‘I would love young autistic girls to find this book, first and foremost…there’s not a lot of books out there where they would see themselves reflected back.’

Each month we celebrate an Australian debut release of fiction or non-fiction with the Kill Your Darlings First Book Club. For May that debut is Kay Kerr’s YA novel Please Don’t Hug Me, out now from Text Publishing. Erin is looking forward to Schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But things are not going to plan. Life is getting messy, and for Erin, who is autistic, that’s a big problem. Please Don’t Hug Me is a funny-serious own-voices story about what happens when you stop trying to be the person other people expect you to be and give yourself a go.

Kay Kerr is a former journalist and community newspaper editor from Brisbane, now living on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and daughter and working as a freelance writer. Kay was writing the first draft of Please Don’t Hug Me when she received her own autism-spectrum diagnosis.

Our June First Book Club title will be Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs (Scribe Publications). Our theme song is Broke for Free’s ‘Something Elated’.

Further reading:

Read Ellen Cregan’s review of Please Don’t Hug Me in our May Books Roundup.

Read Kay’s Shelf Reflection on her reading habits and the writing that inspired the novel.

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Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!

TRANSCRIPT

Alice Cottrell: Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings Podcast. I’m KYD Publisher Alice Cottrell and today I’ll be bringing you our May First Book Club interview. Our May First Book Club title is Kay Kerr’s Please Don’t Hug Me, out now from Text Publishing. First Book Club host Ellen Cregan spoke with Kay to ask her a few questions about the novel.

Ellen Cregan: Welcome Kay, thank you for chatting with me today.

Kay Kerr: Thank you so much for having me.

EC: And we’re just going to start the podcast with a quick reading.

KK:

4 September.

Dear Rudy,

Sometimes I don’t think about you at all. Like, if you were to look inside my head on a certain day, you’d think I was the eldest of two children, going about my busi ness, caring for and thinking of only Ollie and myself. I don’t say that to hurt you. I suppose I’m just trying to paint a proper picture of how things are. Okay, maybe somewhere, deep down, I want to hurt you a little. That wouldn’t be wrong.

Did I tell you Oliver wants to get a dog? He’s really obsessed with it—he wants a little brown sausage dog, and he wants to call it Rudy. I think that’s cute but also kind of weird. The name part, that is. I think the sausage-dog part is only cute. Sometimes he talks about ‘Rudy’ and we all think he’s talking about you, but he’s actually talking about what he wants to do with his dog when he gets it, like this morning. He piped up over his bowl of Weetbix: ‘Rudy loves dressing up like Batman and Robin with me.’

Mum looked surprised—I think he caught her off guard with it. She said, ‘Yes, baby, he loves you so much.’

Then Oliver said something about needing to cut a hole in the costume for his tail, and Mum looked confused. I reminded her of the sausage-dog thing and she looked relieved.

‘A hole for his tail, of course,’ she said.

Mum says she doesn’t want the commitment of a dog. As if she isn’t already tied to this life and this house, three children, a husband and a mortgage. I think it would be nice to have a little animal here, and maybe I wouldn’t move out if we had a dog. I’d have to help look after it and take it for walks with Oliver, because he’s too little to do it on his own. Mum is probably a bit nervous ever since we had that cat Daisy before Oliver was born. She was a pretty cat, but remember how she always seemed to want to escape, like she was angry to be living with us. I don’t blame her, I guess. We were pretty intense when we’d dress her up in dolls clothes and make her put on shows. Then, when she got hit by that car I got so obsessed with dying and death. I remember playing funerals with my dolls and telling old people they were going to die soon. I told Mum’s aunt Marilyn she was going to die right before she did, remember? Or maybe you don’t. Mum was really close to Marilyn, and I felt like Mum thought I’d killed her, even though that’s ridiculous because a six-year-old can’t cause lung cancer. But there was a bad feeling there—I can still feel it if I think back hard enough, like my words had big consequences.

Maybe we shouldn’t get a dog. Or maybe I’ll get a cat when I move out, and do it right this time.

I forget sometimes that some things are my choice. Or they will be soon anyway. I can choose what university sites I apply for and what courses, or even if I apply at all. I’ll choose where I’m going to live and with whom, and what I’ll eat for dinner. I’ll choose the people I talk to at uni. I’ll choose what I wear every single day. It’s a lot of choosing. I like the idea of all of those choices, but I don’t feel qualified to make them.

You were making choices long before you were my age, and way before you were qualified. You made bad choices and brash choices and short-sighted choices and angry choices and silly choices. Not all the time; you made good ones too. I just wish I felt as confident as you, or as excited about making choices. Maybe I never will, or maybe it’ll happen slowly with each new choice.

After Schoolies, that’s it: choice city, population me. I’m worried Dee is going to choose something different from me and I’ll be left here in my own hesitation. School is so easy in the way there are no choices, when I think about it, and I’m only really thinking about that now, two months before finishing.

Rudy, I know you didn’t choose for this to happen, but I wonder, if you could, what would you choose for yourself now? And what would you choose for me?

Love, Erin.

*

EC: Thanks so much for reading that Kay, that was really great.

KK: Thank you.

EC: So for those who haven’t read the book yet, can you just give us a quick plot summary?

KK: Yep, so Please Don’t Hug Me is about an autistic girl called Erin and she’s about to finish high school and she’s navigating all the change that comes with that, so the book is set in the last 3 months of high school, sort of between the time of QCS exams and graduation and Schoolies, and it’s written in a series of letters to her brother Rudy who has been away for a year.

EC: On the back of the book you, we have on the blurb that Please Don’t Hug Me is a ‘funny-serious’ book, and I definitely agree with that, but I’m just wondering what were some of the challenges combining the quite serious aspects of the story with, with the sense of humour that it has?

