Waterstones prize winner Elle McNicoll – The Guardian

Waterstones prize winner Elle McNicoll: ‘I never saw autistic girls in books’

The author was repeatedly told that no one wanted to read fun books with disabled heroes. Now she has won the £5,000 Waterstones children’s book prize for her debut, A Kind of Spark

When Scottish author Elle McNicoll was first trying to enter the publishing world, she was repeatedly told that people didn’t want to read about an autistic heroine. “In job interviews, I was saying that I wanted to see more books with disabled characters in them that were not traumatic, boring or educational, but fun and full of life. A lot of the reactions were, ‘Waterstones don’t like books like that’,” she says.

Now McNicoll’s debut novel A Kind of Spark has won the Waterstones children’s book prize. Published by tiny independent Knights Of, it follows Addie, an 11-year-old autistic girl, as she campaigns for a memorial to the witch trials that took place in her Scottish village. The novel has been praised by Waterstones’ booksellers as “eye opening, heart-wrenching, sad [and] inspiring”.

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