Bits 'n' Pieces: Son's Asperger's syndrome informs author's new novel

Published:

 

They say write what you know. So singer-guitarist Brian Tashima pulled together his son's Asperger's syndrome, his own musicianship and their shared taste for young adult fantasy fiction (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson) to create a truly mind-bending adventure story.

"Secret of the Songshell" follows a teenage rock guitarist who yearns to be a star — and who travels to a parallel universe where his "disability," Asperger's syndrome, is nothing but a boon.

"I've read other books where the character has Asperger or autism, and it's always a problem that has to be overcome," said 42-year-old Tashima, a Hawaii native who moved to Vancouver in 2000.

"I wanted to make a world where the character with Asperger uses his special qualities to save the day."

In Tashima's fictional world, Asperger brain waves combine with musical sound waves to make genuine magic and eventually defeat the villain.

"Secret of the Songshell" will be launched at a pair of events. First up is a party from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, July 21, at Thatcher's Coffee in the Grand Central shopping center, 104 Grand Blvd. Then, the three rock bands that Tashima plays in will perform from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Ash Street Saloon, 225 S.W. Ash St., Portland. (Open to 21 and older; $5 cover).

Tashima will donate a portion of book sales to the Vancouver nonprofit Autism Empowerment (http://autismempowerment.org). Learn more about the book at http://thespectralandsaga.com.

— Scott Hewitt

Author of vampire novel organizes blood drive

You might say Vancouver author Cheyenne Moon is a blood enthusiast.

Not only does the 32 year old write novels about blood-loving vampires, but she's also donated her own blood to the American Red Cross since she was 16.

When Moon learned that July is "Vampire Awareness Month," she decided that Clark County needed to join in the festivities.

"It's really not something I came up with — somebody else created it," Moon said. "I thought a month was too long, though, so I decided we needed to have a Vampire Awareness Week."

The celebration will run from July 15-21.

The central — and only — official event this year will be from noon to 5 p.m. July 19. It's a blood drive that Moon organized with the American Red Cross at the Vancouver Blood Donation Center, 5109 N.E. 82nd Ave.

"The main reason for the blood drive is that the Red Cross doesn't have enough blood right now to meet the demand," Moon said. "But I thought this would be a fun way to engage a group that might not usually be involved in donating blood."

Participants at the "Bites for Pints" event will be entered in hourly drawings for autographed copies of Moon's first vampire novel, "Captives and Prisoners," along with other goodies. All participants will get free admission passes for the Clark County Fair.

Moon hopes to organize another blood drive next year and put together a role-playing event for vampire enthusiasts in the community, she said.

"Next year, it's going to be a lot bigger," Moon said. "It's just a fun time for people to get out, do a little good, but also play with their dark sides."

Those interested in participating can schedule an appointment at http://www.redcrossblood.org, sponsor code "bitesforpints," or call the Red Cross Vancouver Blood Donation Center at 360-989-2932.

— Sue Vorenberg

Bits 'n' Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you'd like to share, email bits@columbian.com.