It’s heeeeeere!

The audio edition of The Ceiling Man, read by Amy Melissa Bentley and Kristin James and published by Tantor Media, is now available from Audible, Google Play, iTunes, Amazon, and the other usual places. If your local library participates in Hoopla, you can borrow it there  for free.

Publishers Weekly had this to say about the ebook/print version: “A supernatural creature arrives in the small, fictional town of Port Massasauga and sets his sights on Abby, a girl with psychic powers similar to his own, in Lillie’s gripping debut…Lillie sidesteps horror clichés and presents characters who don’t make eye-rolling decisions…horror fans should expect an entertaining novel that’s tough to put down.”

Happy listening!

(And if you prefer using your eyes rather than your ears, the Kindle and print editions are still available.)

About Abby

Notes on an Autistic Protagonist

pencilsIn 1826, novelist Ann Radcliffe defined the main characteristics of Horror fiction as terror, the mounting dread that takes place in anticipation of an event, and horror, the disgust or revulsion that takes place after the event. Stephen King, William Nolan, and others have written that Horror fiction is not about the monster behind the door, which once revealed will never be as big or as scary as we imagine it to be, but about the slow opening of the door. As Quiet Horror, my novel The Ceiling Man depends more on Radcliffe’s terror than her horror. Violence happens, but it is usually off-screen. The monster behind the door is seen—he is a point of view character—but never explained. As Abby, the protagonist, states I do not know who he is. I only know he is.

The Ceiling Man is about the catastrophic effects of intrusion of evil into the everyday life of one family. However, the everyday life of that family isn’t the everyday of the typical family, nor is the Big Bad—by conventional definition—the only Other in the story. Abby is an autistic teenager. The Ceiling Man is not a book about autism, but autism influences the reactions and actions of both Abby and her parents and shapes the plot.

Abby’s psychic connection to the antagonist is not attributable to her autism, however, her initial reaction to him is. The Ceiling Man has picked up other nuerotypical “watchers” throughout his years, but they dismissed him as a bad dream, unreal. Because Abby sees him, she accepts his reality without question. Abby’s parents, accustomed to her atypical communication and seeming non-sequiturs, show little concern at her first mentions of a hungry man and red ceilings—when parents of a nuerotypical teen would be ordering drug tests or calling doctors.

In Abby’s point of view chapters, her voice is based on her verbal communication. We get to know Abby both through her viewpoint and that of her mother. We see Abby’s efforts to understand the nuances of neurotypical communication and to communicate a danger she knows is real to her pragmatic parents who, even if they understood her, would consider the Ceiling Man no more than a nightmare.

Abby is literal and truthful. She is unable to tell a lie greater than in answer to a yes or no question. Her imaginative capacity is limited, and it is that limitation that tells the reader that the danger is indeed real. Abby’s acceptance of the Ceiling Man’s existence and her eventual realization of his evil doesn’t require an explanation. While her imagination is limited, her reasoning ability isn’t, and because of her atypical sensory and thought processes, she makes connections that those around her don’t, and it is through her growing strength and agency that she protects herself and those she loves.

Abby’s Autism Spectrum Disorder is part of her, just as gender, ethnicity, appearance, or other traits help define any fictional character, but it is not her single defining characteristic. She is also a teenage girl, a daughter, a granddaughter, a student, a hero, and more. What she isn’t is emblematic of all autistic people. She is an individual. She is Abby.

In 2014, we saw the birth of We Need Diverse Books, calling for literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people and books featuring marginalized populations for readers of all ages. Author Jim Hines, father of an autistic son, says of the character Nicola Pallas in his Libriomancer series, “It definitely would have been easier to write Nicola as another neurotypical character. But “easy” has brought us so many books and stories with bland, narrow casts of characters. I want everyone to be able to find themselves in stories. I want my son to be able to read my book and recognize a character who is, in certain important ways, like him…all I can say is that I hope I got it right.”

The young woman who inspired Abby will never read The Ceiling Man, but for any readers who may be anywhere on the Autism Spectrum, and for parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, or anyone who loves someone on the spectrum, like Jim Hines, I hope I got it right.

The Ceiling Man is here!

I do not know who he is. I only know he is.
—Abby

Read a free sample!

Monday, January 24th saw the release of my first novel.

I’m a little excited.

The Ceiling Man by Patricia Lillie
From the back cover:
A NOVEL OF SLOW BURN HORROR.
Carole knows there can be no tie between her autistic daughter and the strange events in Port Massasauga. It’s not logical. It’s not possible.
The Ceiling Man has picked up other watchers in his travels, but they all dismissed him as a nightmare. The girl is different. She knows he’s real.
Teenage Abby is an innocent. The stranger only she sees and hears introduces her to evil. When Carole falls under the stranger’s sway, Abby must solve the puzzle of The Ceiling Man and save them both.

You can read The Ceiling Man free with Kindle Unlimited or purchase it in Kindle or trade paperback editions.

And, now through February 24th, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway for a chance to win a signed paperback copy.

Or, just read the first few chapters for free right now!