Check This Out: Rogue (Part 2)

We’re back with the awesome Lyn Miller-Lachmann! Let’s get ready to rock!

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Lyn’s latest novel, Rogue, debuts TODAY! Woot!

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To celebrate, we’re giving away ONE SIGNED COPY of Rogue!!! Yeah, baby! More on that later.

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El Space: Happy Release Day, Lyn! What do you hope readers will take away from Rogue?
Lyn: If you are the kind of young person I was growing up—isolated, often excluded from activities, feeling that you don’t fit in or the other kids don’t care about you—this novel will show you that you are not alone. I’m not going to say that it all gets better when you grow up, because I continue to struggle with isolation, exclusion, and miscommunication, but the things that make you different can also lead to joy and accomplishment. You need to find the things that make you happy, and through your unusual skills and interests, you will find a place in the world.

Erika, a teen reader from California, wrote, “It was interesting to see how someone who is usually looked down upon in society is finally given a chance to show who they are.” People who have special needs and challenges usually have a different way of seeing the world, and their ideas may be the key to solving a difficult problem. We don’t move forward if we all think alike and agree with each other. Often, it takes the outsider—the one who sees the world in a different way—to suggest the solution.

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Part of Lyn’s Lego city

El Space: What would you say to your teenage self if you could?
Lyn: I was a straight-A student, but it was hard for me to concentrate in school because of bullying. Because I saw my A’s as the only measure of my worth, I sought out the easiest classes—the ones where I could get an A without expending too much mental energy—and skipped subjects like advanced math and physics, which interested me but seemed too hard. Now, most of my characters—Kiara; the protagonist of Gringolandia, Daniel; and the main character of my current work-in-progress—are all into science, math, or engineering. I see this as a kind of wish fulfillment, which we, as writers, get to do in our stories (as long as we don’t overdo it). However, I’d like to tell my teenage self that if you love science, math, and physics, pursue them, and look for support among your teachers and other caring adults both within and outside of school.

El Space: What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book with an autistic character?
Lyn: There’s a saying, “When you’ve met one person with autism . . . you’ve met one person with autism.” Avoid stereotyping—assuming that everyone on the autism spectrum shares the same characteristics and behaviors. Kiara, for instance, is basically an extroverted person who wants to connect with others and have friends. The stereotypical portrayal of someone like her on the spectrum, however, is of a person who is withdrawn and has social anxiety. That’s not true of all of us. Like Kiara, I saw myself as outgoing and friendly. I wanted to be in the middle of things, rather than always on the outside looking in. By the time I finished high school, I had experienced so much bullying that I wanted nothing to do with my fellow students. I just wanted to leave town and never come back.

To the best of my knowledge, Rogue is the only novel for young readers featuring a protagonist on the autism spectrum that is written by someone on the autism spectrum. A lot of the novels with characters on the autism spectrum are written by parents, siblings, or other close family members, or by educators who work with children with special needs. For that reason, they do show an understanding of the diversity of backgrounds and personalities, but whether we’re writing from the outside or from the inside, all of us need to be aware of the baggage that we bring.

For more information on the pitfalls of creating characters with autism and other developmental and emotional disabilities, check out the essay I wrote for the Children’s Book Council’s Diversity 101 blog.

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Lyn signing books at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival (May 4). Photo by Nancy Castaldo.

El Space: What genre would you like to tackle next?
Lyn: After finishing Rogue, I returned to YA with a very intense novel about a boy living in poverty who loses his place in an elite academic program and his shot at a college scholarship after sustaining a severe concussion as a result of a bullying incident. Now that that project, titled Ants Go Marching, is done, I’m trying my hand at humor in a middle grade novel with a boy protagonist.

Humor is a challenge for me, because having Asperger’s, I don’t get a lot of other people’s jokes, and things I find funny often don’t have the same effect on others. But my main character in my current work-in-progress (which has the tentative title of Krill) is close to the autism spectrum, if not on it, and his friend and co-conspirator is definitely on it. The humor comes from the situations they get themselves into, because they’re great with computers, but clueless when it comes to matters of the human heart. The story also has a somewhat European sensibility, because I started it when I was living in Portugal, and I also read a lot of middle grade novels in translation.

