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Ten Questions with Elle McNicoll

A photograph of Elle McNicoll holding an award and her book, A Kind of Spark. It features a female protagonist with neurodiversity.

What better way to educate your child on neurodiversity than with the work of a best-selling and award-winning novelist? A while ago, we talked to Elle McNicoll about her brilliant debut, A Kind of Spark. Growing up, Elle felt there weren’t stories with neurodiverse girls..  Consequently, she wrote them – and as champions of diversity, we look forward to more.

Hot off the press – Elle’s latest book, Like A Charm, is part of our February 8-11 box. 

  1. Why did you start writing/illustrating books for children?

I feel very connected to my younger self.  I can tap into that mindset easily, so it felt natural to tell stories from that point of view. Furthermore, I don’t believe writing for children is any different than writing for adults, you just have a slightly altered lens.

  1. How did you get your book out into the world?

The PR and Marketing team behind both of my books worked really hard. In addition, we were lucky some reviewers really liked them. Mostly, as they are both lockdown books, we’ve relied heavily on word of mouth. Especially from teachers and the ND community, who have been brilliant.

  1. Why did you write this book? Why did you want to illustrate this story?

I always write the stories that don’t leave my head. There isn’t really an alternative. I just write whatever isn’t leaving my head.

  1. Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way?

I have to relate to all of them in order to understand their motivations and their actions. But you always have a tether to your main character, especially when it’s first person.

  1. What’s your favourite book and why?

I love Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson because it’s the ultimate adventure with great, immortal characters. It also defined an entire genre.

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer.

  1. What do you want children to get from your books?

I really want ND children to remember that they are the main character. They are the protagonists. No longer are they side characters or plot devices. They have agency and deserve to see themselves represented in a diverse and broad selection of work.

  1. Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take criticism from people you would not take advice from.

  1. Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves….

…is not medicine or a chore. The best writing, at the moment, is “diverse”.

  1. A message to readers of your book?

Thank you so much! I hope you’ll stick with me for more proudly neurodivergent adventures and stories.


Subscribe to our boxes for more diverse books.

Learn more about Elle McNicoll and her journey to getting more voices of neurodiversity in publishing here.

Purchase A Kind of Spark here.

Purchase Show Us Who You Are here.