Autism has been a hot topic for at least two decades, but mainstream media and literature is replete with material written about autistic people rather than by autistic people. At Autonomous Press, we’re one of the independent publishers set on radically change that. That’s why AutPress’ catalog heavily features fiction with autistic characters created by autistic writers. If you’re looking for new books to keep you company this fall, you’ll want to add “Shaping Clay: The Elemental Trilogy” to your list.
Autistic Storytelling From the Inside Out
Autistic readers may feel an eerie sense of recognition when they immerse themselves in the saga of Clay Dillion. Currently at three books and counting, “Shaping Clay: The Elemental Trilogy” includes:
- Nothing Is Right
- Imaginary Friends
Nothing Is Right introduces us to Clay Dillon, a young autistic child starting first grade. As you read, you peer over his shoulder while he experiences frustration, sensory overload, self-injury and the sheer panic of suddenly being unable to speak. The author’s storytelling method focuses on autistic characters’ experiences and in this case, depicts Clay’s struggle between desiring to be known for who he truly is and retreating from the pain that comes from how others treat him.
Clay’s story arc continues in both Defiant and Imaginary Friends. Defiant shows us Clay at age 30, finally discovering that he is, indeed, autistic. With this new knowledge comes more challenges as he questions what his desires are, and even who he is, while his world shifts around him. Published in 2016, Imaginary Friends takes a journey to earlier in Clay’s timeline, showing readers the hellish world around him that the adults in his life construct.
Engaging Books That Keep You Reading
This is not literature that gazes at autistic characters from the outside. Author and AutPress partner Athena Lynn Michaels-Dillon opens a portal to give readers a view from the inside. Going beyond the issue of autistic representation, the works in “Shaping Clay: The Elemental Trilogy” are intensely gripping with a ferocity that both affects deeply and rewards you for journeying through the hells Clay Dillon encounters. As one reviewer put it, “I started reading Imaginary Friends in the evening, big mistake. Dawn was just breaking when I finally finished, tears in my eyes, wanting more.”