Tag Archives: Autism spectrum

This Plague of Days and The Big Bang Theory and Autism

It’s past time I write something about autism as it’s presented in This Plague of Days. I’ve heard from happy readers who are related to people with autism or who have developmental issues. They all love the protagonist, Jaimie Spencer, because he’s on the autism spectrum. Later on in the story, Jaimie makes some very normal and logical yet scary choices. I hope readers will still love him when they see some of the things he’ll ultimately be responsible for.

Deep down, This Plague of Days is a little like all my books. Good versus evil doesn’t interest me. The choices are too stark. But Bad versus Evil? Complex motivations where the good isn’t all good and the bad isn’t all bad…or at least well-intentioned and understandable? Yes, that interests me very much. So far, readers agree and thank you very much if you’ve bought, dug and left a happy review for This Plague of Days.

As I write and revise Season 3, the world is getting darker. Season 3 answers the questions posed all the way back from Season One. One of the mysteries of the series* is Jamie Spencer. He’s a selective mute on the autistic spectrum. That surely makes him an unlikely champion in the apocalypse and unique in the genre. However, he’d be unique if this were a simple family drama.

My beloved wife, Dr. She Who Must Be Obeyed, is a school psychologist. She said the sentence that spurred this post:

The key thing to know about anyone on the spectrum is this:

When you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person.

Everyone is different and autism affects each person differently. Some are extremely visual thinkers. Many are very high-functioning people and the list of well-known people on the spectrum might astonish you (click here for that). There’s much speculation that some of the greatest thinkers and inventors in history were autistic. Though never diagnosed, Tesla, certainly, comes to mind. (Love Tesla and you’ll learn why if you click this link, but I digress.)

When asked, I tell readers that Jaimie has Aspergers with some interesting variations, like selective mutism and synaesthesia. He’s unique, as all people are.

The term “Aspergers” has fallen out of favor in professional circles. That may be a great thing. I’m not sure. Mere labels can’t help the individual, but sometimes they help others understand people on the autistic spectrum. Generally, many people would recognize stereotypical Aspergers traits in someone like Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. The show’s producers have stated on many occasions they are not holding the comical character up as the poster boy for autism and he doesn’t represent any group.

I don’t want anyone to think Jaimie represents such a vast and varied community, either. He’s a fictional character who’s delving into deep matters of religion, mortality and immortality while dealing with people infected with three varieties of a deadly plague. His family unit and their problems relating to each other provides a realistic context and special challenges at the end of the world as we know it. He’s a wonderful character to write and he adds layers and depth to what otherwise be a pretty silly story. Jaimie’s point of view makes humans versus zombies versus vampires work.

Why make the protagonist a person on the autistic spectrum?

I could catalogue the artistic reasons to do so, but the short answer is, why the hell not? He’s a person first. The way his brain works is peculiar, but secondary. Despite how different he is, I (and many readers) connect with Jaimie Spencer emotionally, not as a mere intellectual curiosity. Jaimie’s a genius, but he’s no freak.

How does autism play into This Plague of Days?

At one end of the spectrum, autistics don’t develop language skills. With his special interest in words and their origins, especially in Latin, Jaimie does not lack language skills. In fact, selective mutism has nothing to do with autism. Fans of The Big Bang Theory will recognize the problem as an anxiety disorder (which, until recently, afflicted the character of Raj on the show.)

However, on a couple of occasions, I admit that I do indeed tackle issues around autism. It would be weird if I didn’t address those natural consequences, wouldn’t it? It’s tricky, in that autism is another obstacle in the family’s struggles at the end of civilization, but the story is not all about autism.

I came at the issue sideways, in character development.

We learn about Jaimie through his actions and we see how he sees the world. Anna Spencer relates to Jaimie in a very natural way. She’s protective of him when outsiders are involved, but within the family, it’s all sibling rivalry and older sister irritation at a little brother. There’s friction there as there is in many families. I purposely avoided Anna being too precious with him. Of all the people in Jamie’s world, Anna is the one who most treats him as if he’s not unusual.

