Alex Lowery speaks about autism

Ellie a female character who is on the Autistic Spectrum

Written on 24th May 2017 by Sylvia Lowery
A drawing of Ellie by Alice Lowery.

A drawing of Ellie by Alice Lowery.

                                                                                                       Ellie

 

Thanks to Esther Lowery for sharing this interesting character with us. We can’t wait to read the whole story.

I wrote this in order to develop the main character of my new YA contemporary novel, which revolves around Ellie and her single mother Morgana as they move to a small town in Wales and get to know the people there. This big move is quickly followed by Morgana’s father being diagnosed with cancer and Ellie struggling with being harassed by a boy in school. I haven’t fully developed the plot yet, but that’s the basic outline. I was struggling with Ellie as a character, since I intend to write the novel from her point-of-view, but I couldn’t get in her head. So I decided to do a character interview, so that I could understand her better. This was particularly important, since this novel will be very much character-driven, as opposed to plot-driven like a lot of my other speculative-fiction stuff. 

Character interview with Ellie

 

 

1. What are you most proud of but afraid of sharing? I’m not really sure. I guess I’m proud of my writing, and I really don’t like sharing it with people…

2. Do you consider yourself liked or disliked by others? Why? I don’t think I’m especially well-liked, but I’m not particularly likable, so… Besides, I’ve got my mum. She’s my best friend, she’s all I really need.

3. Are you afraid of being your true self around others? Why? I guess. I’m a pretty private person. I don’t really like to talk to new people about important or deep stuff, or even my interests. And I hate small talk. I’m terrible at it anyway.

4. “More than anything, I want to be comfortable with myself.”

5. “If I could change anything about myself, I would be a lot less awkward. I’d be better with people. And…I guess I’d be prettier. I’m not really pretty and…I’d like to be.”

6. “I think my greatest strengths, abilities and skills are that I’m pretty good at writing. And I have a great memory, I can memorise anything. I also have a really diverse group of interests. I love history and botany and films and a bunch of other stuff. I also love books. I can read really quickly and I read constantly.”

7. What is your biggest regret? …Sometimes I guess I regret that…I was born. I kind of messed up my mum’s life. I mean, she seems happy and I know she loves me a lot, but…she had this whole future in front of her. She was gonna go to university, become a journalist and go all over the world. I…sometimes feel like I ruined that. Because she had me, she ended up dropping out of school at fourteen and living rough for years. And she had a bunch of issues with her mum and dad. And…I sort of feel like it was my fault.

8. What are some lessons in life you’ve had to learn the hard way? I…guess that not everyone is always honest about their intentions. When I was back in primary school, this girl pretended to be my friend and got me to come to this big hill up behind our school. Then she pushed me down and laughed at me, along with her friends who’d been hiding. I ended up skinning my forearms and my left leg. I still have scars from it. Before that…I knew I was kind of weird, I didn’t talk to people much, but I didn’t realise how much most people dislike me. Either way, I took it on board. I haven’t trusted someone like that since, except my mum of course.

9. What is your deepest need? I don’t know really. I…guess maybe I need people to want me around?

10. What is your darkest secret? I…don’t really feel super comfortable talking about this. Ughh. Fine. I guess it’d be that when I was seven, I met my grandmother for the first time. She…my mum doesn’t know about this, so you can’t tell her. But…Nan told me that I was a waste of air. That I ruined her daughter’s life. I…never told my mum about it, but it’s…stuck with me, I guess.

11. What is your greatest fear? That one day Mum’ll realise how much she’s wasting her life with me. That she’ll finally do what Nan’s been wanting her to do for years and drop me off in the foster care system and actually get on with her life. And, on a less serious note, I’m terrified of moths. Don’t laugh, they’re terrifying!
12. What if you had to give up something very valuable for another? What would it be? My relationship with my mother. Definitely. It’s the most important thing in my life. Ironically, Mum’s the only person I care enough about to give it up for.

13. What if you were to decide a person’s fate? What types of people would you consider worthy or unworthy?  I….wouldn’t. I don’t think I could ever do that. People can’t be sorted into categories of worthy and unworthy. I mean, I guess murderers and people like that’d be pretty unworthy, but I don’t know.

