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    Original Essays | July 14, 2015

    Joshua Mohr: IMG Your Imagination, Your Fingerprint



    When I was in grad school, a teacher told our workshop that if a published novel is 300 pages, the writer had to generate 1,200 along the way. I... Continue »
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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Cover

 

 

Author Q & A

What research did you do into Autism and Behavioural problems before writing this novel, is Christopher's character based on anyone in particular?

After leaving university I spent several years working with adults and children who had a variety of physical and mental handicaps (as they were then known). Ever since that time I've been interested in the subject of disability and mental illness. As a result, hardly a week goes by without me reading an newspaper article or watching a television documentary about schizophrenia or manic depression or Tourette's… And hardly a month goes by without me meeting yet another person who is the parent or grandparent of someone who has been diagnosed as having Asperger's. I also know a number of adults (men, mostly) who would almost certainly be diagnosed with the syndrome if they had been born twenty, thirty, forty years later. And that was the extent of my 'research'. I deliberately didn't consult fat tomes on Asperger's or visit special schools when I was working on the book because I wanted Christopher to work as a human being and not as a clinical case study.

The book has been published for adults and children simultaneously; did you set out to write a book which would appeal to such a wide age range?

No. I wrote it to entertain myself (which is, I think, the motivation behind any half-decent novel) in the hope that there would people out there who shared my interests and obsessions. So the much-vaunted 'crossover appeal' came as a very pleasant surprise.

Have you received any positive feedback from people with Aspergers Syndrome/ Autism, their families, or people who work with them?

To be scrupulously honest… the book had one very bad review from a young man with Asperger's who thought the book was bad, mainly because Christopher wasn't like him or like any other people he knew with Asperger's. But the review missed the point, I think. People with Asperger's are as diverse a group as Belgians or trumpet players or train drivers. There is no typical or representative person with Asperger's. And to try and create one would have produced a stereotype.

On the other hand I've been genuinely moved and completely taken by surprise by the number of parents and grandparents of young people with Asperger's who have written to tell me that the book rings completely true for them.

I have been even more surprised to receive several invitations to address academic conferences on Asperger's and Autism. Which misses the point in a different way, I think. If Christopher seems real it's because he's well-written not because I'm an expert in the area. We live in an age obsessed with documentaries, with biographies, with investigative journalism. We often forget that you can have all the facts but be no nearer the truth. And this is what novels are good at. A novel can put you inside another person's head and give you an understanding of their life you could only get by moving into their house for six months.

How did you come up with such and original idea for a novel?

It happened piece by piece and without any deliberate seeking after originality or quirkiness. I began with the image of the dog stabbed with the fork simply because I was searching for a vivid and gripping way of starting a novel. I then realised that if you described it in a flat, emotionless, neutral way it was also (with apologies to all dog lovers) very funny. So I had the voice. Only after using that voice for a few pages did I work out who it belonged to. Having done that the difficult thing was to work out a believable way for Christopher to construct a novel given that he is utterly unaware of the reader's emotional responses to what he is writing. Having Christopher simply copy his hero, Sherlock Holmes, by borrowing the format of the murder mystery was the solution to this problem. Finally, because I genuinely believed that very few people would want to read a novel about a teenage boy with a disability living in Swindon with his dad, I arranged the whole plot round the central turning point (where we discover who killed Wellington and what really happened to Christopher's mother) to make it as entertaining as possible, hopefully dragging the reader up to a highest point right in the middle, like a roller coaster, then speeding them down towards the conclusion.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400079070
Publisher:
Vintage Contemporaries
Subject:
Literary
Author:
Haddon, Mark
Author:
Mark Haddon
Subject:
General
Subject:
Fiction-General
Subject:
Fiction-Literary
Subject:
Fiction : General
Subject:
Fiction : Literary
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Children's 12-Up - Fiction - General
Subject:
Savants (savant syndrome)
Subject:
Autism
Subject:
England
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Audiobooks -- Fiction.
Subject:
Audio Books-Literature
Subject:
Children s Young Adult-General
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Children s-Oregon Battle of the Books
Subject:
Literature-Coming of Age
Subject:
main_subject
Subject:
all_subjects
Publication Date:
20040518
Binding:
ELECTRONIC
Language:
English
Pages:
226
Age Level:
Literature-Coming of Age

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 226 pages Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group - English 9781400079070 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Though Christopher insists, 'This will not be a funny book. I cannot tell jokes because I do not understand them,' the novel brims with touching, ironic humor. The result is an eye-opening work in a unique and compelling literary voice."
"Review" by , "This original and affecting novel is a triumph of empathy; whether describing Christopher's favorite dream...or his vision of the universe collapsing in a thunder or stars, the author makes his hero's severely limited world a thrilling place to be."
"Synopsis" by , Narrated by a fifteen-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions. Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capital cities and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions, and cannot stand to be touched. Gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. "I do not always do what I'm told, " he admits. "And this is because when people tell you what to do it is usually confusing and does not make sense. For example, people often say 'be quiet' but they don't tell you how long to be quiet for ..." At fifteen, Christopher's carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork and is initially blamed for the killing. Christopher decides that he will track down the real Killer and turns to his favorite fictional character, the impeccably logical Sherlock Holmes, for inspiration. But the investigation leads him down some unexpected paths and ultimately brings him face to face with the dissolution of his parents' marriage. As Christopher tries to deal with this crisis within his own family, the narrative draws readers into the mysterious workings of Christopher's mind. At once deeply funny and heartbreakingly poignant, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is one of the freshest debuts in years. Every so often, you come across a book so risky and emotionally resonant that itpermanently alters your understanding of things. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME is one of those books.
"Synopsis" by , Narrated by a 15-year-old autistic savant obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, this dazzling novel weaves together an old-fashioned mystery, a contemporary coming-of-age story, and a fascinating excursion into a mind incapable of processing emotions.
"Synopsis" by , Originally published: London: Jonathan Cape, Ltd., 2003.
"Synopsis" by , Despite his overwhelming fear of interacting with people, Christopher, a mathematically-gifted, autistic boy, decides to investigate the murder of a neighbor's dog and uncovers secret information about his mother.
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