And that’s a wrap! Thanks again, Lyn, for being a gracious and inspiring guest!

ALL commenters will be entered in a random drawing for a signed copy of Rogue. You must comment TODAY, however. The winner will be announced on May 19. For those who don’t win, Rogue is available here:
Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Powell’s Books
Anderson’s Bookshop

You can find Lyn at her website or on Twitter: @LMillerLachmann.

Book release image from roamingthroughromance.com. For another great interview with Lyn, check out Through The Wardrobe.

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35 thoughts on “Check This Out: Rogue (Part 2)

  1. A great continuation! Thanks to you both. Amazon notified me that my copy of ROGUE is on its way–but I would never say no to a signed copy!

  2. Thank you, that has given me food for thought. A greater insight and understanding when so often we do not see beyond the labels.
    Thank you both.

  3. Thanks, Linda and Lyn, for this wonderful interview! Loved this from Lyn: “To the best of my knowledge, Rogue is the only novel for young readers featuring a protagonist on the autism spectrum that is written by someone on the autism spectrum.” I’m so excited to read this book and share it with my students. And I can’t wait to check out the other two projects you mentioned, too, Lyn!

    • Thanks, Laurie! I’m glad that Lyn will get to visit with your students in the future! I’m sure she’ll have plenty of interviews about this book. I’m waiting for my copy of Rogue to arrive today.

    • Now that authors are expected to do so much more of the marketing themselves, having a disability poses a far greater challenge than in the past, when we wrote alone in our garrets. That’s why I especially appreciate all the support and help I’ve received from others, like my Secret Gardeners.

  4. It is also unfortunate that Aspergers is not well known. If it was, I think the’d be forgiven a lot and could keep more friendships. Even their “clumsiness” would be more forgiven. I am so happy this book is out there now! I hope it’s also a booming success so that hopefully people will get an understanding, as well as learning about this!! Thank you again for these posts! 🙂

    • I’m hoping it will be too! This is a great way for kids (and adults) to learn more about Asperger’s. Thanks for stopping by! (And thanks for the Easter Egg on your site.) 🙂

      • You’re welcome, Lyn, but I want to thank YOU for writing and publishing this book! I am sure it was not easy! 🙂

      • No, it wasn’t. “Coming out” with my story was risky both in terms of family relationships and my future employment, because in spite of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there’s still a lot of discrimination in the workplace. To disclose or not to disclose is an issue anyone with a “hidden disability” who is seeking a job must deal with, and I’ve pretty much closed off one of those options.

  5. Linda – thank you for a great post. And Lyn – I keyed in on the same line that Laurie Morrison quoted above – and it gave me goosebumps. Thank you for your willingness to write Kiara as a person with Asperger’s. I can’t wait to read ROGUE!

  6. And if you’ve met Lyn Miller-Lachmann you’ve not just met an author… or someone on the autism spectrum… you’ve met a hugely-talented, multifaceted, interesting person who’s fun to hang out with. Those high school bullies were totally missing out! Looking forward to reading Rogue.

    • Thank you for the kind words, Sheryl! One of the things I didn’t say in the interview but is important to say is that a person with a disability is a person first. The disability should not define someone, and if you’re creating a character with a disability or difference, it shouldn’t define your character. It is only one aspect of a complex personality and a full life.

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  8. This is such a great interview! I love what you say, Lyn, about how we all have something to offer and I think this story will resonate with a lot kids. And it is really awesome that you are out there writing from the perspective of an insider. Also, super excited about your other projects!

  9. Thank you, Shawna! I’m excited about what I’m working on now, and it’s so hard because of the publicity with ROGUE. Fortunately, I have two readers of the middle grade project who are highly invested in it because of the advice they’ve already given me and they’re not the type to let me slack off.

    • Sweet! I know it’s difficult to balance multiple things at once. I don’t know how authors nowadays do that, juggling publicity with writing…

  10. Will check this one out. We’re all on the spectrum in my house. No kidding… we’re the Aspers Family.

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