Autistic Author Interview
Dounia Stewart-McMeel is a former tutor turned children’s author who wants kids to become science-lovers! Her first book, “Let’s Visit the Solar System,” is fun, informative and will most certainly help to make kids more curious about space and our solar system. Dounia identifies as autistic and has started going through the diagnostic process:
“Reading about autistic traits in women, I am almost textbook! It’s great to finally understand why I’m different, and a lot of my favourite things about myself seem to be linked to autism.”
We caught up with Dounia to find out more about her book and how being neurodivergent helps to inform her writing.
Tell us about Let’s Visit the Solar System
Let’s Visit the Solar System is a fun look at each of the planets in the solar system. Along with Sebastian the Alien, budding astronauts can learn exciting facts about the planets, the sun and the asteroid belt. It’s a picture book for children aged 3-7, but grown-ups seem to like the facts too!
What inspired you to write it?
I love astrophysics and quantum mechanics, and only found out about both when I was teenager. I wanted my kids to know this from birth, so wrote my son a book about the solar system when he was a few months old. That book became the inspiration for Let’s Visit the Solar System.
How does being autistic influence your writing?
Autism makes us very passionate about our interests and makes us want to share it with others. One of my passions is science, and I start by researching then do a massive info-dump of exciting information while being in hyper-focused mood. That bit is loads of fun! Next step is to filter that info and choose the most interesting points. This is hard as we autistics are passionate about our interests, and don’t want to delete anything! The end product is unique information in a factual writing style with no silliness, but managing to convey wonder and hopefully inspire kids.
Who’s your illustrator and why was she perfect for capturing the spirit of your book?
I approached Rachel Lawston not knowing what I wanted, and she was incredible. She knew what was needed, what would look great, and pretty much did it with very little input from me! She understood my vision and made it come true. She used vibrant colours so that the planets would be eye-catching, and made incredible illustrations to match the tone of the book. She is exceptional! Her husband became my educational consultant who stopped the book from being a boring essay and inspired me to create Sebastian the Alien. You can learn more about Rachel Lawston here: https://www.lawstondesign.com/
Who is the ideal reader and how do you see the book being used?
I hope for the book to inspire children to love science and space as much as I do! The ideal reader is any child who already likes space, or who wants to know more about space and or even kids who think space is boring and think there’s nothing to know!
What’s the message you want your readers to take away after reading the book?
That science is awesome and space is fantastic!
Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book?
I have a second book in the series that is currently being illustrated. It’s called Let’s Visit the Sun and it charts the life of our sun: from how it began as a nebula to what will happen billions of years in the future.
Do you have any fan feedback you’d like to share?
One of my Amazon reviews is from a mum whose non-verbal ASD son said the planet names!!!
What words of encouragement can you offer to other autistic creatives?
Follow your passion and go for it! What you can create may be exactly what the world needs.
Best ways to connect with the author:
- Buy Let’s Visit the Solar System on Amazon US
- Buy the book on Amazon UK
- Learning Excitement website: https://learningexcitement.co.uk/the-book
- @Learning2Excite on Twitter
- Learning Excitement Facebook Page
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