Autistic Author Interview
Samantha (Sam) Grierson’s later-in-life autism diagnosis in 2018 changed the course of her life forever. After an initial shock, the diagnosis became the driving force behind her creativity and allowed her to revive her love of writing. We caught up with her to find out about her writing and her latest project, Henpire, an audio comedy.
Tell us about your trilogy of plays which deal with autism and motherhood.
Crocodile tells the story of a woman in her 30s dealing with her recent autism and ADHD diagnosis, the death of her dysfunctional mother and the start of a new relationship. The play provides stark flashbacks and insights from the 8-year-old Crocodile in Yorkshire, set against the adult life Crocodile has in London.
Mole is a play set in Wales about a lonely autistic woman in her 50’s, who strikes up an unlikely friendship with the lady of the manor. They realise that they share painful experiences around motherhood and loss.
Diddy is the final play of the series. Diddy is in her 40s and considering IVF. The idea of having a child is providing her with a dilemma about the genetics of autism and what that means to her giving birth, but first she needs to leave the abusive relationship she finds herself in and also to eat.
Can you introduce us to your latest creative project, Henpire?
Henpire is an audio comedy sitcom consisting of six 10-minute episodes and it’s free to watch on Diva Box Office.
Here’s the summary:
Three extremely different women decide to work together to support a friend with their business that is in crisis. In doing so, they discover their diverse skill sets and way of thinking/working may be the key to something extremely successful.
Will they be able to navigate their differences to reach their common goal – and show the world they can build a media company which celebrates all things femme?
Based on a true story…
Written by Samantha Grierson – gay, autistic writer
Directed by Jacquie Lawrence – BAFTA award winner and author of Different for Girls and Same but Different
What made you choose a scripted podcast format?
We wanted to create something that you could listen to on the way to work—a burst of humour while on the tube or in your car—to take your mind off the day. My writing style is often rapid paced dialogue and we felt that the pace would work well as a scripted podcast format. Audio was important also as it meant we could do it NOW instead of waiting to see it produced on stage, which is always important criteria for me!
What is the inspiration for the plot—is it based on a true story?
I am part of the Sh! Whispers team– Sam Grierson Schwarz, Pippa Dale and Jacquie Lawrence – and the impetus behind Henpire was actually drawn from our banding together to write and produce erotic stories that provided product placement for the Sh! Women’s Store as it transferred to trading solely online due to COVID-19.
The main characters in Henpire are loosely based on the three of us.
Episode one of Henpire is devoted to the Sh! Whispers’ story, but further episodes feature the antics of the trio as they decide to start a media empire by creating content for and about the queer female community. Their escapades see them experience random lesbian cultural events, like a haunted lesbian cafe-opening in Hebden Bridge, a lesbian goth festival in Whitby and a lesbian music festival featuring Horse McDonald (who plays herself with great panache). The backdrop to the events features storylines dealing with the issues raised by coparenting, romance and autism within the queer female community.
Tell us about the characters and the actors who play them?
- Hen, a high-flying TV Exec with a ‘just do it’ attitude is played by Alicya Eyo
- Ella, a seemingly calm liberal North London softy is played by Tish Potter
- Drax, an autistic writer, divorced mum of 2 boys trying to juggle logistics and single parenting is played by Heather Peace
All of the characters are gay and 90% of the cast and crew were LGBT+.
Who are your ideal listeners?
Anyone who is interested in people and how people come together to get stuff done – particularly under adversity. My personal aim is to get to a wide audience in order to start a dialogue about the later life diagnosis of autism, particularly in women. Female autistic adults are massively under-represented in the media – and we need role models and to hear their stories.
Besides entertaining audiences, what message would you like them to takeaway after listening to the show?
There is more than one way to be a mother – the mother theme is very strong throughout the show. And that autistic females have been over looked for years and under-diagnosed, this is now starting to change and we need to see ourselves and our stories represented.
What words of advice or encouragement can you give to other autistic creatives?
Just do it. Get your story written and start sharing it. Don’t worry about seeking permission and trying to find publishers and promoters. Tell your story, share it on social media, find like-minded people and the passion and energy will shine through. Get out there and be seen, even when that’s hard.
How can people listen to Henpire?
What is the best way for people to support the podcast and connect with you?
- We have a Henpire Facebook Page
- I’m on Twitter as @SamanthaGriers3
- The paperback copy of the script is also available now on Amazon UK