My name is Nicholas Anderson. Planet Ripple is a project I've been working on for several years, and I drew and wrote everything attached to the name. I am also autistic. Most people may not know that I have autism now unless it was explicitly pointed out to them, but when I was a child it was pretty evident and intense. Minnow, the lead character of my series, is also autistic in addition to being physically disabled. There are other characters with difficulties of their own, both physical and mental. That said, the story isn't just about disabilities because nobody is just their disability. That isn't their entire personality. There's always more to learn about them. When you compound it with the everyday struggles people already go through, or more personal things like grief, it adds this extra layer that can make those things even more overwhelming, raise those hurtles to overcome ever higher. However, they're still the same human struggles, and I think anybody should be able to relate. It's a story about how people treat each other.
I use the ocean as a metaphor for this. If the whole world is flooded, everyone who makes it to the surface makes a ripple. Everyone has an effect. It's the great equalizer, it "remembers" everyone. Even something as small as a Minnow.
I also use Minnow's prosthetic arms and legs as a metaphor for her experience. "Reaching out," trying to create new connections with people, it can be like feeling your way around the dark. You don't know when you're going to hit something or if you're even feel it there.
Spreading awareness of conditions like autism is only the first step. I don't think it's enough. It's easy to make people aware of things that may seem scary about the condition, and foster harmful attitudes towards people who have it. The most important step is to spread acceptance of autistic individuals, and that begins with understanding. I want to help more people who don't have it see the world the way we see it and connect with that. I think it's important not only that this group be positively represented in media so they can be inspired by the characters they see in stories, but that neurotypical people can come to understand those with the condition better. Like me, Minnow is at a point in her life where in most conversations people may not even pick up on it, but that's just the side they see. When that conversation ends, we still spend the rest of the day facing the same personal challenges we do every day. No one in the story ever outright calls out what her condition is by name, but there are enough flashbacks to her youth and other, more current scenes where the symptoms manifest that people who have seen these symptoms before in real life or know someone who has them or even have these symptoms themselves will notice and realize, "Oh. She's autistic. Okay, neat." Minnow's struggle is the emotional core of Planet Ripple, but if that was its only selling point, it may not be interesting enough to catch on. It could feel more like a PSA than an actual story with resolution, character growth and a world that feels alive. Just as she is not her condition, Minnow does not live in a void where nothing affects her. I want Minnow to go places. I want her to thrive. In the contents of this series of books, I've developed a whole world for Minnow to live in, and I hope readers find it to be compelling. See Nicholas’ website with more information at: www.planetripple.com
Nicholas will be giving a talk at the Bangor Public Library at 5:30pm and will be exhibiting images from the series from April 1st to May 31st.