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{May 12, 2013}   Jason Walters Blog Tour: Guest Post

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Jason S. Walters–A Guest Post

Virtual Tour May 1 to May 31, 2013

JasonSWaltersPhotoMy name is Jason Walters and I have problems with my character.

Okay – that’s not what I mean. I don’t have any problems with my character. Well… not so that most people would throw me out of their house in any case. (Or at least not right away.) My problem lies with the creation of two particular characters from my upcoming novel Nakba: Mitchell Green and Cassidy Brazo. Both are main characters. Both are living in outer space. And both have Down syndrome.

I know, I know: in the future there aren’t supposed to be any people with Down syndrome. They’ve all been cured… or aborted… or, well, they’re just not there. And certainly not trundling happily about in the artificial, distant worlds of outer space, going about their business more-or-less like they do today. And yes: in the distant future of Nakba Down syndrome – indeed, all genetic aberrations and differences – are completely treatable. Yet there are some who have chosen not to be cured, and even to reproduce various variant and different strains of humanity with little concern for their society’s utopian ideas of perfection.

Just like today, actually.

However, as you may of guessed, that’s not the character problem. That’s editorializing. (Which is undoubtedly also a character problem – just not the one I’m having with the novel.) You see, I wanted to write a science fiction novel in which their would be major characters with Down syndrome – not as victims or objects of pity, but as important people performing heroic tasks. I have a daughter with Down syndrome. And I find as she’s growing up that I’m more and more confident in her abilities, and less and less worried about her shortcomings. Which set me asking myself: with all of the advances in medicine and technology today, why couldn’t people like her survive in outer space 100 years from now? Or a 1,000? And even be relatively self-sufficient? If you’re raised in a certain habitat, certain things become second nature. Like not running in front of a car or cutting yourself with a knife.

Or not opening the wrong airlock, for that matter.

Why couldn’t she care passionately about something to fight for it? From my experience with my own child and in meeting other people like her, I see no reason why not. They’re certainly stubborn, opinionated, and foolhardy enough to be heroic. And if they often don’t seem to grasp the deeper meanings of things or complex abstractions … well, since when is having a degree in semiotics a prerequisite for heroism? Sergeant York did okay – and I’m not even certain he could read.

But that’s also not the character problem. That’s digression. (Which is admittedly another one of my character problems.)

Trying to get the inner voices of the characters with Down syndrome right was the real challenge. Crafting the urbane, disillusioned inner voices of the characters that populate the first half of the book was easy. Because I am that person. So that’s not a particular challenge.

But I’m not my daughter. I don’t really know how she thinks. (Though she often surprises me with common sense insights.) So I spent a lot of time worrying about “Goldilocks” stuff: that sounds too smart. That sounds too stupid. It that just right? How do you judge the inner voice of someone whose cognition literally functions differently from yourself? And, with advanced artificial intelligence handling the duties of translation between different peoples, how much do speech impediments and odd sentence structure even matter when expressing oneself?

The inner dialogue of the characters worried me in particular. I took great care to make certain that their spoken words were simple and direct – though not obnoxiously so – and that the two characters got flustered and confused by certain complex concepts and abstract ideas.

But the inner voice of someone whose cognitive processes must by definition be different from your own is a difficult thing to accurately portray, even for a more talented author than myself. For example:

Mitchell nodded slowly, again not really knowing what to make of the woman’s alien glances and gestures. They seemed to be waiting for his permission to proceed. It struck him for the first time that Un-Deux-Trois had no idea he was a Special. This seemed crazy (he looked very much like one after all), until he remembered that they had never actually seen a man before, either. And, really, were his small stature, flat features, and epicanthic folds any more alien to them than the towering height, dark skin, and alien thinness of the Maasai? The women of this sequestered, strange culture had withdrawn not only from the Earth, but from all contact with opposite sex. Which, effectively, put them out of contact with practically everyone. Like himself, they probably had only a vague concept of the complexities of the outside world.

Did I get Mitchell’s clash-of-cultures confusion in dealing with an entire colony whose population is entirely comprised of clones of Monique Wittig correct? (And who wouldn’t be confused?) It’s hard to quantify without having Down syndrome myself. I’ve tried to compensate for this problem somewhat by reading the small library of books actually written by people with Down syndrome (there are four). But, in the end , all I can hope is that I’ve managed to strike a balance – one that is fair to people like my daughter without being absurd.

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Author Bio:

Jason S. Walters is an author, essayist, and publisher best known for running Indie Press Revolution (IPR), a distributor of micro-published roleplaying games. He is also one of a small group of investors that purchased Hero Games in 2001, and serves as its general manager. After owning a San Francisco bike messenger service for 15 years, he and his wife Tina moved to Midian Ranch: a homestead near the town of Gerlach, Nevada. It is also the location of IPR’s warehousing complex. They have a daughter with Down syndrome named Cassidy and animals too numerous to mention.

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Nakba CoverNakba

A thousand years ago humanity’s dissidents fled, leaving behind a peaceful, unified world content to exist in a state of perpetual hedonism. Then a daring escape plunged civilization into chaos, forcing its rulers to expand outward to maintain order. Now all that stands between a newly imperial Earth and the rest of the solar system is a loose coalition of Maasai tribesmen, cloned feminists, shape shifting humannequins, and vengeful Berbers led by the least likely hero in human history: a young woman with Down syndrome and a bad attitude.

TheUnforgivingLandReloadedCoverAn Unforgiving Land Reloaded

In the desert life is hard. It can also be surreal.

In the absence of congestion and convention, imagination takes you by the hand: or the balls.

In this macabre collection of riveting tales, ENnie Award-nominated author Jason S. Walters grabs the reins of storytelling as if it were a wild stallion, leading the reader ever deeper into the physical and spiritual wasteland of the Black Rock Desert.

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Tour Schedule and Activities

May 1 – Read 2 Review – Guest Post

May 2 – Makayla’s Book Reviews – Interview

May 3 – The Dan O’Brien Project – Promo/Excerpt

May 5 – Crossroads Reviews – Review

May 6 – Beauty in Ruins – Guest Post

May 8 – Reading Away the Days – Contest/Giveaway

May 9 – Ian’s Realm – Guest Post

May 10 – Angela Meadon – Interview

May 12 – A Book Vacation – Guest Post

May 14 – Azure Dwarf – Review

May 15 – Book in the Bag – Interview

May 16 – Word to Dreams – Spotlight and Giveaway

May 17 – The FlipSide fo Julianne Guest Post and Excerpt

May 18 – Mom Cat’s Book Blog – Guest Post

May 20 – Lost Inside the Covers – Review

May 21 – I Read a Book Once – Contest/Giveaaway

May 22 – Rachel Tsoumbakos – Review

May 23 – Darlenes Book Nook – Guest Post

May 26 – Bee’s Knees Reviews – Review

May 28 – Once Upon a Time – Guest Post

May 31 – Library Girl Reads and Reviews – Character Post

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Contacts:

Tomorrow Comes Media Contact: Stephen Zimmer email: stephen@tomorrowcomesmedia.com or C.C. James email: ccjames@seventhstarpress.com

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