14. What if you had to choose one thing to do the rest of your life? What would it be? I’d write. And I’d live in a library, duh.

15. What if everyone doubted your abilities? How would you overcome? I’d work hard to prove them wrong. And once I did, I might…rub it in their faces a bit. Just a bit though.

16. What if you had to compete against others to live? How would you find courage? I’d think of my mum and how much it would hurt her to lose me. And I’d do it for her.

17.  If you knew you were going to die in the next year, what would you do differently? I guess I’d work harder in school. I tend to slack a bit. And I’d redecorate my room to look exactly like I’ve always wanted it to look. Also, I’d get even more books. Not like I’d need any uni money. And I’d go up to Nan and tell her exactly what I think of how she treated Mum.

18.  In what ways are you most like your enemies that you hate? I can be pretty judgemental. I’m kind of lazy, but neither of my grandparents are like that. I tend to act before I think? And I don’t like it when things don’t happen like I planned. I can be really rigid.

19.  Which relationships in your family/life are the best? The worst? Hands down, the best relationship I have is with my mum. She’s basically my everything. And the worst would be with my grandparents. Although I haven’t been getting on well with the caretaker at my school. I’m pretty sure he’s certain I’m up to something.

20.  “People have no idea what it’s like to be me. I’ve been through homelessness and through bullying but I want to be better. I’d kind of like to open a homeless shelter, actually.”

21.  “It’s not my fault for being rigid if everyone would do everything according to plan, I wouldn’t get annoyed.”

22.  “I’m tired of always being the one to try and smooth things over with my grandparents when I should be the one who watches as my mum smooths it over. They’re her parents!”

23.  “I wish I had someone with whom I could share my love of books. Mum’s not a big reader.”

 

 

Excerpt from Story:

 

The room was warm, a roaring fire blazing in the hearth. Through the window, the dying rays of the sun brushed their fingers over the back wall.

I curled up tighter in my armchair, the wool blanket Mum got me for my birthday starting to warm me up, and closed my eyes.

“Ellie?”

Mum’s voice came from in front of me and I opened my eyes. She knelt down in front of me, holding out a cup of steaming hot chocolate and watching me with concern. “Are you feeling any better?” she asked, squeezing my knee as I took the hot chocolate, the warmth spreading through my palms.

I nodded and sipped at the chocolate. The sweetness spread over my tongue, soft and soothing. Already, the numbness from before had left my fingertips.

Mum smiled, before she pushed herself to her feet. “All right then,” she said with a toss of her blonde hair. “Don’t you go falling into any more frozen ponds, you hear me? I’m far too young and beautiful to be getting grey hairs.”

I let out a laugh. “In your dreams,” I teased, sipping at the hot chocolate again.

Mum let out an insulted gasp, her hand at her heart. “You injure me! Whatever did I do to deserve such cruelty from my own daughter?”

I grinned at her, shifting under the blanket as the pain all over my body started to make itself known. That was one thing the hypothermia was good for, I couldn’t feel how bruised my body was.

Mum frowned, taking a few steps forward. “Do you need any paracetamol?” she asked, jumping from play-actor to worried mother in half a second flat.

I shook my head, letting out a laugh. “Nah, Mum, I’m fine.”

Mum breathed out a sigh, before she stepped forward and pulled herself onto the arm of the chair, leaning against the back of it and starting to run her hand through my hair. “You really worried me today, El,” she said softly. “I thought…”

I curled into her. “I know. I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful next time, I promise.”

Mum smiled and kissed the top of my head, before pushing herself off the sofa. “Make sure that you are. Now, let’s stick something on the telly. You in the mood for some Star Trek?”

I grinned. “Can we watch Spock’s Brain?”

Mum laughed. “Ah, yes, the age-old favourite. We certainly can,” she jogged forward and messed around with the TV for a few minutes, before running back to jump up onto my armchair again as the episode started.

 

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Organisations Alex has worked with

  • Autism Cymru
  • Chester University
  • Glyndwr University
  • National Autistic Society
  • St John's Ambulance
  • Welsh Government

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