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Dear Miss Landau

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message 1: by James (new)

James Christie | 11 comments I'd say the general rule is not just to crash on and promote your book, so please note with care that I'm trying to skirt round that; but I can't avoid the fact that I have Asperger Syndrome and I lived and wrote one of the most incredible tales you will ever hear (the topic title's the book title), and said book was indeed written to inspire people with autism.

So if you'd like me to explain more (any Buffy fans there?), reply and I'll post earlier interviews and details, if that's okay with the moderator.


message 2: by Liz (new)

Liz Websdale | 3 comments Yes please. Tell me more James.


message 3: by James (new)

James Christie | 11 comments Liz wrote: "Yes please. Tell me more James."

Hi Liz

Here's the cover:

Dear Miss Landau by James Christie

and here is a link to my blogs on the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james...

which I hope works.

Dear Miss Landau is also published by Chaplin Books (www.chaplinbooks.co.uk) and available on Amazon in the UK and US, in paperback, ebook and audiobook format.

My author biography is also here on Goodreads and includes snippets and an RSS feed to these articles, but I'll try to add an early Chaplin interview and a press release re Dear Miss Landau's appearance on Radio 4.

It is important that the original "Prime Directive" was to inspire people with autism, and I would still like to do that.

Chaplin interview

1) How did you first get interested in Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

“Without giving too much of Dear Miss Landau (DML) away, let’s just say that Buffy’s tales of knights, demons, redemption and quests, relocated from the green and pleasant fields of King Arthur’s England and Hammer Films’ Transylvania to the stucco and adobe-adorned small town streets of Sunnydale struck a deep and abiding chord with me. The “all for one and one for all” camaraderie of the Scoobies was a badly-needed contrast to some of the nasty sides of human nature I was seeing at the time. Buffy really was a chink of light during a very dark time, and did lead to a real-life quest.”

2) What appealed to you about the character of Drusilla in particular?

“The absolute truth about my relationship with Drusilla is reserved for DML, but I will say that despite being an insane demonic killer, underneath the mask of the vampire was a shy, sweet girl who was a lot more pleasant than the racist xenophobes myself and a black colleague had been putting up with.

“In a word, the demon was kinder than the human, and I loved her dearly for it.

“As people with autism are generally not that empathic, I would say that my abnormally strong emotional connection with my dear old Dru is worth some academic study.”

3) You went on to write a trilogy of novellas about Drusilla. Is this when you first made contact with Juliet Landau?

“DML will detail the stops along the way to Sunset Boulevard, but when I began to write Drusilla’s Roses, the first tale of the trilogy, I basically went on a complete creative bender. I wrote, I would say, not a story about Dru, but the story which should have been written for her at the time of Buffy but wasn’t.

“In my opinion, the character of Drusilla had not been developed as fully as the other members of her vampire family – Spike, Angel and Darla – had been. It was as if Dru herself chose me to finish the job. I know how strange that sounds, but that’s how it felt at the time. There are any number of technically proficient writers around, but she needed someone who also loved her passionately, with all his heart and soul, and would fight to the last drop of his blood to bring her back.

“She needed her noble knight, and she found him.

“Then, when it was all over, there was nothing else I could do except put Dru in the care of her creator. So I sent Drusilla’s Roses to Hollywood, to an actress I did not know, whose middle name was Rose…”

4) You travelled alone across the US to meet her: what aspects of this did you, as an autistic man, find most difficult?

“You’d think the tale behind my last answer would be extraordinary enough for one lifetime, but yes, despite being tired, damaged, middle-aged and autistic, I broke with my routines and travelled alone across America.

“I am high functioning and I had done it before, but that had been twenty years earlier; and there’s many a man who remembers the days of his youth and dreams he may return to them, but knows deep down they’re gone for good.

“I mentioned quests before, and every grating moment I ground through the bureaucracy, the grudging return to shared dorms in backpacker hostels, the long roads across the US and the crossing of the Mojave, the image of my lady was ahead of me.

“Drusilla was my guide along the way, but Juliet was my muse.

