Autistic writer hopes novel will inspire youth to succeed

Autistic writer hopes novel will inspire youth to succeed

SMITHFIELD – For 28-year-old Smithfield resident Rachel London, writing about living a successful life with autism in her first book, out this February, was practicing the phrase “write what you know.”

London was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and struggled through her early learning years in school due to a lack of resources and information about autism.

“My autism gave me the gift that allows me to tell a story that hopefully can read to people to understand our experiences,” she said.

She turned to writing as a channel for her frustrations, and artistic creativity. In her youth, her parents would get angry with her for staying up past her bedtime to write stories, mostly young adult novels.

“All the time, I wrote all the time,” London said.

“When you’re autistic, you need an outlet. Writing was mine,” London said.

A recent graduate with a master’s degree in English and creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University, London said she would not have gotten as far in life if it was not for the support of her parents, Linda and David London, and teachers.

She began writing her first published book, “The Time Capsule Diary: How will you be remembered when you die?” as her master’s thesis, and realized it could be relatable to other autistic youth.

“I knew someone would be able to relate to my story,” London said.

Throughout her youth, London said she dealt with bullying from students and mistreatment from teachers only due to a lack of information about autism. Thanks to the support of some “brilliant teachers who fought for me and kept me from losing my mind,” London was determined to be successful.

“I don’t want another child going through that,” she said.

She turned to realistic fictional books in the young adult realm as her subject. Though London volunteers in the children’s section at the Greenville Public Library, she said she does not have a knack or the patience to write children’s books.

The novel, which took around three years to write, centers around the diary of an autistic woman, Gracie Elizabeth Paris Amethyst, as she contemplates the end of her life and the legacy she wants to leave behind.

The diary, filled with moments from Gracie’s life, goes from her as an awkward little girl to her teen years, and finally to a mature young woman showcasing her struggles with bullies to mistakes she made in life.

“I wanted to express that autistic people can do whatever they want as long as they have support,” London said. She added that it was vital for her to keep the book relatable to youth.

London said Gracie writes her diary in hopes of teaching others that people with autism can do anything people without autism. She, too, kept journals from a young age.

“They just might have to do things slightly differently,” London said.

London said she hopes her book can serve as an educational piece for autistic youth who cannot advocate for themselves and help others better understand people with autism.

She said the most critical lesson her parents taught her was that no matter how tough things are, things will get better. London said her work also helps to keep the memory of her father, who died several years ago, alive.

“You have to keep fighting,” she said. “I think we all struggle with things. People can realize they’re not alone.”

London is working on her second novel now, which will keep the young adult theme focused on the struggles of autistic youth.

“I’m a hopeless perfectionist,” London said of writing another novel. She said while she loves writing, editing is not as easy. She said she is grateful for the staff at Pen It! Publications for helping along the way.

“Time Capsule” is available for purchase on Amazon, and on the publisher’s Pen It! Publication online bookstore at London said Greenville Library also has a copy of the book for loan.