Self-diagnosing myself with Autism

Hello my little demons,

This blog post is a little different today, and I know I said ‘self-diagnosing’, there’s a lot of issues surrounding self-diagnosing medical/psychological/neurological issues, but bare in with me…

I had Selective Mutism…

You may already know that I had Selective Mutism as a child. I haven’t been officially diagnosed with it, but I’m 100% sure I had it as a child (and still suffer slightly with it today – either I clam up and don’t talk, or someone says/does something that is a ‘trigger’ and sets off an anxiety attack). If you didn’t know, I recommend you read my blog post here and check out my very first video on my new YouTube channel here.

Now, the reason why I haven’t been diagnosed is simple… it was missed. Instead, I was thought to be ‘shy’ in school, which is true, I was shy. Painfully. But, I also believe it was missed because there wasn’t enough education into it back in the 90s and early 2000s when I was at school. And the reason why it hasn’t been diagnosed, or at least officially put on my medical records NOW is because of three reasons;

1. I only learnt about it recently, say in the last few years. I stumbled across it actually. I can’t remember where it was I first saw/heard about Selective Mutism, but something in the name made me think “can it be?”. Before then, I never knew it was a ‘thing’ – I thought I was different, special, ‘odd’, that I was the only one who suffered the way I did as a child. Then, one day I came across it, read up about it, and went, Oh. My. God. That’s a THING?! So, yeah!

2. I kinda grew out of it. I developed SM (Selective Mutism) when I was at Primary School (about the age of 4 or 5) and it got worse as I became a teenager through Secondary School. But when I went to college, I went to a completely different college than all my cohort at school so I was no longer around those kids that new me as The Girl Who Whispered and I managed to break the cycle – if I didn’t, I probably would be still suffering today.

3. I learnt to mask. It took me YEARS, but I learnt to mask, hide, pretend I didn’t have it and learnt to fake confidence around people. I was ashamed of having it. I was ashamed of what people would think about me if they found out how weird I was in school, that I didn’t talk, that I whispered. So, I would mask that I had it, to the point of pretending that part of my life didn’t exist. When people would reminisce over their school days and say how they wish they were in school still, I would disagree, saying I hated school, but never said why. It was also hard to explain why I have a fear of certain things – one for example, I HATE people whispering to me now, because that was one thing the bullies in school would do, but try explain that to someone that doesn’t know about your background and you don’t WANT them to know.

It’s not that I don’t want it on my record, I just haven’t yet had chance to really talk to the doctors about it. I struggle with talking to the doctors, not only because I have moved around a LOT over the last few years, but because I have had some very bad experiences in the past. Plus, with the whole Covid situation at the moment, I find it difficult to go to the doctors – I can’t just walk in and ask for an appointment and I’m absolutely TERRIBLE on the phone (I had recently had to email my new doctors surgery to ask for an appointment, but they have just emailed me back asking me to ring them – urgh! Need to find the courage to do that!)

Is this Autism…?

Which kinda brings me onto my own self-diagnosis of Autism…. because SM is a SIGN of Autism… especially in women. So, when I learnt that… I did some digging.

Firstly, I want to apologise if I say anything that may offend anyone, I am still new to Autism, I’m still trying to understand it and I may get things wrong, or may say something that isn’t politically correct. Please bare in with me, I mean no offense. I know at least that some people do not like to be defined by their autism, there is a difference between being ‘a person with autism’ and an ‘autistic person’. I’m new to this concept and am still trying to get my head around it. I will probably use these interchangable and I do not mean offense. I’m still unsure how to define myself – and if I should even be using the term undiagnosed.

Now, I knew about Autism, I’ve heard about it, I’ve seen it, but my understanding of it was HUGELY WRONG. So, yeah, I used to think there were a few things that I saw in myself, but I never really associated myself with Autism until very recently (in the last few weeks).

Another sign of Autism, I have recently found out is masking. Which I do! A LOT! And I didn’t/don’t even realise I do! Masking is the ability to mimic non-autistic traits, or social interaction to hide the fact you have Autism. I’ve heard this is more prevalent in women with Autism, as opposite to men. I used to say that because of my SM, I didn’t learn social skills, but I’m now starting to think that, yeah, the SM didn’t help matters, but actually, my social skills were actually a result of Autism. In fact, I didn’t even realise this was a thing until recently either, because I just thought “this is how we learn” to socialise. Nope, it’s just me, being different.

