You Look Different in Real Life is a contemporary YA novel in which the broken friendship between the protagonist and her autistic best friend plays a central role–a thoughtfully handled plot thread that we were eager to talk to author Jennifer Castle about.
If our contributors could tell an author writing a character with their disability one thing–besides “do your research”–what would it be?
For disabled characters, being cured is a common trope. What’s more, in most of these narratives, the characters are cured because they’re better than they were at the start of the book: kinder, gentler, braver. And finally, finally, they’re normal and whole.
When I received my diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome seven years ago, I thought of all the young people today who face the social challenges and bullying that I faced decades earlier. I wanted to create a character like me, but one who fights back against the way others treat her in a way that I never did.
Ever seen the Allstate commercial? “I’m a random windstorm. Shaky, shaky.” Well, sometimes that’s how life feels when you’re a kid with disabilities. Because I’m both very random and my life can be, well, pretty shaky.