For decades now I’ve been writing the jacket copy for my books. Many publishers prefer that the author handle this chore. As they explain it, the author knows the book better than anyone else can.
Despite all that experience, when it came to writing the back cover copy for my latest release, TWENTY MINUTES LATE, I made a careless mistake that seemed to negate my whole premise. I never realized it until a reader of this blog pointed it out.
Briefly describing various elements of the plot, I wrote:
“Maddie has just escaped from an obsessed and violent boyfriend who continues to stalk her. Her handsome brother Ben, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is accused of the same kind of behavior, although in his case it was unintentional.”
This blog has several readers who argue intensely against my premise that Aspies, by and large, despite their sometimes odd behavior, are NOT inherently dangerous and don’t deserve to be treated as such. With that unfortunate misstatement, I appeared to be going against the very premise myself. No wonder the reader pointed it out with such triumph.
I certainly never meant to saddle poor Ben with obsessed and violent behavior, which is most untypical of Aspies. True, occasionally an Aspie does manifest aggressive behavior, as in the case of Adam Lanza, who shot up the Sandy Hook School in Connecticut. There were claims that he had Asperger’s. I don’t know if he was formally diagnosed. If he had the disorder, chances are he had something else going on as well. Most of us have more than one attribute and you can get all sorts of combinations. There is nothing inherent in Asperger’s syndrome itself that would make a person violent. At times they may feel out of sync with the larger world, even more out of sync than they appear to you. When Ryo Kiyan, the main subject of this blog, was accused of stalking a girl, he had no idea what they were talking about. He began seeing a therapist, and cried out, “I just want to know how the world works!” He really didn’t know, and really wanted to. Malice was never his motivation, which is why a mediation session, in which he could be explained to the girl and she to him, might well have made a difference.
Needless to say, I changed that unfortunate wording in my jacket copy. The change was also made on my website (carolinecrane.com), in my blog, and I hope soon on the book itself, although a few advance copies slipped out without the change. All it took was a single phrase. It should now read:
“Her handsome brother Ben, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is also accused of stalking, although in his case it was unintentional.”
So thank you, dear reader, for pointing it out to me.
Aspies have trouble understanding the larger world, and the larger world certainly doesn’t understand them. This can lead to erroneous perceptions. My friend Jesse Saperstein authored a book on what it’s like to have Asperger’s: ATYPICAL: LIFE WITH ASPERGER’S IN 20⅓ CHAPTERS. In describing his bumpy love life, he wrote “My persistence is so overwhelming that girls misconstrue it as stalking.” That is exactly what happened to Ryo Kiyan, with disastrous results.
Yes, Aspies can at times seem “different.” That “difference,” in many cases, makes people “uncomfortable,” which translates itself into fear. Ryo himself understood that much of the world. He knew he was an oddball. As such, he was perceived as a danger, not only by Miss M but by the Sullivan County government. Dangerous people, he acknowledged, have to be weeded out, which is exactly what they did.
Would you like to meet some really scary guys? Scary would not be your first reaction. They can be personable, handsome, well-spoken, well turned out, and very, very charming. Charm is in their nature, for their own purposes, but what is underneath it? If this link doesn’t work, you can copy and paste it into your browser.