There are a few other signs/criteria for autism, and more specifically ones found in women, and I will break those down, focusing on the main ones for women, because I want to show you why I have decided to self-diagnose myself with autism…

I took the following list from a YouTuber (shout out to Dan @TheAspieWorld, thanks, dude!) which I will post the video down below for you to watch. He has been diagnosed with asperger’s (which is technically Autism, but that’s a whole other discussion that I personally do not 100% understand yet, so will refrain from saying anything and getting it wrong…)

Autism in Women

Lack Of Eye Contact

✔️ Yep. I used to HATE looking people in the eye. I felt it was too intrusive. I felt like I was staring. Being rude. I also felt uncomfortable when people would look at me too long too, so if I felt uncomfortable, I would think others would too. I wouldn’t know how long to look, do I glance to make them aware I know they’re there and talking to me? How long is too long until it becomes weird and awkward? But, I learnt that eye contact was a ‘typical’ thing to do – so I had to learn how to make and keep eye contact. Some days, though, if you catch me on a bad day, or I’m a little too intimidated by the person, I will struggle – One of my coping mechanisms for those days, I find something else to put my eyes on.

Also, I am an anxious person so I tend to be hyper-aware of my surroundings, and even if I’m not hyper-aware, I am easily distracted by sounds, sights, lights, smells, etc, so if I look like my eyes are darting to things like that… it might not be that I’m struggling to keep eye contact, just something shiny has caught my attention.

Difficulty Socialising

✔️ Yep. Difficulty starting conversations (I hate small talk) and keeping them going. Although, this isn’t always the case, if you start talking to me about something I am interested in, passionate about (I can talk for hours about my book, for example) then I can talk so fast, you wouldn’t be able to keep up. I also struggle to understand what is oversharing, what is undersharing, when to stop talking if I’m talking too much, when to ask for help, and what the correct ‘socially accepted’ response is. I used to get people asking me how I am… and I would answer truthfully (“I’m terrible today, I just had a bad day with…”) and apparently people aren’t actually interested in knowing how you are… apparently this is a typical ‘greeting’ for some people. So, I learnt to say (“I’m good, thanks, how are you?”).

Introverted Personality But Outgoing In General

✔️ Yep. I have said to a few people before I am introverted (I like my own company) but I LOVE going outside. Maybe not to bars, clubs, restaurants, etc. Because they can be too loud, or busy, or have too many people. But I love the outside/nature (as long as it’s not too cold, but that’s a story for another day!) I love going out somewhere new, taking my camera, exploring the sites, smells, sounds, etc. I do also prefer going out with people… usually just the odd one or two people that I get on with, as that tends to help with my confidence, but if it’s someone I don’t know well, I’m too worried about how to act around them that I don’t tend to enjoy myself too much.

Obsessive Collector

✔️ I feel personally attacked. Let me just hide my Pokemon collection… My postcard collection… And my collection of bad habits… okay, maybe not including in this category… But yeah, I have been and still am a collector… and a hoader. I also go through phases. I had a large collection of bouncy balls, keyrings, postcards (which I regret getting rid of), bugs (yep, I was that kid! Sorry, mum!), I even came back home from a holiday with a new collection of pretty shells at one point. Unfortunately, I either stupidly got rid of a load of stuff, was asked to get rid of stuff (i.e. moving house) or I lost interest in that thing (I mean, why bouncy balls? What was I going to do with them?) but I have always been one to collect things, to the point of obsession. Currently, I am obsessed with collecting Pokemon on my Pokemon Go app, recently re-started a Pokemon card collection and re-started my postcard collection too. I also, not sure if it’s really an obsessive collection as such, but I HAVE to get something as a memento from where I went – a little gift to myself from a holiday destination, postcard is a must of course, but maybe a painting, or an ornament, heck, even a stone! And LOTS of photos! I also hoard, I’m terrible for it… I don’t like throwing something out if it may be useful in some way – tin cans I can upcycle, jars to store things in, a pretty candy wrapper for no other reason but because it’s pretty – and then I throw away because it’s technically rubbish, ribbons that I think will be useful for something, somewhere, someday and left forgotten in a draw, buttons… because you never know when you’re going to need a bright purple button from a cardigan you had when you were twelve… birthday cards, old electronics because you might want to learn how it works or try to fix it… boxes… does a collection of unironed clothes also count, or is that just me being lazy and hating ironing?

Selective Mute

✔️ I have already mentioned this previously, so I don’t feel the need to expand too much on this one. It’s obvious this means Selective Mutism, right?

