Autism Fact: About 1% of the world population has autism.
April is Autism Awareness Month and – as every year since I’ve known her – author RJ Scott hosts a month-long blog hop to help spread the message and help raise awareness of autism. You can find a list of all participating authors and read their stories here. (There are also plenty of goodies to win!)
1% of all people on this planet are autistic. That’s an enormous crowd of people, all living in a world specifically designed to fit the other 99%. A challenge if I’ve ever seen one. When RJ – for this year’s blog hop – asked us all to share stories and words of hope, I puzzled about this. Wouldn’t strength and resilience be better topics when faced with a challenge like this? I think I got it in the end. Raising awareness is an act of hope, a wish to inspire action that leads to something better down the road.
Hope is a topic I love to explore in many of my stories.
Jack Horwood, the main character in my Power of Zero series, considers hope a concept he has little time for. When he has nothing to live for, it’s sheer cussedness that keeps him going, not the idea that things will get better in some as yet nebulous future. Jack doesn’t expect anything from anyone, so when Gareth suddenly steps up to have his back and strangers rally to his support, he’s suspicious rather than grateful. Though none of that stops him from reaching out and offering hope to others when they need it – and for me, that’s always been the most interesting thing about Jack’s journey. That he can give hope to others when he had none, and needed none, for himself.
The thing about hope, at least in my mind, is that it transcends what we think or even feel about ourselves. Even in our blackest, most despondent moments we’re able to give hope to others through something as simple as a friendly word or a small kindness.
That tells me that hope is driven by action, by the way people around us act and react. So instead of telling someone don’t lose hope give them a smile, a hug or a shoulder to cry on. Or buy them a coffee and listen to them rant. It won’t take much from your day. You won’t need to excert yourself emotionally, you won’t need to make an effort to be cheerful, but the fact that you are reaching out will give hope to someone else.
Yes, hope is a strange commodity, something you can give away even if you don’t have it in the first place. That’s exactly the reason it’s so fascinating and so enduring. It’s also the reason why we, as a race, will never lose it.
Jack’s story, from a boy who prefers to be homeless than owned by a pimp to a determined hacker-vigilante who hunts pimps and johns and rescues abused kids, is a story of revenge. When he falls in love, and learns that a family can be a source of strenght, it becomes a story of healing. But first and foremost, it’s a story about hope.
Book #4 of Jack’s story, Swings & Roundabouts, is due out on May 13th. I’ll be around in various places online talking about Jack, Gareth, Nico and Daniel and the trouble I’ve landed them in this time. They’re still a ways from their HEA, but hope, as always, won’t be denied, whatever our innermost fears may want to make us believe.
As a thank you to RJ Scott, I’d like to give away some books! Leave me a word that gives you hope in the comments and you can win a book of your choice from my back catalogue.