“No great experience comes without hardship, and any man who embarks on such a road must be willing to fight to the last drop of his blood.

“And I told her, not long after, that I’d do it all again in a moment, even if I had to walk.”

5) What was the best moment of your trip?

“The original aim of the trip was to see the Californian locations I’d used for Drusilla’s Roses – Point Lobos and the house on Candlewood Drive – but in the end it was all for my dear Miss Landau.

“The best moment? Each and every time I saw her was the best moment.”

6) When were you first diagnosed as autistic?

“2002.”

7) What strengths do you think Autists possess that ‘ordinary’ people don’t have?

“It is an irony of the modern world that the greatest achievements are often only achieved after fifteen to twenty years of focused work, and often only by the minority who can achieve such focus. In general, the majority of ordinary neurologically-typical people (known as neuro-typicals) tend to be less focused and more prone to multi-tasking than the minority of people with autism. The majority of people are therefore (and I do stress that this is a huge generalisation) less likely to achieve exceptional results in a single area of study. With my “Asperger focus” (the name for the intense focus Autists can bring to bear on a single subject) helping me to develop my writing ability, it was perhaps more easy for me to reach the level I did than it would have been for a neuro-typical.”

8) Have you always been interested in writing?

“Writing has always been my best asset, but I’m not always interested in it. I also like girls. Especially shy vampire brunettes. The latent ability, however, was always there. I won a Daily Express short story competition in my early teens, won College Colours as a result of something interesting I did in my creative writing course, and edited the script for a film which won Glasgow University’s 1993 MacTaggart Prize. Then – after fifteen years trying to write the Great Scottish Novel – came Dru.”

9) Do you have a writing routine?

“I ought to stress to every young writer that they should be focused, diligent and practice every day; and that it is 95% perspiration and 5% inspiration. All of this is true, but I’ve grown increasingly tired of literary pretension, jargon and writers’ groups over the years.

“Granted, my creative writing tutor was a great man, and I did do my twenty years’ apprenticeship, but I broke every rule in the book writing Drusilla’s Roses while Dru looked happily over my shoulder. I had no plan, did not do that many drafts, and most of the time had no idea what I was going to do next. The primal beast got out, it was like Rocky Balboa going after Ivan Drago, and it was the greatest creative experience of my life.”

10) What’s your next project?

“Well, my story gets even more incredible. After I finished Drusilla’s Roses, Dru refused to allow herself to be pensioned off, so I then wrote Drusilla’s Redemption and Drusilla Revenant.

“Roses and Redemption are in Drusilla’s section of the Buffy writers’ guild web site, Charm School version: lessons in etiquette, but Drusilla Revenant has never been seen.

“This is because I think I found an unfinished story arc from the original TV series and, as well as incorporating Juliet Landau’s two-part Drusilla tale from Angel 24-25, Drusilla Revenant developed this arc and ends with an unbelievable twist which may well change fan perceptions of the Buffyverse.

“I also gave Dru a happy ending. I thought this time I’d finally managed to pension the old girl off, but yet again she found her way back. So once DML is finished I intend to write the fourth part of the trilogy, in which Spike and Dru go back into action again…

“There is a possibility the trilogy may be published and, at the risk of tilting recklessly at windmills, I think it (or elements from it) would be a better plot for the new Buffy movie than the current script which (due to a contractual stipulation) will probably just send the Slayer back to high school, without most of the beloved characters from the TV series.

“On a different tack, Dear Miss Landau was first conceived as a film as I was walking down the hill from Candlewood Drive. There is plot, theme, location and spectacle galore. Imagine Rain Man meeting Notting Hill via 84 Charing Cross Road, punctuated by a poetic set of articles written while I was going across the US, running for L.A. to meet the best and most beautiful gal in all the world one Sunday morning in March, on a boulevard west of Sunset…

“Any film producers out there listening?”

James A. F. Christie
21st July 2011

I'll try to get the press release into a separate reply. Not enough room here.

Best wishes

J.


message 4: by James (new)

James Christie | 11 comments Liz wrote: "Yes please. Tell me more James."