Before the plague struck, Jaimie’s mother, Jacqueline (Jack) Spencer, struggled with the school and medical systems to get help for her son. She often wishes Jaimie was not on the spectrum. Meanwhile, Theo Spencer, Jaimie’s father, almost seems in denial. While Jack wishes her son were different, Theo accepts Jaimie as he is rather than fixating on changing him. The parents aren’t on the same page and one’s a complex atheist while the other’s faith is hard to hold on to in the face of so much horror. More fun family dynamics to mine there.

As we progress through This Plague of Days, you’ll find that Jaimie is changing. He’s getting wiser and, to survive, he has to learn how to lie. He’s discovering the new world’s secrets. In Season 3, Jaimie is much different from when we first met him. Travelling the road in the apocalypse will do that to anyone, but I don’t find he’s any less likeable. He’s just more complex and less sure of himself. The challenges ahead are too difficult for him to resist transformation.

In the final scene, readers will have a choice.

Some people reading This Plague of Days will also be transformed.

 

*A note to fans of Seasons 1 and 2 of This Plague of Days

In the third season, this officially becomes a series, not a serial. This Plague of Days will be sold as a trilogy in one complete book (This Plague of Days, The Complete Trilogy) assuming CreateSpace can handle printing a book that big. It will also be sold as Season 3 in paper so, if you got 1 and 2 in paperback, you’ll have a third to round out the collection on your shelf. Finally, of course, I’ll put it out as an ebook this spring. After that, I’ll be peddling it to Hollywood for a movie, I suppose. Or make it a graphic novel. Or get it on HBO with Alexander Skarsgard as Misericordia. Who knows?

However, unlike Seasons 1 and 2, there won’t be any releases of weekly episodes for Season 3. Despite my best efforts, there are still some readers who get confused about serialization, so I’m letting that go. The Law of Diminishing Returns had kicked in, anyway, so onward to a very dramatic conclusion. A lot of people you love will die in unexpected ways. Some will live to receive surprising, wonderful rewards. I’m going to be a little sad to finish the journey with Jaimie, but it’s going to be a wild ride right to the end. 

 

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This Plague of Days, Season 2: Expect more action

TPOD season 1 ecoverI completed the original manuscript for This Plague of Days a few years ago. Every day I headed over to the local Starbucks and typed on a little pad called a Neo. (Yes, I’m aware of the Starbucks/writing cliché and, no, I don’t care.) I finished that iteration of the manuscript at around a quarter of a million words. It’s a sprawling story with a big cast. The Stand is one of my favorite books and I guess that shows through. However, I wasn’t content with publishing models as they existed at that time. Now, between ebook distribution and the benefits of serialization, I have a book that’s gaining traction. (Check out the great reviews here, for instance.)

What’s up next for Jaimie Spencer?

Season One had a lot of character development as we delved into Jaimie Spencer’s handicaps and his powers. Everyone loves Jaimie, but we haven’t seen all he can do yet. He’s a selective mute on the autism spectrum, so it’s always significant when he chooses to speak. In Season Two, it’s still significant, but under special circumstances, he’s going to be a bit more talkative. I love writing this character!

What’s up for Shiva?

Ah, the devil in the red dress has yet to deliver her baby and she’s finding some changes in her body that aren’t explainable by pregnancy. She and Jaimie meet for the first time.

Has the British invasion finally started?

Yes. The infected invade the United States on two fronts! I’m telling you there are big surprises coming. That warning won’t help you.

What about the survivors from London?

The Brit refugees, led by Dr. Craig Sinjin-Smythe, are getting some military assistance but they’re having trouble catching up with Shiva. New cast members are added and others are lost to a bad case of Zombie Surprise. 

Who are the new characters?