Masking To Meltdown

✔️ Now, what this one means, is that you mask so often, to the point of exhaustion and then something tips you and BOOM meltdown. If I had seen this without the context that Dan said in his video, I probably would have disagreed with this one. But when he mentioned about the meltdown over something simple like realising someone has eaten all the chocolate sauce and you couldn’t have ice-cream and chocolate sauce… yeah… I realised that was me too. I may be fine one day, have the ‘issue’ not bothering me (Oh, you’re going to replace it… okay, that’s fine!)… but if I’ve had a bad day, or I’m exhausted from masking in a social situation all day… I would have meltdowns over something minor. (IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!) It could be from moving something I own. Breaking something. Eating my chocolate in the fridge. It could even be just asking me to do something simple. I can have a meltdown. And it physically hurts… I mean, seriously feels like an anxiety attack. It’ll also take me a while to calm down, and it’s seriously difficult to be around me because I can either get mad and angry, or I can turn the opposite and get depressed.

Shy And Quiet

✔️ This one is a yes and no answer. But only because I struggle to know whether I was actually shy, or if it’s my SM and/or social skills OR if it’s my masking, but I used to define myself as ‘shy and quiet’ but less so now because I have had to ‘force’ myself to be confident and outgoing to ‘fit in’ and be ‘professional’. It’s difficult, it’s exhausting, and there are times when I just cannot be bothered to be social as I’m so tired from it, so I will become quiet. But I’m not sure if the shy part actually defines me. I guess you could say I used to be, I am nervous in social situations, especially if I don’t know you or there is a big group or I’m put on the spot to talk (please make ice-breakers illegal!) but I feel as if that goes hand-in-hand with the selective mutism checkpoint.


So, yeah, reading through that, it makes me realise I hit all of those points. But, I want to point out there are others, some I agree with, such as the sensory overload issues – only today I had to move my feet from the floor of my flat because downstairs was making noises that was vibrating up through the floor. Inability to listen to people (I find it easier to read conversations/information than listen… it will seriously not go in!). Inability to express or understand emotions (well, there are some I understand such as anger or disgust, but others not so much – I’m really not good with knowing if someone is flirting!)

But, other points I don’t agree with; some Autistic people apparently are good with numbers, I’m not, I am TERRIBLE with numbers, my brain just cannot understand them, I’m terrible with dates of birth, for example (but I’m good at problem solving, I loved algebra in school and found statistics fascinating!). Some Autistic people have great memories, I haven’t, mine is terrible, remembering someone’s name, remembering what I did yesterday, apparently this is a trait from mental health issues too though. Some are geniuses, and yeah, I have a few qualifications, but I do not see myself up there on the genius scale at all – I had to fight to get my MSc, I nearly failed it!

I also, have heard that women with autism can be misdiagnosed with ADHD (or vise versa) and one of the traits in ADHD is the inability to stick to one task, having to do things all at once… that’s me too. I also get distracted easily, by something shiny, or something out of place, something wonky (my damn picture on the wall keeps moving, guys!) But I feel I relate more to Autism than I do ADHD, plus, if I don’t finish a task… I get nervous and frustrated. If I start a task, I have to finish it. It’s hard to let go.

Should I self-diagnose?

But, why have I self-diagnosed myself? Why did I decide in the last few weeks to just go ahead and start saying I am Autistic without getting officially diagnosed? Well, because it helps me. It helps me understand myself, it helps me try out the label and see how I feel about it, and it helps me explain to others about myself.

One of the things I have always struggled with is getting people to understand me. I remember writing about it in a diary I used to keep once, I was so upset that people didn’t understand me. I couldn’t understand why people struggled. I tried to explain myself all the time. Online. To people’s faces. I would write hand-written letters with all the intention of sending them and chickening out. It was EMOTIONAL. I was more upset about that, than actually keeping friends. And yes, that also upset me. It still does to some extent. I really struggle to make and mostly, keep friends. My MSc was torture for that reason and I ended up struggling with my mental health for a bit too. I also tried too hard to get people to like me, which I think put people off.

I recently spoke out on my Facebook profile, my personal one for my friends and family to see, that I am going through the process of diagnosing with Autism and a realisation hit me… if I get this diagnosis, will people finally accept me? Will they finally understand me? And oof… all the feels… I was emotional again!

I also came across another YouTuber (shout out to Paige Layle) who talks about self-diagnosing and explains why it’s okay to self-diagnose. You can watch it below too, I have included the video at the end of this blog. Yeah, okay, I live in a country with free health care – but believe me guys, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be! (That’s a whole other rant that I will not discuss here!) I will at least say that a lot of people have said it’s difficult to get diagnoses for these things here in the UK. It took me until 2010, when I was in my 20s to get diagnosed with depression (one counsellor even said I was just ‘having a bad day’ after one meeting!). It wasn’t until I moved to Scotland (about 25/26) that they did tests to see if I actually had thyroid issues or vitamin deficiency. Getting a diagnosis for Autism is going to be hard and I’m expecting to get misdiagnosed too!

