An 11-year-old girl likens her experiences of living with autism to those faced by the women killed during the witch trials a few centuries ago in the Scottish village she lives in. This is the crux of the book “A Kind of Spark” that helped its author Elle McNicoll bag this year’s Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for her debut novel.
Being an autistic person herself, Elle McNicoll always found the lack of neurodiverse characters in literature, especially children’s books, frustrating. She even wrote her Masters’ dissertation on the lack of inclusivity and representation of neurodiverse children. Finally, she decided to take matters into her own hands and started writing the kind of books she would have liked to read growing up.
Her first book that was published in 2020, ended up being selected as Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Year, Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for October, and the Times and Sunday Times Book of the Week.
McNicoll recently released her second novel, again with a protagonist with autism. This one is a sci-fi thriller that sees 12-year-old Cora battling holograms of dead people created with the help of artificial intelligence by the in-universe tech giant Pomegranate Technologies with a sinister purpose. In this dangerous mission, she gets help from her friend Adrien who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).