Autistic Author Interview
N.E. McMorran is a debut children’s climate-fiction (cli-fi) author, visual artist, educator, and researcher turned writer and publisher. We caught up with her to talk about her Nautilus award-winning book, Moojag and the Auticode Secret and her open invitation to help other neurodivergent authors through her publishing company, SpondyluxPress.
Tell us about Moojag and the Auticode Secret.
Moojag is a quirky cli-fi adventure about three friends who discover a hidden sugar-hooked society holding lost kids and find their perfect neurodivergent world in danger. The strange, sticky place hides the truth about Nema’s missing brother, and a plot to destroy the free life she knows. Only they can reverse a code to prevent a rock candy robot invasion and rescue the captives. Fail and they might never make it back home…
What inspired you to write it?
I grew up in a neurodivergent creative family, listening to my parents’ quirky and colourful made up stories. They sparked my imagination and in turn I began telling my own stories to my cousins (in Greeklish), younger sister and later my son. But it never occurred to me to write. It wasn’t until I found myself a single mum in the middle of major burnout, and the financial crisis which saw my business close at the age of 40, that I decided to start writing my first book.
Moojag was initially inspired by the characters in my parents’ stories, and also reflected my concerns for climate change and health. It evolved over six years into a neurodivergent adventure with autistic characters, reflecting my real-life journey to diagnosis. In the end it developed into an unintentional fictional biography of sorts.
How does being autistic influence your writing?
In so many positive, yet challenging ways. Because I’m a visual thinker and struggle with dysgraphia, ADHD, and executive functioning, I tend to do things quite intuitively and spontaneously. While it’s a really creative way to work and allows me to hyper focus, it’s also pretty exhausting. I have to take care not to burn out!
I am still learning how to better manage myself and my time, but since my diagnosis at 43, I have found it much easier to recognise my needs and behaviour. I find writing such a rewarding and creative outlet, it saved me at one of the hardest times of my life and continues to do so. I just wish I had discovered fictional writing earlier! Had my abilities not been missed in school, and my learning difficulties and being autistic been identified, perhaps I would have. But then perhaps I wouldn’t have had the same passion and experiences fuelling my art?
Who’s your illustrator and why were they perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?
Chiaki Kamikawa provided the illustrations for Moojag. She is a Cyprus based Japanese artist who creates amazing colourful and quirky paintings and also runs a contemporary art workshop for kids. I’ve known her for years as I used to publish an art magazine called ‘ARTERI’ in which she was featured. So, when I finished the book, I already knew she was the perfect fit. Do check out her art: https://www.c-kamikawa.com/
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
It was written with middle grade children in mind but has resonated with readers of all ages, especially the neurodivergent community and late diagnoses. Those who love quirky, imaginative stories like Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the Chocolate factory will appreciate its colourful weirdness. It will hopefully change perceptions of autism and autistic people while inspiring younger generations to design a sustainable, inclusive future that respects all neurotypes.
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
I hope they will come away feeling heard, empowered, positive about our collective future, and inspired to change the world for the better.
We heard that you are committed to helping other neurodivergent authors. What do you want to tell them?
I would love to take the opportunity to invite neurodivergents, of all ages and backgrounds, to contact Spondylux Press (run by autistics and published Moojag) if they would like to work with a flexible aut-friendly publisher or publish their own work!
Spondylux Press Website: https://www.spondyluxpress.com/index.html
Do you have a proud moment you’d like to share?
I produced a full cast audiobook of Moojag so that the book would be accessible to all. It was a wonderful experience as we invited autistics during lockdown to voice the characters. I only wanted NDs involved in the project to open up opportunities and many had never done anything like it before. They all gave their time for next to nothing. It meant so much and was so inspiring the way all that amazing talent came together during such desperate times, despite their intense struggles and anxieties surrounding forced isolations. They created an incredibly professional and engaging piece of work that deserves to be heard far and wide!
If our readers leave with only one message after reading this interview, what would you like it to be?
Be true to yourself, find your people, and amazing things can happen.
What words of encouragement can you offer to other autistic creatives?
You are so much more than they would have you believe. Be brave, and do whatever it takes to reach your potential by seeking support and advice whenever you can from people you trust.
What are the best ways to learn more and connect with you?
- Moojag website: https://www.moojag.com/index.html
- More ways to buy the book: https://www.moojag.com/stores.html
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/moojagbook
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/moojagbook
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moojagbook/
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