There’s a small assortment of military personnel, an Irish policeman I like named Desmond Walsh and a busker/street preacher named Gus. Expect a touch of romance and meet a new villain to add to the mounting dangers to the Spencers. Also, a villain from Season One reappears.

How is Season Two going to be different from Season One?

Someone on my beta reader team noticed that the pacing in Season Two has amped up. We know these characters so now there’s lots of room for more high-stakes action with people we care about. The Latin phrases and fascination with words isn’t going away, but the fallout from Sutr-X and Sutr-Z is really hitting home now. Your home. 

The expected publication date for Season Two of This Plague of Days is the end of September. If you’d like a heads up when it comes out, or chances to win prizes and see advanced reading copies, click here to go to my author site  for details.

Sign up for the free newsletter and you also get a shout out on the next All That Chazz podcast.

The All That Chazz podcast returns next week!

 


#Free #ebook: An #autistic hero faces the end of the world

As of 2:30 pm, here’s the Amazon ranking #23 in Dystopian and #29 Post-Apocalyptic!

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 2.47.32 PM

 

UPDATE: 

3:30 PM: #1 in Post-Apocalyptic and #2 in Dystopian!

Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 3.20.53 PM

Push it higher on Amazon’s main list with a happy click and get Episode One free now. You’re going to love it!

This Plague of Days, Episode One

is free on Amazon until midnight tomorrow night.

Do you enjoy reading:

  • a book that allows you to see the world in a new way?
  • apocalyptic scenaria where the fate of God and humankind are debated?
  • Latin phrases and wordplay?
  • international thrillers with weird and scary terrorists?
  • zombies unlike what you’ve come to expect?
  • tension that crawls up your spine and into your brain?
  • about a sweet, innocent autistic boy who rarely speaks but has hidden talents that might save the world?

If any of that appeals to you as a horror reader, click the cover below and get on board the braingasm train.

Still not sure you want that first crunchy, salty potato chip? Then get more details here.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get 5 episodes at 99 cents each or the whole Season for $3.99. Season Two hits the world at the end of September.

~ Robert Chazz Chute is a novelist, podcaster and former newspaper and magazine journalist. This Plague of Days is his ninth book. See all his books here.


Understanding Jaimie Spencer: An excerpt from This Plague of Days, Season 2

From today’s revisions of TPOD, Season 2:

Jaimie contented himself watching auras. The people who had arrived by car or truck were obvious. Their feet didn’t hurt. Many were bent from back pain. He surmised that at one time the refugees had tried to carry much more weight. What had once been considered necessary was now a heavy trinket, abandoned by the side of the road and soon forgotten. The Apocalypse did not tolerate nostalgia and survival living in the same dark, cramped room. Jaimie saw everyone’s skull that way.

No matter what dangers lurked in their bodies, their crown chakras were always busy trying to sort out each individual’s place in the world before their inevitable exit. He felt sorry for them. Such struggle cried out for pity. If he could speak, he’d tell them the truth of their existence. He wanted to relieve them of their heavy burdens, but there were too many and their needs were too great.

~ Want to get a free ebook? It’s easy. Go here.

 


Season One of the World’s First Autistic Zombie Apocalypse Novel is Complete!

Just 99 vents for each of five episodes or grab the discount and get all of Season One for $3.99.

Just 99 vents for each of five episodes or grab the discount and get all of Season One for $3.99.

Season Two arrives in September. Grab Season One now.

NEW REVIEWS!

5.0 out of 5 stars A high-brow zombie serial Max Brooks could be proud of…, July 15, 2013
This review is from: This Plague of Days Season One (The Zombie Apocalypse Serial) (Kindle Edition)

I think this storyline is brilliant. It’s not your cliched, run-of-the-mill zombie apocalypse story. It’s character driven. It’s cerebral. It’s awesome. The first episode of This Plague of Days is the perfect balance of back story, anecdotes, and the events of the present crisis. Jaime, the main character, is fantastically written and surprisingly well thought out. His diagnosis on the Autism Spectrum (formerly known as Aspergers), combined with his synthesesia (seeing emotions as color-auras) is a fresh aspect to an otherwise well-known genre. Reading on, I admit I was nervous that the remaining episodes wouldn’t pack the same punch. I was wrong, they did.

