Dear readers, tonight we print an interview with a sixteen-year-old boy with autism, who found a book that promised his every wish once he translated it. It took a bit of coaxing and some bickering, but he agreed (so long as it wasn’t face-to-face). He’ll tell us about fantasy kingdoms, princesses and paper girls, and power in adversity.
Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?
I grew up in Utah (though that’s never mentioned in the book) where I live with both my parents in a small city. Or rather: lived. My father… Well, he’s gone now and I still miss him. But Mom and I still live in our old home. In fact, I even sleep in their old bed – so I can be close to Dad.
I don’t have any brothers or sisters; though my father once said he wanted to have more. They never said so, but I guess my parents didn’t go for more children because I wasn’t always the easiest. You see, when I was eleven – the most horrible year of my life – they discovered I have autism. That same year, Dad… Went away and my best friend betrayed me. But I don’t want to talk about that.
I live in a house with three floors of which the third floor is my bedroom. I also have a game room, there, but I talk about that later. I go to a high-school, but I hope you forgive me when I don’t tell you its name. I’m not one of the popular kids, there, probably because I broke a bully’s arm. Also, the principal has it in for me. He doesn’t understand I had nothing to do with breaking my bully’s arm. I pushed him against a wall, for sure, but is it my fault he has brittle bones?
Did you have any favorite toys as a child? Any cherished memories?
I often sit alone in my room. I don’t have many friends, except for Storm, but I do speak a lot of different languages. And I love to find the explanations of names. Storm’s real name is Sherwin. It means ‘swift runner’, but since he’s in a wheelchair I don’t think it fits him well. Hence, I called him Storm. He’s like a storm in his wheelchair; fast and hard to keep up; even if I’m on my bike. He’s my only friend, though you should ask him why. Most people find me weird because of my autism. I often think the only reason why he’s with me, is because he can’t run away. I once told him, too, and it made him laugh. Don’t ask me why.
But to answer your question: I love to play computer games. I like Civilization, Humankind or Minecraft. I love to conquer the world and I am so good at it I even beat Dad at it. When he was still at home… I also like to ride around with my bike. Dad and I did that on my eleventh birthday and that’s how we found the burned down ranch house. I loved it so much, Dad bought it and started to renovate it.
He shouldn’t have. A wall collapsed and since he was alone…
In the ranch house, a week or so later, I found a book that promised to grant me my every wish if and when I translated it. And that’s when I knew it: I wanted to wish my autism away and bring my father back.
My most cherished memory? It’s a Fourth of July – in New York. We watched the fireworks. And we were Mom, Dad and I. Did you know I recreated that memory to help save the Twelve? They are a crack commando and the personal bodyguards of the King of Kalpana – the author of the book I had to translate. But I really didn’t save them at all, I’m afraid. But that Fourth of July? Yes: that’s my fondest memory of Dad and me. Because, you know, he was always there for me.
What do you do now?
Yeah. About that. I don’t want to brag, but when I made my wish, I didn’t ask for my autism to disappear or my father to be alive again. I wished for a girl, a Princess for sure, certain she never came. But she did. And because of that…
Don’t let them tell you anything else. She took me to Kalpana – the world she came from. And that’s a funny word, right there. Did you know Kalpana means Imagination in Hindi? So, today I’m still this glupi boy who believes in wishes. And in case you don’t know, because you’re not as good in languages as I am, glupi is stupid in Polish.
Storm says I shouldn’t tell you that. But everyone knows and it’s okay. I guess that I still have autism. I got the chance to get rid of it, but everyone around me wanted me to still have autism, I guess.
No, of course that isn’t true. They really wanted me to remain me. My one real wish was to have friends, so that’s what I do, I guess. I do my best to evade them because while I like to have friends, they also make me feel awkward. I never know what to say around them. If this wasn’t a written interview, I probably sat there and looked at you. Now… It’s Storm and Princess Aislinn who keep pushing me to write answers down. I hope I don’t bore you to death, though. Because I Want to be your friend, too. Even when you look like a very old dude.
Ah. I forgot. Both Storm and Princess Aislinn want me to tell you I have a girlfriend. Princess Aislinn. It’s funny, because I’m not sure what to do around her, but then, she does most of the doing. Even the things I don’t like, but secretly love. She made me to what I am today.
