Author and writer
I am a twenty-five-year-old college student with Aspergers Syndrome from Bethesda, MD. I have a mother, father and a sister who is graduating from Towson. My greatest passion is my writing and I hope it will give my readers as much joy as it does for me. Tales of Aradia the Last Witch is my first book series.
You can contact me on Tales of Aradia's Facebook page.
When did you start writing?
LAJ: Ever since I was little I have always been a storyteller. My sister used to tell me that when we were small she loved playing with me because I would always come up with imaginative games. One of the most notable experiences I had, which sort of indicated how big a role storytelling would play in my life, was in Sri Lanka. I was being privately tutored by a wonderful woman named Ms. Lynch. She would allow me to tell her stories as a reward for whenever I finished my lessons or did really well. When I left Sri Lanka, she gave me a goodbye present. It was a hand-stitched photo with “Once Upon a Time” written on it with blue thread. This sort of symbolized to me how big being a writer, or at least a storyteller, would be for me.
I read that you are passionate about writing. I know that more often than not it can mean different things to many writers. Describe what it means for you?
LAJ: It means being a good influence on people’s lives. Most especially people with Aspergers Syndrome. I have it and I hope to one day become a beacon of hope for people with Aspergers Syndrome. I want to prove to them that even though they have a very difficult disability they can make something of themselves.
Your genre of writing is science fiction and fantasy. Is there a reason why?
LAJ: What I like about fantasy/science fiction is you can use it as a metaphor for real life. My book series, Tales of Aradia, is based on a lot of real-life concepts like prejudice, genocide, politics and making your own path. By using fantasy I can explore touchy real-life subjects like religion and politics without insulting anybody. I mean it's kind of hard to take anything seriously, even politics, when a fairy prince is preaching about it, right?
Where did the idea for Tales of Aradia the Last Witch: Volume 1 come from?
LAJ: I don’t know exactly where the idea came from but I did get inspiration from all types of sources. My father for one thing. He is into non-fiction and so whenever I talk about vampires and such he expectedly rolls his eyes. I figured that there must be a way to bridge the gap between fiction and real life. Thus I began to expand the idea of a girl being the last of her kind becoming a sort of political figure in a developing world. Harrison R. Bradlow (my editor) also helped. He helped me to envision Aradia as more than just a kick-butt Buffy the vampire slayer action hero. He helped me to portray her also as a supernatural Nancy Drew kind of character. My mother, who is from England, gave me the inspiration to portray Aradia as a woman in power surrounded by male influences who are sort of stuck in their dysfunctional ways. Case in point, Elizabeth I. My sister complained that there are never any positive female influences in the media that anyone can relate to. Therefore, I modeled Aradia as an unassuming female who sees that she has tremendous political power and responsibility and tries to use it positively.
What was the response like to this book?
LAJ: Very mixed. My story followed closely after the success of Twilight so I was met with a lot of hostility. However, after a while of submitting my book to various reviewers, I was able to meet my editor. He edited book one dramatically and the result was wonderful. Not only was I satisfied but everyone else was as well. One of my reviewers who had given me a one-star review changed it to a four-star review after reading the edited version. The response has been dramatically different and positive. Most of all, I have gained a wonderful partner in Harrison R. Bradlow who has helped my series reach all sorts of new heights.
You have written volumes two, three and four of Tales of Aradia. Was it your intention to have more than one volume?
LAJ:I originally planned only to have five volumes in my series but after the success of Harry Potter, Twilight, and after reading the Sookie Stackhouse mysteries I decided to have ten volumes in my series. The process is now as follows: I write an unedited version of my book series for the fans who like my original work in spite of its poor punctuation and grammar. My editor then receives the unedited version from me in addition to receiving the reviews and comments made by my fans and friends. He then goes over them and edits my manuscript. He runs changes by me and sometimes I write extra scenes for him. After he is done, he sends me the manuscript which I read and then re-publish as an e-book and release as a paperback. I once told Harrison a perfect analogy of the way we work: “I find the diamond which is indeed valuable on its own but he polishes it up thus making it twice as valuable.”
What would be your advice to young writers?
LAJ: Never give up, ever!