So, although I am probably going to be referring myself as Autistic from now on, for these reasons I have mentioned, I am still going to push to get a diagnosis. To put my mind at rest – and to have it officially on my record in case I need any extra help in the future (ie. with work or education, which I feel would have benefitted me so much if I had that before!) AND, in the process, I hope my SM will also be diagnosed officially too.

Another thing I hope to get diagnosed is my Fibromyalgia. I’m 90% sure I have it now, as it’s getting worse, but that is also one other thing I have had trouble getting a diagnosis. Again, for my own peace of mind. But, this also is another story, possibly for another blog post!

Lastly, here are the videos I recommend you guys watching:

Dan @TheAspieWorld on the Female Autism Checklist:

Paige Layle’s Video on Self-Diagnosing:

I just want to point out, that although I personally have self-diagnosed myself with Autism on these above points, this isn’t a proper diagnosis, so please refrain from diagnosing yourself or someone else you may know, especially on just this one blog post. Please do your own research or, if it’s possible, seek professional advice. This blog post is only short in comparison to all the information out there, and all the research I have done, it’s only scratching the surface. This is only to inform you why I have done this in the limited space I have available on a blog post, and doesn’t give you the full picture. 🙂

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Am I a YouTuber now?

Hello my little demons!

I wasn’t going to blog today, I was going to have a break and just focus on getting my first video done for my YouTube done.

But… it turns out… I finished it! I uploaded my first YouTube video! So, I might as well blog about it!

…Heck.

Now the whole world will see me… will hear me talk… and I’m open for criticism… (I’ll post the video below).

But first, I want to explain what it is and why I did it.

Most of you should hopefully know by now that I had Selective Mutism as a child, I only recently understood what this was in the last few years, for most of my life I just thought I was odd… that I was alone with this weird secret… and I kept it to myself. But, now I know I’m not alone and I want to talk about it (ahhh!!) and hopefully spread a bit of awareness about it so others, like me, know they’re not alone!

What is Selective Mutism? Well, watch the video to find out! 🙂

I also want to apologise, I filmed this back in December… before Christmas!… and it’s taken me ages to edit and finally upload.

I tried a few different video editing software (open source, because I’m tight!), from OpenShot (it was really glitchy!) to Blender (which kept freezing) and finally found Shotcut which was sooo much better!

But of course, life also got in the way… what with working full time, writing (I will get Rose Garden Sanatorium finished if it’s the last thing I do!) and planning a Route 66 Tour (as well as other things… occasionally doing the washing up for example).

I hope you like it.

And apologies for the bad lighting, camera quality (it was a DSLR with no auto-focus), and the little jumps as I tried to edit out my ‘umm’s. Haha!

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I can also start giving you this link too (hint, it’s a YouTube Channel link… I wonder who’s?):
Go on, click the link, you know you want to!

Author Interview – Raymond G. Newsome

Hello, my little demons,

Here’s the sixth installment of author interviews. Today I am sharing an interview I had with a friend of mine. I can’t even remember where I met him (might have been on WattPad?), but we jelled pretty quickly, not only because we both write, but because we both like the same sorts of things – the weird and wonderful.

Say hello to my little friend… I mean… say hello to Raymond Newsome!

About Raymond

Raymond lives in Eastern Kentucky with his girlfriend and five children (reading and creativity are always encouraged!) When he’s not writing and spending time with his family, he works as a nursing aid for a local nursing home.

Raymond has a few books out, ‘I am Brian’, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, and a children’s book called ‘The Adventures of Pipsqueak and Bob’. Read below for a sneak peak into my favourite; ‘I am Brian’.

I am Brian

I remember reading the first few chapters of ‘I am Brian’ before Raymond finished and published it and it had me hooked. It’s written in the view of the murderer; Brian Leroy Lewis, and you think; okay, so not a typical ‘who done it‘ because you already know who done it. But the guy sends you on a ride anyway!

Synopsis:

After arriving at a grisly murder scene, Detective Jackson finds the killer waiting on the porch.

During the police interview, the murderer introduces himself as none other than Brian Leroy Lewis – a younger man full of mental issues and a sinister history.

He promised a written confession on the terms he can leave a taped record of his life and the people he’s murdered. If Detective Jackson refuses, a new victim will die.