What can you tell us about your latest adventure?
If I have to believe Princess Aislinn, I’m the hero of the story. But I don’t agree. The true heroes are my friends. Storm, because he’s always there to defend me – even when everyone else ignores him, without asking anything in return. Can you imagine that, though he sits in a wheelchair, he didn’t even want to be able to walk? He called it overrated. The idea alone.
And then there is Aislinn, who you can’t ignore, no matter how hard you try. She’s… Well, she’s her. She stopped my bully. And my teacher. And she took it upon herself to do stuff I ordinarily wouldn’t do. I guess she could do all that because she’s incredibly beautiful. And it helps she’s able to influence people.
Oh, and there is the King and his hateful twin. And the Queen. I still feel ashamed when I am around her because not only Aislinn, but she, too, witnessed the wish I made about her daughter. I’m surprised she didn’t kick my ass. After all, I asked – wished – her daughter to fall in love with me.
And that takes me to Damon. The king’s twin brother, but also my high-school principal. He wants something of me, but I don’t really understand what. By the time I figure it out, it’s too late.
What did you first think when… ?
When I met Aislinn? It was a test about difficult words. Well, difficult to everyone else. Our teacher of English asked what a Charactonym was, except he wrote charatonym and forgot the ‘c’ in the middle. That’s when Aislinn appeared: the most beautiful girl, and most certainly not interested in me. Imagine my surprise when she asked me – Me, can you imagine that? – if she could sit next to me. The teacher English – he had it in for me as well, simply because I once called him fat – even warned her not to do it. But she did.
I thought she was crazy. Out of her mind. They probably had to lock her in some asylum, or something. No girls were ever interested in me, but there was one who was. And she kept following me, too. That was the most frightening thing, too. She followed me to Chemistry – a class I generally sit alone.. And somehow she got our teacher so crazy that he paired her with me. That’s where she told me she loved riding horse. Naked.
What was the scariest thing in your adventures?
Well, I’m not supposed to talk about this. A lot of scary things took place with a lot of fighting and things going wrong, but the most scary thing happened when I met Aislinn’s father, the King, for the first time. Aislinn and I spend a night together. Mind you, there was no sex involved. I hate that. But still, she was in my bed and I really didn’t know what to do. I tried not to move at all, scared of what otherwise happened. And then, when I got arrested by the Twelve and they brought me to the King, he asked me how good his daughter was.
Can you imagine that?
Of course, he didn’t want to know about… Well, that unspeakable thing. And stop giggling, Aislinn. I was scared. Really scared. He’s your father. What kept him from doing unspeakable things to me because he believed I touched you? He never believed I didn’t, because I’m a boy. And boys… Ah!
[Aislinn steps in at this moment] That’s Monty, alright. He’s more scared of my father, the kindest man in Kalpana, than of the real villain: my uncle. I remember how he restored my life with a wish after he followed my uncle just to retrieve me. Or how he singlehandedly tricked an armed soldier to follow him – instead of Storm and me. Okay, so he crashed into a tree and knocked himself unconscious, but he stood up for me. And what about that time when you almost died? You protected everyone else – except yourself. When I look back at it, there are plenty of scary moments, but Monty always sailed right through them.
What is the worst thing about…?
Having autism? That people think you’re handicapped, simply because you tend to understand them literally. It’s hard to make friends because you don’t always know what to say. I say a lot, now. But in the book I mostly keep quiet and think my answers. That way no one can contradict them. That’s the beauty of this interview as well. You can’t contradict me.
Also, Storm sits by my side and forces me to answer these questions. He’s actually typing them in right now. He is at my one side and Aislinn is at my other, so they make sure I can’t run away. But the most difficult part is that they say I’m handicapped. And I’m not talking about the word, mind you. If they tell me I’m limited, that’s the precise same thing. It’s difficult because I’m not really handicapped. I’m handicapped because the world I live in decided I am handicapped. We’re the ones who have a hard time with flexibility, so what does our society do? They send help so we can be flexible, while they, who claim to be flexible, don’t change at all. Can someone explain that to me for a change?
Nah. Of course you can’t.
What is the best thing about it?
