I did. I have several people in my life who have Aspergers specifically, and they were a huge resource, as you might imagine. There is a specific person who tries to anticipate future needs and therefore always seems to have exactly the thing you’re looking for when you want it. One of the things I like to do in my fiction is to try and get people who are heroic who have different types of psychology than what you normally see in heroes. The more I’ve lived in life, the more I realize that we all are really distinctive in our own way and our psychology all works differently. And yet we see a lot of heroes who have the same brain chemistry, it seems, and that’s always felt really weird to me. So one of my personal mandates has been to write many different kinds of heroes.
So what kind of research did I do? I did do some specific research for Steris, and then I looked and I interviewed people as well. When I was in college, one of my favorite things to do was sneak into classes I wasn’t signed up for. The psychology classes were my favorite. They were so useful as a writer. By looking closely at the different neurotypes I started to see personality differences not as normal or abnormal — because that’s just not the way it is. Everyone’s personality is on a spectrum, and what is normal and what is abnormal is completely a matter of perspective — where you stand on this line. We tend to try to make a value judgment that shouldn’t really exist. So those psychology classes helped me come to see personality as these swaths of interesting color.
I’m glad that picked up on it without me ever having to say, “This person has this diagnosis.” That’s when I really feel like I’ve nailed something, when you can look at it and say, “Yeah, this is who this person is,” instead of someone pointing from the outside and saying who this person is or what they are.