The inspiration for Cassandra In Reverse came—as art sometimes does—from heartbreak, or something quite like it. A short but intense relationship that unravelled so quickly, and so unexpectedly, I was left reeling. What had gone wrong? Was it my fault? What could I have done differently? Caught in a familiar, never-ending thought-loop, I spent months trapped inside my own head: obsessively re-running the entire relationship in enormous detail, looking for clues, searching for the point where it all went wrong. If I could just go back and tweak it—say the right thing, understand a facial expression I completely misinterpreted—would it have had a different ending? Would it, perhaps, not have ended at all? As I worked through this familiar yet confusing process—carefully editing a memory and allowing my imagination to play out the consequences in detail—I slowly realized it was an idea for a book: a woman, gifted with the power of time travel, who initially uses it to try and fix her relationship. But, when I pitched it to my agent, she had a few understandable questions. Why would anyone become so hyper-fixated on a short-term relationship like that? Why obsess, and repeat, and re-run? Why not just… let go and move on? The answer to that question came with my autism diagnosis, a few years later. As I grappled with understanding my own neurology properly for the first time, I realized that the way I thought and behaved was tied, inexorably, to the fact that I was autistic. The need to repeat, to loop, to hyper-fixate, to obsess, to examine, to study, to analyze: I did it because I was autistic. Thus, rather than being a time-travel book with an incidentally autistic protagonist, this was a protagonist who time travelled because she was autistic: because the very act of time travel was, on a macroscopic scale, a narrative version of what goes on in her brain anyway. I think there's a part of every human who wonders if editing a part of their life would make a difference to where they ended up. But, in using time […]
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