Shhht… I don’t want others to know, but if you can keep it a secret, I tell you. I sometimes use my autism to hide behind it. To say I can’t do that stuff because I have autism and certainly when I was still younger, that worked. Or, when others act autistic, I like to tell them that as well. I tell them I’m the one with autism, not them. It’s a game I often played with my Dad. He loved teasing me and so I teased him a lot with it, as well.
Tell us a little about your friends.
Storm and Aislinn you already know. There is Bill. I met him for the first time as our sheriff, only to discover later on he’s also the commander of the King’s bodyguards. And then there are those Twelve. I know two of them very well: Apryl and Eric. The first keeps a gun pointed at me (actually, it’s a Pacifier; a weapon that fires electric bolts), while the second tries to identify me the first time we met. But apart from that, they’re mostly nice. In fact, they’re going to help me a lot more in my future adventures.
Any romantic involvement?
I generally don’t answer questions you already know the answer to. But Storm forces me to make an exception. So, yes. I have a girlfriend, though she did most of the things needed to become that girlfriend. I admit I wished for it to happen, but I never figured she was so blinded by me that it actually happened because I don’t know what to do with a girlfriend. I’m not a particular fan of sharing bodily fluids like when she puts her tongue in my mouth. The idea alone!
But she does that. And, somehow, I let her. I guess I love her. But I don’t know why.
[Storm intervenes] And Aislinn used that love, especially when she wants to get things done her way. I admit, though, she often does it in the kindest way possible. But I still believe she uses him more than once. And it’s only because Monty has autism that he doesn’t always realize she does so.
Whom (or what) do you really hate?
My high-school principal, Damon Royal. Do you know what his first name stands for? Damon comes from the Greek word ‘daman,’ meaning ‘to tame’ or ‘subdue.’ Some may even argue it means ‘to kill’ and that’s exactly what he has in store for me. He kidnaps Mom, hurts Aislinn and wants to… hurt Storm. In the book I use the word Damon, in its meaning to kill. He’s the King’s brother, out to usurp the throne. And he does everything in his power to get it, too. He even plays with my emotions. The bastard!
Sorry about that. But he really is scum. I turn angry each time I think of him.
What’s your favourite drink, colour, and relaxing pastime?
I love to drink hot chocolate with my breakfast. And when I have nothing to do, I search for words in different languages or play games. I hate red, because I saw plenty of it when I found Dad beneath that collapsed wall… Damon Royal knows about that and he uses that color to hurt me.
What does the future hold for you?
If it’s up to me? I go home and try to rebuild a normal life. But I’m afraid that’s not in the cards. There is still Aislinn’s uncle to take care of. And somewhere in my future I hope I can marry the princess. I’m not really a fan of becoming a King, but since I’m a big fan of Aislinn, maybe that’s in my future as well. We’ll see what happens, because maybe she grows tired of me in a couple of weeks. Or months. I sometimes have that effect on people.
Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?
Okay. About my future. My distant future. This is something no one knows. I learned a lot of things during my first adventure in Kalpana, and I was a bit jealous of Aislinn, because her people are so much more understanding than the people I generally come in contact with. They even think I’m a star, or something.
So, I hope to find a connection with Kalpana. You see, my last name, Glupie, is the same last name as someone had in Kalpana – a thousand years ago. That someone was important, especially because he succeeded in defending Kalpana the first time. I want to investigate if there is a connection between me and Kalpana – before Aislinn showed up, that is. Do I have any ancestors in Kalpana? I don’t know, but I want to find out because I think there is a chance.
I can already tell you that there are surprises. I can’t yet fully disclose them, of course, I’m still investigating them. But it’s going to be fun. For me, at least.
Peter D’Hollander is a Tech Writer by day, a blogger (in a foreign language) by night and a Young Adult Fantasy writer all moments in between. He creates worlds he loves to live in, though they are probably as flawed as ours and marred with its little imperfections and twists. It took him ages to accept his own weirdness and today he lives and writes in a little town at the other side of the pond together with his wife, his three kids and a cat with a troublesome character.
You can find Monty on the pages of Children of Little Might.
Join us next time to meet a woman from a far off planet, fighting for her independence. Please follow the site by email (bottom-right) to be notified when the next interview is posted.