Persistence and Determination
It’s very important to keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other, all the way to refrigerator. Because that’s where the … where the … Where is my chocolate milk, Dave!? Honestly, I ask for one thing—one thing—and what do I get? Not chocolate milk, that’s what.
Oh, well. You’re not here to read about me whining. You’re here for another interview! Yes, yes. And I happen to have one of those at hand. Today, I have for you an interview with the multitalented Emma Kathryn, actress and author of The Pathbreaker.
The Pathbreaker follows actress Hannah Jones. She seems to have it all. She’s on the hottest tv show in the country. She gets to rub shoulders with the nation’s biggest stars. But few people know the truth. A truth that has cost Hannah so much. Autistic, Hannah has suffered years of unemployment. Acting is not only her dream job—it’s the only job she can do.
RJ: You have a B.A. in Art History and English. How influential was your love of writing on your choice of higher education? Did you ever consider an alternate career/education path, or did you know that this was what you wanted?
KATHRYN: It was very influential. I always knew I wanted to be a writer and actor. Any other job has been just a means to get by.
RJ: You aren’t just a writer, you’re a performer. You’ve performed your prose and poetry at several local venues. How did the desire to perform your work come about and what have the experience and responses been like?
KATHRYN: It was a natural consequence of me being an actress. People love my performances of my own work, because there are very few other people on the spoken word scene in my city who are actors. Because of it, I frequently get invitations to do feature performances, and I love that.
RJ: You’ve previously been published in “Literary Orphans,” “Theatre People,” and “Plays to See.” Would you say you prefer print over performance, or are the two mediums equally satisfying?
KATHRYN: I prefer print, because that is what comes from me when I write privately. Performance is lovely. But I create what is closest to my heart when I am writing privately. Also, I’m a very methodical person. I like to go over things again and again. You can’t do that so easily when you’re on stage!
RJ: You just released your first novel, The Pathbreaker, in February. What was your experience like as you wrote the novel vs. when you perform your prose? Is there a worry about whether readers will get the same emotional connection and the same understanding?
KATHRYN: Writing on the page is much harder than performing my work. When I perform, either I ad lib and the audience forgive me if everything doesn’t line up because they’re engaged by the performance, or I perform a work that’s already polished. I am less forgiving of myself when I make mistakes as I write a novel—and I have to be, of course! It’s more worrying that readers will get the same emotional connection as I’m writing for the page, because it’s a much more complex process.
RJ: Can you tell us a wee bit about what inspired you to write The Pathbreaker?
KATHRYN: Well, the first inspiration for the novel was a rescue fantasy. I’ve had this nice, indulgent fantasy and I was surprised when I found out a boyfriend of mine had had it too, although with gender reversal. I won’t say much about it, because I’d be giving a key part of the novel away.
Then I wanted to tackle these questions: How, why, and when does unrequited love get requited? Can the person in love simply be more in touch with their intuition and who they are? Can that be why they sense the potential for true love on both sides in the absence of the other doing so?
Later on, the novel became more about something else though. It became much more a chance to show that an autistic person can live productively in this mostly neurotypical world.
RJ: Your goal with The Pathbreaker is to send a positive message to others with Asperger’s Syndrome. Your own experience with Asperger’s doesn’t seem to have slowed you down. What are some of the prejudices and obstacles you’ve had to overcome to get where you are today?
KATHRYN: The most concerning problem has been work. I have trouble processing verbal instructions if people deliver them to me only once—and in a work situation that’s usually how it is. They’re not going to say, “Oh, you’re an aspie, so I’ll make sure to go through it about three times, and then watch you do it the same number of times to make sure you get it right.”
They have the excuse that they don’t have the time. But how can an intelligent, talented breed of human such as us—in other words, aspies (people with Asperger’s Syndrome)—ever be able to contribute our unique gifts to workplaces if we’re not given the extra time we need?
Not being able to understand social cues has been an issue. Happily, though, I’ve discovered that aspies and neurotypicals can be good friends. That’s something which I show in my novel, I hope. I’ve helped my social problems by socializing more. And it’s much easier to get another chance socially than it is in the job market, I must say.
RJ: Are there any myths and/or stigma’s around Asperger’s that get your blood boiling?
KATHRYN: It’s not myths and stigmas that make my blood boil. It’s a more concrete issue. It makes me angry when paid government programs cater only to kids. I am staggered that a large part of the autistic community—those of us who grew to adulthood before all the nice, understanding publicity and help programs for Asperger’s came in—seems to be bypassed in the case of government grants and public awareness programs.
And websites that give the impression they are for all people with Asperger’s and turn out, as you read them, to be only designed to help children—and speak to their parents in honeyed tones that leave you out completely. Those drive me up the wall. They come up in Google search simply as Asperger’s websites. After a while, you find they have zero resources for late-diagnosed adults—and yes, we need help as well! They should have big notices on their home pages saying, “Go away, late-diagnosed adults. We don’t give a crap about you.”
RJ: I noticed that you made an appearance in the TV show Wilfred, so I feel compelled to ask (as a fellow writer): Do you find that your sense of humor lines up with that type of dark comedy or does it span over a little of everything?
KATHRYN: No, it’s not my taste. Of course, being on a tv show doesn’t necessarily mean you watch it. My sense of humour spans over a little of everything—yep, that’s more accurate
RJ: When you aren’t writing and performing, what do you like to do?
KATHRYN: I love cooking, reading, and spending time with friends.
RJ: What advice do you have for new authors?
KATHRYN: The old quote by Calvin Coolidge: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
Find out what Emma Kathryn is up to on Facebook @EmmaKathrynWriterandVarietyArtist