Carry The Ocean’s tagline is “normal is just a setting on the dryer”. In the book, Heidi Cullinan tackles the issue of mental illness head-on in the character of Jeremey. The other protagonist, Emmett is an individual with Autism, although he does not allow the condition to define him. The two begin a very tentative romance which is beautifully recorded by Heidi Cullinan.
Title: Carry The Ocean
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevelt #1
Release Date: April 7th 2015
Age Group: New Adult
Genre: M/M Romance
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.
Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
I am really excited that Heidi Cullinan was willing to add All in One Place to the end of her blog tour in order to be interviewed as part of Male Monday!
Me: How did you research the issues of Autism and mental illness in Carry the Ocean?
HC: I’ve worked with both these populations in the past, both with young adults in a summer program and with the elderly in an institutional setting. For depression and anxiety, I had no further to look than my husband and daughter, who both have clinical anxiety. My husband has also experienced occasional clinical depression. Additionally, I asked a therapist to review the manuscript to make extra sure I didn’t misrepresent anything, particularly in treatment.
For autism, I did additional online and publication research, but I also asked for help from my agent, who has a son with autism about Emmet’s age. The problem with autism, though, is it truly represents differently from person to person. Even how people want to talk about it will vary. I found some people who wanted only to be referred to as someone “with autism” and others who were adamant about saying they were autistic. Some people want to overcome autism, some firmly insist they are fine as they are, that autism is simply another aspect of who they are as a person. So there came a point where I had to simply let Emmet be Emmet and trust he knew who he was.
HC: I like people to find their own meaning, but if there’s an overall message, it’s the tagline. Normal is a setting on the dryer. Nobody can be normal, and the pursuit of it is a terrible way to spend one’s life.
Me: If you could collaborate with an author of your choice, who would it be?
HC: K.A. Mitchell! We’ve talked about it, but it hasn’t happened yet. Probably we’d do linked stories, that kind of thing.
Me: Is there one subject you would never write about?
HC: I’m kind of crap at mystery, and horror wigs me out. So those are off the list for sure.
Me: Is there one question you would like to ask me?
HC: What was the message of Carry the Ocean for you?