If you read The Rosie Project you’ll know how much of an effect it had. On 25th September, Penguin will be publishing the sequel – The Rosie Effect and I can’t wait to read it. I jumped at the chance to let Graeme talk to you all about his new book.
I did a Q&A for Emma’s blog back in May for Mental Health Week, talking about the portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome in The Rosie Project. (For those who haven’t read it, the protagonist, Don Tillman almost certainly has Asperger’s, though I never state it explicitly. Don was created from people I met working in information technology rather than any textbook.)
The sequel, The Rosie Effect, is again a comedy, this time about the challenges Don faces in maintaining his relationship with Rosie. There are a few new stress factors in his life: his unreliable friend Gene has come to stay following the collapse of his own marriage; Don’s has a part-time job managing a beer cellar for an aging rock star; and he and Rosie are expecting their first child.
And again, without being heavy-handed about it, I’ve tried to touch on some issues of mental health and difference. They’re not the same thing, of course, but sometimes the boundary gets blurred. Don has a good job, a close primary relationship and good friends. He’s happy. But he is, as he jokes, “not exactly average.” On the other hand he notes that, “A society of Don Tillmans would be safe, efficient and pleasant for all of us.”
I’ve trusted in my readers’ familiarity with Don to go a little deeper. He has a meltdown, he gets a few things very wrong, and I think many readers will reach the point of saying, much as they might love Don, “if he was my partner, I’d be looking for a way out.” But Rosie knew what she was signing up for, didn’t she?
I’ve also tried to show a little of the casual discrimination and prejudice that Don (and people like him) face on a day to day basis. My first readers have encouraged me that the book will again be received positively by the Asperger’s/autism and mental health communities. I think there will be more for them to talk about this time!