But what exactly are the motives of Brian Leroy Lewis?

Above is a link to the book sold on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real physical, and hopefully signed, paperback copy!

Interview

Now, let’s try and decode what’s inside Raymond’s mind…

What inspired you to start writing?

I started reading at an early age and loved it before school forces you to dissect every word. In elementary school in Ohio, they took us to different schools to listen to children’s authors who would visit. That was the beginning.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I used to limit the first draft to a few months, however, the last year has done a number on my writing time and forced me to accept to just focus on the end without a timeline in mind.

Which one of your works is your favourite?

‘I am Brian’ currently holds that position, but one of my current projects may lay claim soon.

What’s your current book about?

I don’t have a current, finished book, but I do have one that I am over halfway finished with the first draft. It’s about a handful of citizens in the fictional city of Pangaea. They experienced the corruption of the city first-hand and began to do something about it. While attempting to help their separate city districts, they discovered each other and the common goal of the man responsible for everything.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Flow. If a story doesn’t have a steady flow, you can lose a reader fast. I’ve put down multiple books for this reason. Characters. My characters are everything to me. They are the drive behind every action and reaction. Finally, keeping the grammar proficient enough not to discourage the readers. Just like flow, too many typos can lead to someone not wanting to finish the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read and watch whatever movie or show has caught my attention. I love to go on trips with my family. Last summer, I ventured into kayaking, which is amazing.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

A lot of the subjects I touch on in my books (the occult, supernatural, serial killers) I have studied and researched for years before ever deciding to incorporate them into my writing. However, there are those little details that add the zing to a scene that can require multiple Google searches to your writing time.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

I have four active projects, including the one I mentioned earlier. I have close to fifty others in the early stages of my process.

What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?

Write about something you want to read. If you love the book, your passion is there on the pages. Your readers will feel that. Practice your craft. I started with short stories and poetry which eventually evolved to books. Maybe those are what you love, so pour your soul into them. The goal is to write and keep writing. No matter what the first draft looks like, it can be fixed in editing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We all have a story to tell. One day you’ll be ready to tell it, and it will change the lives of others. That is the power of your words. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about Raymond and his books or follow him on social media.
Here are a few links:

raymondgnewsome.com
facebook.com/rgnewsomeauthor
instagram.com/raymond.newsome
twitter.com/rgnewsomeauthor

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Calling Authors: Do you want to be featured on my website?

Hello my little demons,

Last year (it feels weird saying that) I decided to interview a few fellow authors with the intention of helping them get their work the recognition they deserve. It’s been pretty successful too, I’ve had a few people approach me and I’ve had some nice comments. I’ve also made some good contacts, found some really interesting books and even learnt a few new things along the way.

Keeping up with my daily life as well as writing and blogging has been pretty difficult lately, and I’ve struggled to keep to a schedule – and let’s face it, book marketing isn’t the easiest either – I’ve decided to create this blog post so that I can reach more people easily and help their hard work get recognised.

So, if you are a writer/author, would like your short story/novel/true story/memoir featured on my website, please feel free to get in touch! I have listed a few questions below and a contact form. Feel free to email me between 5-15 questions and I will see if I can get your featured on my website!

Questions:

  1. What got you into writing?
  2. Where do you get your ideas?
  3. What inspired you to start writing?
  4. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
  5. Do you have a schedule when writing? Or do you try to fit it in when you can?
  6. How long does it take you to write a book?
  7. Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?
  8. How do you deal with criticism?
  9. Do you Google yourself?
  10. What was your hardest scene to write?
  11. Which one of your works is your favourite?
  12. Are you working on anything at the moment?
  13. Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?
  14. What’s your current book about?
  15. Is your book based on a real person?
  16. What is your most unusual writing quirk?
  17. Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?
  18. What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
  19. What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?
  20. How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?
  21. Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?
  22. What is your favourite word, and why?
  23. Was writing your dream job as child, or was it something else?
  24. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
  25. Can you tell me a little about your book?
  26. Can you tell me a little about the main character(s)?
  27. Do you think the LGBT+ community in literature is unrepresented?
  28. Do you have a LGBT+ book you’d recommend everyone read?
  29. What is your upcoming book about?
  30. Do you write every single day?
  31. What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
  32. How do you use social media as an author?
  33. What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?
  34. How much research did you need to do for your books?
  35. What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?
  36. Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?
  37. If a film were made of your book, who would you like to be cast in the leading roles?
  38. What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?
  39. Do you have any good blogs you’d recommend for writing?
  40. Anything else you’d like to add?

