, she's quite addicted to them and has a huge assortment she's collected over the years. Between writing, she spends time with my family, giving a great deal of care to her grandchildren. Together, they love to star gaze late at night and talk about the latest scientific discoveries. Check out Katie's website at warriorsoftheedge.com

E: Congratulations on Warriors of the Edge! Give us a quick synopsis, plus tell us where we can go to find out more and/or place and order.

Katie: Tarek Ortzen wants what any twelve-year-old kid wants, a day to himself so he can play games in his gaming booth. He gets his chance when he signs up for the role of Stone in the latest war game, Warriors of the Edge. He figures the game will help him escape the real world and its troubles. But after one day of nonstop play, Tarek wishes he'd never heard of Warriors of the Edge. The game has brought nothing but trouble into his life.

When the game begins to blur the line between reality and fantasy, Tarek finds himself caught between those who believe in the game and those who oppose it. Is the game trying to warn him of danger or lead him into it? Tarek doesn't know who to believe.

As Tarek's home world faces the threat of destruction, he must determine whether the character he plays can make a difference in their real lives.

To find out more, visit warrriorsoftheedge.com or order a copy through Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

E: What do you love most about the writing process?

Katie:  I love the way writing takes me to another place and time, far from my present reality. Reading does the same thing for me. I can be sitting in my house on a hot summer day and suddenly, I’m stuck in a snowstorm on a dangerous mountain top. The more descriptive the book, the more I’m swept in to that world. The difference between reading about a picturesque scene and writing it myself is that the imagery has a more powerful effect on me when I’m the one writing it. In order to produce a descriptive scene, I must enter fully into it. It has to be real to me. As I step into the scene, I’m looking around at the scenery. I’m seeing every detail. I’m observing whatever my characters might be experiencing in that moment. I’m literally feeling the impact of what is taking place there. If it’s a tender scene, I will have a big smile on my face. If it’s scary, I will likely be biting my lower lip. If it’s cruel, my forehead will be furrowed in wrinkles. If it’s humorous, I can be heard laughing out loud. I allow myself to go deep into that experience so that it feels real.

One of the scenes I’ve created for Warriors of the Edge involves a transfer station. It is much like an airport, except it takes you from one dimension to another. I have walked through that transfer station countless times. I can tell you what the entrance looks like, how wide the aisles are, and how crowded it is, depending upon the time of day. I have traveled from one point of that transfer station to the other. I’ve seen things going on in there that aren’t mentioned in my book. Because I always see more than I end up writing about, I’m able to experience my scenes more fully than my readers. This is the advantage of writing. Writing for me is an experience that makes life richer. I feel as though I know what it’s like to travel through space or descend into the depths of the ocean, all because I’ve written about it. 
E: Do you feel being on the autism spectrum gives you a unique viewpoint of life that comes through in your writing?

Katie: Absolutely! Growing up, I had a very limited way of thinking, mostly due to how repetitive my mind was. I would get one thought stuck in my head and I would repeat it for days on end, being unable to think of anything else during that time. It didn’t allow me to catch on to other things going on around me. My world existed of that one thought. In the beginning stages of my life, this was a problem for me. I wasn’t able to learn as quickly as others because I wasn't taking in as much input as they were. But that “problem” also held great potential for an advanced thought life. It was by thinking on one thing for long periods of time that I was able to expand on that thought and figure out all that it entailed. It was my way of studying something to the inth degree. Eventually, after a few years, I would become an expert on that thought and then I would move on to other thought. I’ve kept up this pattern throughout my life so that I now have quite a collection of ideas and concepts I’ve developed along the way. This brings much flavor to my writings and adds to the details I come up with.

Another advantage I have in my writing is that I see pictures in my mind all the time. Those pictures tell me stories. It will happen in a flash. In a split second, an image will flit through my mind and an entire scene will unfold before me. I can see it so clearly that it’s easy to write up what I’ve seen.

I view everything with a questioning, analytical mind, always probing deeply, but I’m also quite emotional, and so I put a lot of emotion into my findings. This enables me to describe a scientific scene with feeling. I may not be well suited to laboratory work, but this combination of traits is perfect for fiction writing.

E: What advice do you have for aspiring writers who have disabilities who might feel intimidated by writer's agents, the publishing world, and the press?

Katie: Facing a myriad of responses from all sorts of different people can be tough, especially if you’re easily intimidated. You need a way to compensate for this difficulty. The best way, I’ve found, is to surround yourself with supportive voices who can keep you encouraged during this process. What makes it even tougher is that there are people nowadays who don’t hesitate to speak forcefully or even hurtfully to others. I grew up in an era when adults would say, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Most people abided by that rule, more or less. It’s not so much that way anymore. When I’ve been unfairly criticized or handled in a rough way, I’ve gone to people who will speak out the opposite of that so they can undo the hurtful word I’ve heard. Then I cling to that and do my best to shrug off the negative remark. The more positives you can collect, the more you will be cushioned from these blows. You might want to write out the positives and keep them posted where you can see them. Anything that works for you, go for it.

My mother used to say, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.” It’s helpful to prepare yourself ahead of time so that nothing takes you by surprise. If you have a realistic expectation of what might happen, it girds your mind so that you’re better able to handle any negativity that might come your way. But the surprise could be that you run into people who handle you with care, making it easier for you. I’ve had some negative experiences along the way, but I’ve had far more positive ones. Thankfully, there are plenty of people out there who still believe that kindness is important. I hope they are the ones you run into!

Sometimes it is our dreams that help carry us through impossible situations. For an easily intimidated person, having to deal with rough treatment can be an impossible situation. But the tenacity that develops from having a dream can bring you through that. Think of yourself as the Energizer Bunny, who just keeps going, no matter what. Keep going. Live your dream and the reward will be yours in the end.