This post is written by LK Mitchell, author of today's release, Keeper of Directions.
Imagining the Keeper of Directions
My premise for Keeper of Directions began with one question: What if the ravens kept at the Tower of London aren't just ordinary birds but a clan of shape-shifters? It evolved from there to include the main character, Lance Jensen, a ten-year-old kid who's obsessed with ravens. But while writing Keeper of Directions I realized that Lance was a complex character with physical, emotional, and psychological traits that were familiar.
Imagine you're ten years old and you're a kid who hates change. What do you do when you're given the ability to shape-shift into a Raven? Now imagine your parents are splitting up and everyone around you is talking about war and they're expecting you to take sides and participate.
Lance has Asperger's Syndrome so it makes betrayal, shape-shifting, and war all the more difficult to endure and understand. I have family members with Asperger's syndrome and was a foster mother to two children with Asperger's so you'd think that imagining Lance would be simple. It wasn't. My editor, Kathy Teel, reminded me that Asperger's syndrome itself was a character and that everything Lance does is interpreted through this complex syndrome. Basically, Lance sees and reacts to the world differently.
First of all, not all Asperger's kids are alike. Aspies often display a wide range of symptoms. It would be impossible to have all the traits contained within Lance. Some of the more common behaviors are the inability to make direct eye-contact, intolerance to change, and high intelligence with specialized knowledge in one or more areas. My character, Lance, considers himself a scientist and he's obsessed with ravens.
While writing the novel I had to ask myself, "What would Lance do in this situation?" How would he handle being entrusted with the duties of Keeper of Directions by a clan of shape-shifting Ravens who're in the middle of preparing for a great battle? Aspies often have trouble concentrating, and expressing emotions so how can Lance rise to this challenge? What if a sharp beak, sharp talons, and a sharp mind aren't all that Lance needs to be the Keeper of Directions and set the natural world in order? Maybe the Ravens have chosen the wrong person to be the Keeper of Directions.
Maybe. Or maybe not.