Melissa A. JoyMelissa A. Joy is a new fantasy author who challenges the conventional expectations of fantasy and takes them to a whole new level. She believes in the existence of all things fantastical, and that anything is possible. 

She began building the world of Aeldynn and started writing seriously aged 13, and has since developed it into something truly magical worth sharing. From the glorious winged Drahknyr and wise and fearsome dragons to pirates of the high seas and a world rich with history and lore, her imagination could be said to be limitless. 

When she isn’t locked in a reverie about what’s going on in the world of Aeldynn, she’s probably out sailing the high seas on a tall ship, gaming, or perhaps dressed up in costume at an anime convention. 

We asked Melissa a few questions about her autism and writing...

When were you diagnosed?

I was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome approximately six years ago at the age of 26, having experienced a number of social and employment-related problems over the years. I have spent the last decade out of work, and not for want of trying. I have been through numerous work training schemes and been offered very few interviews, expanded on further education by achieving a proofreading diploma and degree in English Language and Creative Writing (Open University), and I have endeavoured to find voluntary work and been met with rejection on all fronts - and for the most part still am. While I am trying to tackle my anxiety and depression and am now a self-published author, I nevertheless remain in the same situation and continue the battle to move forward.

How does your autism affect you?

  • I appear to have an inherent understanding of the meaning of words/language functionality. When I was a very young child it was thought I might never grow out of using phonetic spelling, yet English became my best subject and I excelled in it. However, I didn't work in the way I was expected to, so my grades weren't always as good as they could have been.
  • I have a few heightened senses, including hearing, smell and intuition/discernment. I am extremely sensitive to certain types of light.
  • I think I have some disassociation issues, in that too much information in general seems to impact on my ability to learn, and too many questions/subjects tangle my thoughts.
  • I fear I lack intellect when I am presented with arguments I have an understanding of but cannot put into words vocally; in writing, it's an entirely different affair.
  • I have been told by the mother of a friend with Asperger's that I have a deep and intuitive understanding of people that has come across in my writing (she has read Keys of the origin), which I am told is unusual in someone with autism (that many find it difficult to put themselves in the shoes of others).
  • I absorb meaning from all forms of entertainment media that interest me. In particular, music creates such powerful imagery that I might as well be watching the cinema in my mind's eye; it's like I am remembering all the concepts brought to mind. I usually find that I cannot write at all unless I have the right kind of piece of music on for the right kind of scene.
  • I am very much tuned into nature, and consider myself to be spiritual.
  • I have anxiety and depression.
  • I often play video-games to escape.

Keys of the origin - front coverWhen did you start writing? 

I decided I wanted to be a fantasy author at the age of 13; I'll be 32 this year. Keys of the origin was published two years ago in 2016 shortly before I turned 30. It took a long time to get there, but with the assistance of my editor, who found excerpts of my writing on a basic website I made some years ago, my work has now been published and I'll soon be starting to take over my own self-publishing endeavours with his continued support. Becoming a published author was all I really wanted. When Keys of the origin was finished, and I heard some other authors had been sending submissions to agents for up to a decade before they landed a publishing deal, I decided to go self-published and hope that one day an agent or traditional publisher will take interest. 

How does it feel to be a published author?

Having my debut fantasy novel published along with continued editorial support has boosted my confidence as a writer, especially with a number of positive reviews coming back from that first book.   

It is my hope that I can express to others on the autistic spectrum that we can achieve. My work is out there. I have Asperger syndrome and I am a self-published author with a book that's available at many online retailers. It's a start. It's an achievement. The road is difficult, and it can be slow and depressing. It's certainly not easy trying to reach new readers, to build a fan base and get noticed as an indie/self-published author, and possibly more difficult for someone on the autistic spectrum to get their head around. As difficult as it is, I'm not giving up. Dreams can come true if we persevere. We need to show the world (especially other autistic people) that we can achieve if we persevere in what we are passionate about and in what motivates us. 

I believe creativity and talent are vital to the wellbeing and success of people with Asperger syndrome and other forms of autism; it needs to be showcased/featured. Perhaps more people, especially employers, will then see how diverse and talented we can be.  

What's next for you?

My first short story collection, Endeavours of the unsung, was published in April, and I am also currently working on the second book in the Scions of Balance saga. 

Follow Melissa's work at: 

www.aeldynnlore.com
https://www.facebook.com/DefineImagineMJ
https://twitter.com/DefineImagineMJ

Read another interview with Melissa on Geek Club Books