An Unexpected Gift by Krista Grayce Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction
Print Length: 493 pages Publication Date: November 25, 2019
Janie Nolan’s future had never been more uncertain, she was just learning to live with the loss of her mother from cancer, she suddenly finds herself jobless after an unexpected diagnosis with autism at the age of fifty-five. The thought of moving back to her childhood home in the idyllic town of Cape May, New Jersey to assess her future is a daunting proposal. It is in that sleepy shore town that she must reconnect with her abusive father. Now ailing, he has handed over control of the family business, a failing small theater, as a possible means for a fresh start. However, Janie is uncertain as to what his true motives might be.
Alec Ryan, a handsome, former intern of her father’s and now a successful Broadway producer and director arrives from New York carrying his own tumultuous past with plans to assist Janie in restoring the theater to its former glory. Along the way, Alec discovers qualities in Janie that prove she is more than just her diagnosis and resolves to help restore Janie as well, simultaneously putting his own demons to rest and learning to love again.
But when the small town gossip mill begins to buzz about Alec and a piece of jewelry left by her mother is revealed, Janie learns of a secret that may take things in another direction could change the course of her life forever.
Janie felt her heart start to speed up. Adrenaline flooded her system as if on an IV. She thought her heart was going to explode. Her eyes widened trying to focus despite the neon and fluorescent lights. Janie wanted to either run for the hills or crawl under a table. Instead, she stayed close to Alec who was unaware of her current predicament. She wanted desperately to suppress the hammering in her chest, but any attempt would be futile. Janie was overwhelmed and her skin felt clammy and cold. The noise in the pub seemed to be getting louder and louder, leading to humming and buzzing in her ears and drowning out her own thoughts. She placed her hands over her ears and closed her eyes tightly. She began to hyperventilate and moved her hands to her throat to relieve the tightness that was developing there. It was then that Alec took notice.
"Janie, are you okay?"
"NO, NO… I have to go, I have to go, I am so sorry!" Janie turned and ran out the door.
HI! Just to tell you a bit about myself. I have lived in Seattle, WA most of my life however I was raised in New York and spent summers in Cape May, NJ. Most of my work is set on the beaches and beach towns of the Jersey Shore. I wrote my first novel when I was thirteen years old and continued to write poetry and short stories for the following years. I have had articles and papers published as well as photographs that were published in a book entitled "Rock and Roll Memorabilia II".
I hold an AA degree in Business Management. I never obtained a degree in Literary Arts or Writing per se but I feel I come by my writing talent organically as William Shakespeare is my 1st cousin 12 times removed.
"An Unexpected Gift" is my debut novel. Like Janie, the main character in the novel, I was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism at the age of forty-eight however I am proud to share this diagnosis with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emily Dickenson as well as many others. I see my autism as a gift from God. It has given me a high intellect and innate talent that I use as a tool to enlighten the rest of the world to the plight of adults with autism.
Like many people on the spectrum, I never married or had children which is sadly my greatest regret. I currently live with my wonderful sister Kendra and my three cats Tyler, Tabitha and Teddy in Spokane, WA. I am planning to move back to the New Jersey Shore as soon as possible.
What is unique or quirky about you?
and What inspired you to write this book?
There is no better question for me to answer than ‘what is unique or quirky about you?’ because the answer says it all. I am autistic. This means of course that I am just one giant quirk.
I actually wrote “An Unexpected Gift” as a semi-autobiographical account of my own experience with being an adult with autism. The protagonist, Janie Nolan, is an adult with high-Functioning Autism- Asperger’s. In fact, the first part of chapter one is an event that actually happened to me. The names were changed to protect the innocent.
I was diagnosed at forty-eight years old and after the diagnosis I put two and two together and realized that every quirk and unique quality that I have had throughout my life can be attributed to this disability.
Being an avid reader, I wanted to read fictional accounts of adults with autism. I searched online, libraries and other resources but was quite disappointed to find that nearly every book about autism was geared to or based toward children on the spectrum or their parents. There were no novels catering to those of us with autism over the age of eighteen and moreover, there were no books catering to women with the disability.
For most people when they hear the words adults with autism, “Rain Man” jumps to mind a story of a man very low on the autism spectrum with savant abilities. The character of Melvin Udall in “As Good as It Gets” was probably an autistic man but it was never admitted as such in the book or film, thus creating a negative view of the quirks of autistics rather than a sympathetic one. So, seeing the need to bring a much-needed education to the world of the true plight of autistic in the adult world, I wrote this book.
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