Dear Miss Landau

PRESS RELEASE
17 July 2012

‘THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ FOR TEN YEARS’ - TIM COATES

BBC RADIO 4 PROGRAMME ‘A GOOD READ’ REVIEWS ‘MAGICAL’ BOOK BY ASPERGER’S MAN

Speaking today on BBC Radio 4’s programme ‘A Good Read’, the former managing director of Waterstones and WHSmith, Tim Coates, described Dear Miss Landau by James Christie as “the best book I’ve read for ten years.”

The book was one of three being discussed on the programme by Tim Coates, former head of comedy at the BBC, Jon Plowman, and presenter Harriett Gilbert.
Coates said Dear Miss Landau was “magical from beginning to end” and was “beautifully accurate” about what it is like to be autistic. Harriett Gilbert added that seeing the world through James Christie’s eyes was “really riveting” because, unlike books such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, James’ autism was real, not merely a novelist’s ‘device’ - and unlike many memoirs which purport to be accurate but turn out not to be so - “what you’re getting with Dear Miss Landau is the truth.”
James Christie (born 1964), who lives and works in Glasgow, was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 2002 and despite feeling like an alien - a ‘Mr Spock’ adrift in a world of neuro-typicals - he discovered a strong talent for writing, which eventually led him to send a fan-fiction story to Juliet Landau, a Hollywood star who had played Drusilla in the cult TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Though he had not expected a reply, their correspondence blossomed, and eventually James Christie - with the support of the National Autistic Society in Scotland - took a solo road-trip across America to meet Miss Landau on Sunset Boulevard.

In ‘A Good Read’, Jon Plowman expressed astonishment that Christie had managed to reach Juliet Landau, because even the secretaries-of-secretaries of Hollywood people are notoriously difficult to reach, and he said he wished he’d been able to see the fan-fiction story that Christie sent which made Juliet Landau agree to meet him.

Dear Miss Landau by James Christie charts his life as an Autist, his correspondence with Juliet Landau, and his 5,000-mile journey across America to meet her. It has been written with the full cooperation of Juliet Landau and is illustrated with photographs of her as well as pictures from Christie’s road-trip. It was published by Chaplin Books on 14 March 2012 at £8.99 (ISBN 978-0-9565595-6-2).

Back-cover blurb from the book:

Every morning James Christie puts on a blue rugby shirt and a pair of jeans. His wardrobe is full of neatly hung, identical outfits. Every day he eats the same meal and drinks from the same mug. These are not ingrained habits, but survival techniques. For James, coping with new experiences feels like smashing his head through a plate-glass window, and the only relief comes from belting the heavy-bag at the boxing club, or watching re-runs of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He is an autistic man adrift in a world of neuro-typicals. Differently wired. Alien.

Despite an IQ that places him in the top three percent of the population, it looks likely he’ll spend the next 20 years cleaning toilets at a motorway service station. But then his life takes an astonishing turn - one that will take him from a tenement in Glasgow to a meeting with a Hollywood star on Sunset Boulevard.

On that journey by Greyhound across America, the man who believes he has no soul will find it. Eight time-zones and 5,000 miles away, he has a breakfast date with the actress who played Drusilla, the kooky vampire whose strangely comforting presence has inhabited his flat ever since she first came to his attention late one evening in a Buffy episode. Drusilla has no soul either. And maybe that’s the attraction. But Drusilla is only a TV character. The person waiting for him on Sunset will be Juliet Landau. She’s real, and that’s a very different proposition...

For further information contact Amanda Field (chaplinbooks@virginmedia.com) or call 02392 529 020

* James Christie is available for interview. James Christie is a fluent speaker and highly personable. He is also able to talk about wider issues on autism.

Hi Liz,

I hope that will do for a starter. Come to think of it, I think my bio has access to an audio interview as well.

Best wishes

J.


message 5: by Liz (new)

Liz Websdale | 3 comments Thank you James.


message 6: by James (new)

James Christie | 11 comments No problem!


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