When I was 5 years old, I developed asthma that would regularly land me in bed, very sick. At 12, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which was devastating.
I remember having anxiety as far back as my memories travel. I suffered undiagnosed depression as a teenager. In adulthood I lived through post-natal depression twice, PTSD, panic attacks and various other chronic illness diagnoses. At 52, I finally received my ADHD diagnosis.
As a child and young person, I never saw myself in books, movies or other pop culture, except for stereotypes, (think Steel Magnolias…) which caused hurt and even trauma.
I’ve had a wonderful life, despite, and sometimes because, of my struggles and challenges. I’ve done many things, had many adventures, overcome adversity, persisted, grown, loved and learned. I’ve lived the boring, ordinary days and the ones that made me gasp at how extraordinary it is to be given a chance to be here and all of the days in-between; I’ve made a life.
All children deserve to see themselves in books. That’s why all of my characters live with chronic conditions and/or anxiety and/or are neurodivergent.
My stories don’t focus on these things, they don’t show a ‘hero’ journey, or how hard it is for their family or the fine details of their conditions. I write these characters into adventures, history, fantasy – as people living ordinary & extraordinary lives.
Why can’t a person with diabetes save their friends from disaster? Why can’t a person with anxiety travel in time? Why can’t a neurodivergent person have an adventure in a fantasy world?
We need more diverse books written by people who understand the experiences of living in a world that often doesn’t understand, doesn’t realise, doesn’t see.
Every child should see themselves in stories. Every child should be represented. Every child should dream.