Julie is a freelance writer and author, and has previously published The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Catholicism, Historic Irvington, and the young adult novel Fifteen Minutes of Fame.
Below are my questions to Julie in bold, followed by her replies in italics.
Do you experience ASMR? If so, what are common triggers for you?
Julie, “Yes, I have experienced ASMR since I was at least seven-years-old (at least that’s the first event that I can easily recall.)
My triggers really run the gamut, especially now that I have been exposed to the online ASMR community, but initially they were unique voices, ear play, and light touch – such as when girls play the alphabet game at slumber parties.”
What inspired you to write a book about ASMR?
Julie, “Whenever I saw magazine articles written about the phenomenon, I really felt it was short changed.
In addition to knowing on a personal level that it was not “new” I was disappointed that many of the articles focused on the “weirdness” of it all or how Bob Ross fits into it rather than explore how it is presents itself a number of clinically accepted alternative therapies and relaxation practices.
I truly felt that the authors of these pieces, while well intentioned were doing a disservice to the phenomenon by not exploring the biology of it and connecting it to human physiology.”
How did Ilse Blansert, the YouTube ASMR artist known as TheWaterWhispers, become involved as a co-author?
Julie, “Because the book was to cover not only the ASMR phenomenon itself but also how ASMR videos were made, and the online ASMR community (a huge component of this movement ) it seemed prudent to partner with someone on the other side of the camera.
Ilse was one of the first ASMRtists I discovered and after seeing her on ABC World News Tonight; I reached out to see if she might be interested in working with me on this project.
In her, I found someone who might as well be my little sister! She was so enthusiastic about all that I was learning and she was excited to offer her thoughts on ASMR to the world in a book format.
She told me that she’d wanted to write a book in the past but because English was not her first language, she didn’t feel she could and this gave her the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Which chapter was the most challenging to write?
Julie, “Good question! Because there has not been a book like this before, there were a LOT of challenges. I was literally starting from ground zero.
I had to figure out a way to define a feeling that not everyone feels, that people describe differently, that occurs based on a ton of different triggers…it’s hard!
The “known” information is still so sparse that I almost felt like I’d said everything there was to say about ASMR in the first chapter, so after that – I had to start breaking it down.
Why do people use it? To go to sleep. Why is no one sleeping? They are too stressed and can’t relax. What causes all of this stress? What are some of the other ways in which people relax? Does ASMR present in these techniques as well?
The challenge was in finding the threads that tie it all together and put it in a logical order that would resonate with readers.”
Which chapter will surprise readers the most?
Julie, “In my opinion, I think they will be most surprised by Chapter Six.
I spent a lot of time on that Chapter because I think it is the crux of what the ASMR phenomenon is. The chapter showcases how our bodies react to the suggestions presented in the videos and I spent three days chasing down my theory that science has known about ASMR tingles for at least 25 years and that these have occurred in practices that have been monitored.
This implies some research data has existed for quite a while and has been more or less taken for granted or ignored by the scientific community. (I’m not judging the clinical community at all, by the way. This is merely my assessment.)”
What chapter was the most fun to write?
Julie, “I have two actually.
Chapter Six was fun because I felt like I was on the precipice of a breakthrough and that was pretty exciting. Finding a reference to ASMR that was 25 years old and written by a researcher was a huge thrill.
The other chapter was writing about creating a role-play and developing a sample script to go along with it. Not only was it fun to write about something less scientific and much more artistic, but I got to watch a lot of ASMR videos to get ideas which meant I got to take a lot of naps! Ha ha!”
What was the most surprising thing you learned about ASMR?
Julie, “For me, the most surprising thing about ASMR is that like other areas of biology/physiology it crosses over into so many areas of clinical research.
It’s very easy to say it must be a neurological thing because it happens in the brain, and perhaps at its core, that is true. However it’s also so much more.
It’s the way sound travels through the ears. It’s the way you gather information. It’s the way you respond to the idea of touch and being cared for. It’s about the alpha brain wave state and the things that help you get there and connect with that part of you that is still a six-year-old kid who simply likes the way it feels when someone pours sand over their toes.
I think that the avenues for continued ASMR study will go far beyond endorphins, psychology and neurology and will eventually find its way into all areas of clinical research.”
What was the most surprising thing you learned about ASMRtists?
Julie, “First of all, they are wonderful people and I am grateful to all of them, not only for the help they give me when I am trying to sleep, but also for sharing with me (and all of us) a little about themselves through their work.
One thing I did notice is that many of them have a similar “story” as to what led them to the ASMR community and ultimately to be an ASMRtist and I think that for some, what began as a dabbling in a hobby grew into full-time careers that didn’t exist five years ago.
They are discovering that they have a talent for filmmaking that goes far beyond the ASMR realm and it is interesting to see how they have developed as ASMR experiencers turned ASMRtists and now filmmakers.”
How do you think your book will change perceptions about ASMR?
Julie, “I hope those who may have a more skeptical view of ASMR (and take the time to read the book) will realize that it is not merely a YouTube phenomenon but a true psychophysiological event that happens organically as well as through suggestion.
I hope that readers become more mindful of the physical systems that seem to influence ASMR and recognize how ASMR techniques can be applied in everyday life.
It was very important to Ilse and me to take ASMR out of YouTube (to an extent) and showcase how we can help one another relax in social situations by improving our bedside manner, lowering our voices, and being mindful of our mannerisms even if it does not result in tingles for the other person.”
How did your initial vision of the book differ from the final product?
Julie, “Honestly, although I had sections and chapter titles approved by my publisher going into it, I didn’t know what this book would look like in the end! (ha!)
There has never been a book on this subject before. I was worried that I would not be able to fill an entire book on this subject and it was my goal to give readers as much information as I was able to discover.
There were times in which I would find material for one chapter that applied to another, already finished, chapter so there were a lot of rewrites as I tried to find a logical narrative. I would send chapters off to Ilse for approval and she would write me saying, ‘I don’t know how you found all of this!’”
Do you have any future plans related to ASMR?
Julie, “At the present time, I am going to be a guest blogger on TheWaterWhispers site starting in May.
I will be sharing my full ASMR story, developments I learn from sites such as the ASMRUniversity and a few humorous tingle tales as well such as the time my 18-year-old, mildly autistic son tried to listen to an ASMR video. He’s a bit sensitive to sound and after watching this person tap on a book for a while, I heard him yell, ‘Oh for heaven’s sake, woman open the darn book already!’ It was really funny, and proof that he doesn’t seem to feel ASMR like I do.”
What further details can you share about the book launch?
Julie, “All signings and events will be posted on my website and I know we will be having a launch event in Indianapolis at some point in May.
While Ilse will not be able to be there (due to her immigration status in Canada) I am working with her to sign some book plates so that our readers can have her signature on the book as well as mine!
It is also possible that we will have some ASMR demonstrations at the launch event so I hope tingle heads who can will attend and celebrate the sensation that we love!”
You can stay up to date with Julie Young and the launch of ““The Complete Idiot’s Guide to ASMR” by going to her website www.julieyoungfreelance.com (her blog can be found through the website), by visiting her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjulieyoung, and by following her on Twitter @JulieYoung14.
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This post brought to you by ASMR University. A site with the mission of increasing the awareness, understanding, and research of the Art and Science of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.