In October 2019 Tom Brooks released his memoir describing his life on the autism spectrum. In this interview, Tom shares his thoughts about his book and life.
What inspired you to write your memoir?
For the longest time I debated if my story with autism would be limited to only those who would take the time to sit down and talk with me to learn from me as in the olden days back before paper existed to write down the word of the day and to write down stories, word of the mouth was the way that news and stories got spread from town to town so instead of waiting for any to hear my story I figured put the memoir to book form. Also after my best closest friend Dave died his passing taught me that life can be abruptly cut short at any moment be it a car accident, a serious illness, etc. and with Dave having been one of my greatest supporters of embracing who I am with my autism as he himself had a disability (not autism) I set out to write my memoir.
What do you hope people will learn from reading it?
I hope people learn from Fly Me To The Autistic Mind that those on the autistic spectrum are not all the same, that every diagnosis is different and just because two people may have the same diagnosis they are not in fact the same in terms of behavior, traits or way they see the world around them. Autism is like a mountain range, the more you climb it the more you see the different levels of how autism affects each person diagnosed.
What was the most challenging part of writing the memoir?
One of my other friends has told me they believe I have the memory of an elephant which gives rise to the old saying, “An elephant never forgets” which is true in most cases with me but one thing I learned in writing my early years with autism I discovered I blocked out so much from my younger days but I am thankful I had my parents with remembering some moments they remember and then it was up to me to determine if it goes into the memoir or not as well diving into my meditating to help find long buried memories in my archives of my brain.
What did you learn about yourself while writing this?
I learned that all writers go through their own process of writing about moments that they feel are personal but each person grows through the experiences we go through in life. I myself learned through my meditating that each moment I have lived through be it an event that has now entered the history books that will be taught years from now in school or events in my own personal life that each day is about growth and reflecting on where I once was to where I am now.
How did family and friends react to hearing about your memoir?
For most of them they were pretty impressed I was going to undertake such a journey, originally Fly Me To The Autistic Mind was going to be a book containing my best wordsmith philosophic sentences on a variety of topics but knowing Dave was going through a lot and he would not get to tell his tale one day I decided I had to tell my tale the best way I could.
What else have you written? What inspired you to write that?
I have written a book trilogy called The Normal Citizen Trilogy which tells the tale of a main character with autism. The trilogy originally started as one book which was inspired by a dream I told my friend Jo-Ann of what would happen one day if an invention was made to eradicate the world’s disabilities such as down syndrome, Tourette syndrome, etc. and I remember Jo-Ann saying, “That’s your book idea! Write it!” Soon after sharing the manuscript with Jo-Ann and two others I was asked, “Sequel?” which then spawned two more sequels inspired by my dreams. Thank you Jo-Ann for encouraging me to write the book.
What are your future writing plans?
Only time will tell my dreams vary as do my visions in my meditating so we will see what I see.
What is your advice for new authors?
For new authors I strongly advise give meditating a chance and listen to your dreams you will see amazing visions that you never thought possible and always remember to google title ideas as well book plot ideas to make sure your idea was not already taken first.
Anything else to share?
Always remember: Autism is not limited to the myths, legends and adaptations that are in film and TV shows, autism is a real world way of how many live their daily lives, no adaptation of how it is portrayed in film or TV shows is ever 100% accurate so before you go and think, “Gee this film/TV show is how autism is viewed I don’t want any part of this” please find either Fly Me To The Autistic Mind or any other books related to autism research and educate yourself to a new understanding instead of going by one persons film/TV show portrayal of someone with autism.
Cover of Tom Brooks’s book designed by Lisa Shea and used with permission.