Please submit your answers (between 5-15) via the contact form below.
Alternatively, you can contact me on thegirlwhowhisperedauthor@gmail.com.
If you have any images of book covers, marketing images or even wish to have a photo of yourself, please feel free to email these over to the email above.

NB: Please note, if you submit more than 15 questions, I may not publish them all and will pick 15 at random.

Here are a few interviews I have done already:

Author Interview – A.C Thomas
Author Interview – Jethro Weyman
Author Interview – Noir Hayes
Author Interview – S.D. Reed
Author Interview – Havelah McLat

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Author Interview – Jethro Weyman

Here’s another installment of author interviews, and this week is slightly different as today it’s a short story author.

I’ve been meaning to interview Jethro for a while now (sorry for the delay, Jethro!) and I’m glad I finally got around to doing it. Although, I hate to admit I haven’t read his books, after interviewing him and reading the reviews on Amazon – they’re both going straight onto my wish list! Seriously, you guys have to check them out!

About Jethro Weyman

Jethro is a fellow Brit, born in Buckinghamshire and raised in Hertfordshire, not only does he write mind-boggling short stories, he works for the NHS as a physiotherapist in Birmingham. He manages a small team of five (including himself) on a specialist stroke and neurology rehabilitation ward. He also recently snagged some work as a supporting artist working on a film – which he can’t name yet!

As well as writing (and acting, so it seems), he enjoys cycling, bouldering, and as many forms of media he can cram in. He’s a big fan of nature, so tries to surround himself with that as often as possible. He loves animals, although doesn’t currently own any, and in his own words he “also loves not having fur or vomit or the outdoors all over the house!”

Bang to Begin

One of Jethro’s books; Bang to Begin, is a series of short stories, although a mix of genres, they are all linked and, by the end, become one. It’s designed to be a bit of a “head messer”, but also one that grows with a second read through. Read the synopsis below.

(It’s already on my wish-list, Jethro, will be purchasing it as soon as I move into my new apartment!)

Here it is on Amazon

Synopsis:

Reality is Relative.
There is no such thing as universal truth.
But lies are always lies.
From auctions to assassinations, from cosmos to subconscious mind, the roots feeding into these short stories start fine, but thicken and tangle as they grow deeper.
Follow these wayward souls through their darkest moments, each beginning with a bang and each trying desperately to avoid ending with the same.
A metaphysical, visionary exploration of the human psyche and all that it means to be real – discussed via an anthology with a difference.

Interview with Jethro

Now, let’s get into the interview and learn more about the inner workings of Jethro’s mind and these books of his…

What got you into writing?

I actually got into it a little by accident. I had an idea for a scene stuck in my head for a few momths and just felt I needed to get it down on paper for it to stop irritating me. Fortunately, that didn’t work… and I was irrirated all the way to writing a full novel. It definitely wasn’t expertly written, but it was something I could work with. I recently edited that scene out, which was a bit of a blow, but I’ve got it stored on my hard drive for reminiscence purposes.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I’ve got no idea if I have any quirks, let alone unusual ones. I guess I’ll need to set up a camera and keen an eye on myself… although, I probably wouldn’t like what I find!

Do you write every single day?

I wish I had the discipline and the energy, but sometimes I get home from work and jus tneed to sit down and watch something mindless for a while. I do go through periods of daily writing, but it’s rare these days. If Twitter stories count, then I do write most days, but substantial writing probably comes about twice a week right now, at best. There’s a lot of life happening at the moment and that’s not necessarily a good thing!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

That definitely has to be the editing side of things. I can quite easily have the enthusiasm sucked out of me by a long editing stint, especially when I’ve had some brutal feedback calling for a big rewrite. I’ve had to kill a lot of darlings… I’ve had to kill a lot of things I wouldn’t call darlings too, but I’m a bit of a perfectionist as I write too… so having to go back and realising how imperfect it all is after a first draft can be quite dishearening. But such is the life of a writer!

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

For me, as a reader, it’s all about the flow. If a writer can entice me with their premise and make me look forward to reading what sounds like it will be right up my street, only to write in a clunky and fluentless way, that’s really disappointing. It also shows when someone has a handle on their genre or their style as well… it probably shows even more when they don’t. Since starting to write myself, I feel like I’ve become a lot more critical over these aspects as well. I’ll notice and get annoyed by a lot more than I used to, but I think that’s probably true of all of us.

How do you use social media as an author?

