Publishing first for Harrogate man with Asperger’s

Jak Maggai with a copy of his book and  his support worker Kieran Gentry
Jak Maggai with a copy of his book and his support worker Kieran Gentry

After years of planning, a man with Asperger’s has finally achieved publishing success.

Forging ahead with his book, published earlier this month, Jak Maggai, who lives near Harrogate town centre, didn’t let his Asperger Syndrome get in the way of his ambition to be a writer.

Taken on by American publisher Rosedog Books, ‘The Reign of the Dark Demons’ is a science fiction/fantasy novel about a fight against evil to save the world.

Jak, 24, is coping well with his new-found fame and enjoys some of the attention, though he had to think about whether he was prepared for it.

He said: “Before my book was published I was given a contract that said I would go to book signings and be interviewed by the media. I needed to think about whether I was ready for that to happen.

“I told my friends and family about it and I don’t think they believed me at first, but when I showed my mum the actual book she was proper excited for me.”

Since moving to Harrogate a year ago, Jak has been supported by Foundation - a housing project dedicated to ending social exclusion.

His housing support worker, Kieran Gentry, said: “Jak struggles to interact in group situations and he doesn’t like any change to his routine, but I’ve been working with him at Foundation to help develop independent skills and build his confidence.

“He has overcome various barriers in order to achieve his goals, and I think that this is a brilliant achievement for someone his age.”

Talking about his creative process, Jak said: “It’s easy when you find a way to write it. I can’t write from start to finish, but I choose how many chapters I want and what is going in them, then I go through each chapter and fill it in if I feel like I want to write it at the time.”

The production of the book is something Jak has been very involved with too. After sending a synopsis to 30 publishers, he heard back from Rosedog who read the novel and decided to go ahead with it.

Jak then advertised for an artist to create the cover he had in mind. He chose the illustration closest to his own idea and sent it to the publisher who then used it for the cover.

The young author has now started working on the sequel to ‘The Reign of the Dark Demons’, as well as two websites based on the book’s characters and a range of associated plushie toys that will be produced in America.