Many people have wondered about the research involved in writing a book like ManBug.
Research only goes so far in creating a character like Sebastian. Ultimately, I wanted the freedom to create a unique character, without the pressure of trying to accurately represent a particular condition or syndrome. The label Asperger's is used to suggest, but not confine. In addition, Sebastian experiences synesthesia -- in his case, he sees colours when he hears certain words or sounds.
I also did a lot of research into entomology (it amuses me enormously that people ask if I am an entomologist). I do find insects to be amazing little creatures. They are incredible, fantastic and often overlooked. However, research here is quickly overwhelming, because so much is unknown and because diversity in the insect world knows no limits. I like to think I showed great restraint in sharing amazing bug facts (did you know the weight of ants on the planet is greater than the weight of the human population). However, readers who are creeped out by the thought of lard worms are probably wishing for a little more restraint.
In terms of the entomology content in ManBug, I mainly focused on insects that live on or just under the skin. The metaphor here is the parallel between the skin of the planet and the skin of a person. Unfortunately the impulse to poison insects often means we are poisoning ourselves. I don't talk about bed bugs in the novel, but while finishing the book bed bugs have been very much in the news. Bed bugs are enjoying a resurgence in urban populations, because they are resilient and very hard to kill. In order to kill bed bugs, rooms are basically made uninhabitable for the human population -- a sad metaphor for what we are doing to more and more of the planet.
In the future, I might write something about ants or bees, because I find the hive mind to be extremely fascinating. The best thing about insects is that they provide an endless source of metaphors.