I am definitely guilty of a shameless self promo or several, and I think social media is a fantastic marketing tool, at least in the early days of a writer’s career (which is my only experience). I also use it to connect with other writers, to practice my craft with short stories using many word prompt games and also, to a certain extend, to feel part of a wider community, especially in times like these where it’s more difficult to have a social life. I’ve made a lot of friends via social media, primarily Twitter, and if you ignore as much of the toxicity as possible, it can be a very rewarding place to be.

What’s your favourite and least favourite part of publishing?

Self-publishing is definitely a pain – My least favourite part of it (or most hated) was formatting. Especially in the first book I published, which is made up primarily of Twitter stories. The formatting took forever and it drove me a little insane for a while… in fact, the remnants are probably still rattling around in there somewhere. My favourite part was definitely the satisfaction of being a published author, although I do still feel I need to get traditionally published before I can truly accept that. Anyone can publish a book these days, but not anyone can nab an agent and get a publishing deal.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

I must admit… I’m a bit of a write now, research later kind of chap. If I stop too much to focus on the details, I lost that all important flow and that’s something I really try to avoid. However, there are certain things I had to look up beforeI wrote for example: the geography of where I used to live in Buckinghamshire for my first novel – I needed travel times and names of nearby places and I even did a bit of google map street viewing to make sure it was accurate. For my fantasy novel, I did very little research other than finding names and designs of weapons which could be used or modified for use in the story. And with Bang to Begin, the only thing I can remember fully researching was what happens to someone when they hang themselves for one of the horror elements… so my search history is probably not as bad as Stephen King’s, but there’s a few dodgy key words on there.

What do you need in your writing space to keep you focused?

I wish I’d found it!… probably an EMP device which stops all electronic devices apart from my laptop from working… and will only let me use the internet for research purposes. I basically need a parental lock on my writing space.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

Of course… there’s nothing particularly interesting on there, but it does come up with the awful photos that are on the profile I have with an Extras casting agency. Twitter and my books come up as well… but I’m yet to get the all important Wikipedia page… maye I should make one myself!

Do you play music while you write – and if so, what’s your favourite?

I used to be unable to write unless I was in total silence, even bird song would put me off. Nowadays, maybe I’ve mellowed a bit, but I put on instrumental music. This could be acoustic guiter or piano music, but my favourite music to write to is Neo-Soul or Chillstep – there are a good few playlists on Spotify which absolutely hit the spot for this, including one called Mellow Beats and another called Lo-Fi Beats. When I don’t need to think too much about how I’m working things, I often put on some Tom Misch or Jordan Rakei or their playlists. Whatever I have on… it has to be calm and rhythmic.

Can you tell me a little bit about your book “Bang to Begin”?

I can! The idea for the book came to me after the 6th chapter; a story called The Death of Fate. Originally I was just writing completely disparate episodes as a series for a reading subscription website called Channillo. After that 6th chapter, I thought it should be more than what I set out to create, especially as this chapter gave me the idea of how to link them all together. The concept of face (and other metaphysical concepts) are the cornerstone of the book. What if these concepts were personified? What if that personification were a construct of an individual’s perception or ego? So, I worked prospectively and retrospectively to fit all of the stories together… the original versions are still available on the website and are even harder to follow than the final.

It’s all quite dark and more than a bit twisted, but writing in this way gave me space to dabble in all of the genres I’ve had an interest in. There are stories primarily based in the thriller/suspense genre, in horror, in fantasy and sci-fi and, to begin with, it can definitely be quite confusing. I’ve written it in a way which, I hope, begs for a second read, because there are little callbacks and subtleties that won’t be noticeable at first. I don’t want to give anything away, but once you realise what this book really is… it should come as a bit of a revelation, if not a relief! Plus, it’s only short… which can only help.

Both of your published books are short stories, have you considered writing a novel?

I definitely have considered it and I’ve done it. I wrote a thriller called Kept in the Dark, which I’m currently querying – this was my first foray into proper writing and I’ve had some good feedback from readers, but I’m yet to land an agent. I’ve done some more revisions recently, and I hope that helps. It explores government and insitutional corruption and how the people who oppose this are viewed. It’s set in what I call a near-future dystopia – a little bit Black Mirror. I’ve also written an SFF novel called Craft (Working Title), which explores social, racial and gender inequality in a way I hope is unique. I try to incorporate more meaningful themes into my work when I can.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

Too many, and I curse myself whenever I add another. I’m currently working on a short story (should end up about 5000 words) which is a YA (ish), supernatural thriller. I’m not too far off finishing the first draft of this, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. I’m also editing my first screenplay using the wise words of Syd Field and some beta readers as a basis. I would love to write for the screen, so I’m going to try and make a go of this. It’s a post-apocalyptic comedy. I should be editing my second novel, but it is hard to tear myself away from the new stuff (this is always a problem) and I did start writing the sequel to this as well when I was stuck in a Brazilian airport for about 8 hours. So, I’ll get back to that at some point as well.