Jaime is an infuriating character to withstand during such a terrifying predicament-which is why he’s awesome. You find yourself screaming at the page for him to speak up, to warn others to what he sees. And that’s when you realize just how invested in the characters you are. And his isn’t the only well-developed character. Chute often provides glimpses into the pasts of some of the others and it’s so well-written, you forget for a moment that the world is in turmoil…but just for a moment before you’re clobbered over the head again with suspense, tension, and terror.

In the end, all the immediate conflicts were resolved in a satisfying way, not rushed, not unrealistic. There’s plenty of ground to cover next season, and the last few lines will leave you guessing and impatiently waiting for Season Two of This Plague of Days.

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!, July 15, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: This Plague of Days Season One (The Zombie Apocalypse Serial) (Kindle Edition)

This Plague of Days scares me to death! I just can’t put it down; I have to see what happens next. Bring on Season Two!

 

 

 


This Plague of Days: The action rises. London falls.

See the end of the world through the eyes of an autistic boy. You’ll begin to see everything differently.

Please click the cover to learn more.

TPOD Episode 3

 


Episode Two of This Plague of Days: Everything breaks

Read This Plague of Days. (And please, wash your hands frequently.)

This Plague of Days, Episode One (99 cents)

This Plague of Days, Episode Two (99 cents)

or

just grab

This Plague of Days, Season One

at a discount for only $3.99.

TPOD Episode 2


My GoodReads review of This Plague of Days: I wouldn’t believe it. You’ll have to read it.

This Plague of Days, Season 1This Plague of Days, Season 1 by Robert Chazz Chute

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote it so, yeah, five stars from me. It’s like two books in one where two groups of interesting characters are on a collision course. The stakes? Human extinction and the lives of people we care about. But since I wrote it, I wouldn’t believe me, either. I guess if apocalyptic fiction with more Latin phrases than Harry Potter has spells intrigues you, you’ll have to read it to see for yourself. I hope you enjoy it.

View all my reviews

 


#Video: This Plague of Days

This Plague of Days pits an autistic boy against a rising zombie horde. As the world we know comes apart, the infected become cannibals. Take elements of The Stand and

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

The Zombie Apocalypse serial is here. Get it week to week for a scary summer or get the whole season.

Cell, mix in World War Z and 28 Days Later with a terrorist plot and a strange boy with an obsession for Latin phrases and wham! It’s a zombie apocalypse you’re going to love.

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy and his family versus The Running Dead

Get it week to week and episode by episode for just 99 cents or get all of Season 1 at a discount now.


This Plague of Days launches today! Think of it as the Ungrateful Living versus The Running Dead

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

An autistic boy + The Stand + 28 Days Later = This Plague of Days

 

TPOD season 1 ecoverThis Plague of Days is kind of like two books in one. It begins with a world flu pandemic that makes civilization grind to a halt. Then the virus mutates to a form of human rabies that turns ordinary people into cannibals. As a terrorist organization works to spread the contagion, the new strain of the virus rises with the mayhem. In the heartland of an America falling apart, a boy on the autism spectrum discovers he has curious abilities in the midst of the chaos. A war is coming as forces for good and evil come together on a collision course. 

I’m so excited to finally release season one. You can get the episodes week by week for 99 cents each or buy the full first season for just $3.99. (Take the discount!) If you enjoy the book, please do review it. 

Thanks to Kit Foster of Kit Foster Design for his great work on this project (and there’s more to come for the print version.)

Thanks to the editorial team at Ex Parte Press. Many thanks for your suggestions as I built this huge story. Season Two arrives in September.

 

 

 


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