If you’d like to contact Jethro, here’s a link to his Twitter page!

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My Podcast Interview – Breaking the silence and becoming an author & activist – It’s Never Too Late

Hello my little demons!

For those of you who follow me on social media (see the links below if you’d like to follow), you may have noticed that I did a podcast interview recently and was waiting for it to air.

Well, it all started when I was approached by Megha on Twitter, asking me to do a podcast interview and I jumped at the opportunity. Not necessarily because I love supporting fellow authors and creative minds (which I do), and it’ll be good publicity for me, but because I will be getting out of my comfort zone HUGELY.

If you don’t know, I had Selective Mutism as a child, you can read my previous post on ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered“‘ here, which explains more about it, and as silly as it sounds, talking is something I have always struggled with.

When we scheduled to do it, I was very nervous, I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest. Megha was so lovely though, so understanding and I eventually felt myself calming (okay, a little).

I’ve been waiting for it to go live with baited breath, although the hard part was over, I was still really nervous about it going live. All those years worrying about speaking and I was going public on the internet. But the podcast went live today at 14:30 BST and I couldn’t be happier. It came out great!

If you’re interested in listening, here it is on spotify:

Huge thanks to Megha for the opportunity, it was great to make such a lovely connection too, and thanks everyone who has already listened to it – I was told Megha’s listeners love it (I think it’s my British accent!)

If you’d like to support Megha and her podcast, please check out her links:

website: meghaupadhyaya.com
facebook: facebook.com/itsnevertoolatepodcast
instagram: instagram.com/takeitsleeazy/
twitter: twitter.com/Young_blackbird

If you’d like to support Megha’s podcast, you can do so here!

Here was a little teaser trailer (I sound awful, but here it is for completeness anyway!):

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

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Reflections – The Girl Who Whispered… and kept fighting!

Hello, my little demons! 😈

I just want to say thank you.

Bare in with me as I explain why.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Today it hit me how far I have come. A few weeks ago I got verified on Google and bought my first domain thegirlwhowhispered.com. Six months ago I started my new career and moved to the highlands. Nearly a year ago I handed in my thesis for my master’s degree. Two years ago I graduated with a BSc and published my second book; “I Fell in Love with a Psychopath“. And, three years ago I published my first book; “It’s My Mistake“.

It had it’s ups and downs, not quite passing my master’s degree, break-ups, health scares, cancelling trips, blood, sweat and tears. A few times I questioned what I was doing, if I was on the right path, if I was wasting my time. But I somehow kept going.

It doesn’t stop there either, as you may know, I had selective mutism as a child (hence ‘The Girl Who Whispered‘) and I was diagnosed with depression after coming back from Australia. And I will admit, I was suicidal at one point.

(c) Penny Hooper

Now, I am waiting for my start date on my new contract, moving yet again! This time to a different country! I will be (finally) finishing my Master’s Degree in the next month or so. And my thesis is being published in a research journal! I am working on getting another book published (editing isn’t fun, guys!) I am planning on setting up a YouTube channel (this is a big deal, for someone who had selective mutism!) I am also planning a charity tour down Route 66 with a good friend of mine (I already have an invite to the Harley-Davidson Museum!) filming it for my new YouTube channel, and I have plans on setting up my own publishing business!

I’m damn proud of myself. Proud that I kept fighting on the bad days. Proud that I finished my BSc (which took me 5 years!). Proud that I fought to contest my master’s degree (and won!). Proud that I have two books published.

I’m also excited about my future!

From that little shy girl who whispered, and who only wished for happiness.

Not to be rich.
Not to be famous.
To just be happy.

I wish I could go back in time, to tell little Penny… keep fighting! One day, you will be proud of yourself!

Now, why do I say thank you?

Well, I say thank you to everyone who had my back. To my close friends who stuck around. Who had my back on the bad days. Who made me laugh. Who supported me when I felt no one ever would (Lee, Gabi, Dan, Dave, Mozz to name a few, and of course, my mother too!)

I also say thank you to those who didn’t have my back. As weird as that sounds. Those who said I was a nobody, those who didn’t believe in me, who bullied me and belittled me, who went out of their way to send me nasty messages. Thank you, for giving me something to prove you all wrong.

I also want to thank myself, for being so strong and badass… because my success means I can continue to help others!

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😈

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
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