KK: My favourite books to read are the ones that have that balance of light and shade and humour, and emotion and kind of vulnerability, so I guess I was aiming for a similar kind of vibe as that, but you don’t want to be I guess making light of serious issues, so I think maybe the OwnVoices element gave me the opportunity to play around with the aspects of my own autism that, you know, challenges and and funny things that have happened to me, or circumstances that I found myself in that I can now look back on and see the humour in, maybe.

EC: So kind of writing what you know was was your way out of that difficulty.

KK: Yeah, and I think, you know, when things get quite emotionally intense in writing, it’s always nice to balance that, you know, in the, in the following kind of pages with a little bit of light and a bit of humour.

EC: Absolutely. What was your favourite part about sitting down and writing this book?

KK: Um… That’s a good question. When I first started writing it, it was, it was a really cathartic experience for me because I was personally really stressed out in a really ill-suited jobs, so the actual motion of sitting down at the end of the day, and usually quite late into the night, and just spilling out words, was quite fluid and quite easy and quite fast, so that process felt I guess very organic, or very easy -as a nice way to end a bad day at work. It was definitely the start, probably the first draft where it was flowing and there was no expectations of anybody reading it, I was actually sure that I would never show it to anybody and just I needed to get it outta my head, so that very first draft would be my favourite.

EC: I love that it was a cathartic process for you, because it’s kind of like that for Erin in the book.

KK: Yeah, that’s true. Yeah, I think because it was so much, like, well I thought I was writing this really unlikeable character for starters, and all these uncomfortable awkward feelings, and not nice things that she was feeling sometimes, and I just thought, I can’t show anybody that, I can’t show this work and let anybody think that those are feelings that I’ve had. So when I had no expectations of anybody ever seeing it, I think that freed me up to write it how it ended up.

EC: I actually found her so likeable, I’m so surprised that you thought she wasn’t likeable, because I was so attached to her by the end of the book.

KK: I’ve reflected on on that a little bit since writing it, and since it’s come out, and I think it was probably more…a reflection of where I was myself when I was writing it. And because I started writing it before I got my autism diagnosis, I had a lot of, I guess, shame and negative feelings tied up in all those things that I felt like I was doing wrong that I didn’t understand, or that I found hard that other people found easy. So through the writing of that, and then through getting my own diagnosis I’ve started to unpack all those feelings. And I’ve come around, obviously I love Erin now, and I always loved her, I think I thought differently of her when I was writing her than I do now.

EC: That’s something that’s so special about talking to debut authors, actually, through this, this sort of First Book Club is that often we hear this, that, you know, that the journey of the author kind of is mirrored in the journey of the protagonist, in there’s like a lot of stuff that you’re working through, and I think that really makes you, it makes for a more…fully formed and wonderfully fleshed out, kind of, emotional piece of writing.

KK: It makes it like this piece of your heart. I guess every writer feels like that with their book, that it’s this piece of your heart that you put out into the world, and I think it makes it feel a little bit more fragile or a little bit more difficult to separate yourself from. I’m at the stage now where the book’s not mine anymore, it’s out there, it’s for readers. So I’m still, and because I’m not having any of the face to face events, I guess it’s interesting and a bit tricky to get my head around. The fact that it’s transitioned from that, being my manuscript to being a book.

EC: Yeah, that would be really difficult. What was that kind of process like, like the journey from a manuscript you thought you never wanted to release into the world, to a fully formed, real published book?

KK: Yeah, I think I needed to go through the process that I went through in order to be at a place where I was ready for other people to see it. And even now I still kind of go, ‘oh! I don’t know about people reading it,’ but, um, I was in my mid-twenties when I started writing it, so I feel like the feelings or the things that I was going through at that age were probably a lot more closely tethered to my teen experiences than I am now, and so the years between writing it and now has been a slow, I guess, forgiving of self and forming of self and leaning a little bit farther away from that teen experience and letting myself forgive myself for the things I didn’t think that I got right.

EC: I’ve, So I’ve asked you what your favourite thing about writing was—what was the most challenging or difficult thing about writing the book?

KK: I found…probably the spaces in between the writing were the really tricky bits for me. So publishing…journalism’s my background, and so when you publish it’s daily or it’s weekly, or it’s just, it’s constantly moving and you’re always moving on to the next thing, and it’s quite quick. So publishing, I found, it moves so slowly until it doesn’t, and then it does move really quickly. But, so waits in between edits, so I signed with Text, I think at the end of 2017, and we didn’t start working on the book probably until mid-2018, so that’s sort of six months there, and that’s a lot of space if you’re kind of a overthinking person like I am, to imagine all of the ways, you know, things are going to go wrong, or that they’re going to change their mind and they don’t want the book anymore, or you should have done a certain whole part of the the story or the format differently, and then once I’ve done, you know, structural edit, you do a copy edit, so there was just this big space in between. And the waiting definitely gave me a lot of time for overthinking, especially because I hadn’t done it before. So I didn’t really have, you know, anything to compare it to, what was normal or what the process should look like.

EC: That’s, that’s kind of a…really tough thing to go through as already a professional writer, that super change of pace between you know, journalism and being a novelist.

KK: I think everyone kind of prepares you for the editing process, and, and sort of tells you, you know, don’t take it personally and it’s gonna be, they’re gonna say some things about your work, but it’s all to make it better, but that process I found, like I loved that. I loved being edited, I think everybody wants the book to be as good as it can be, so that process was amazing. Yeah, definitely the, the not-writing and the not-working-it part that I found harder.

EC: Okay. So I just want to go back to talking about autism. What made you want to write a book with an autistic protagonist?

KK: I didn’t know I was writing a book with an autistic protagonist when I started writing it.

EC: (LAUGHS.)

KK: I thought I was writing a book about a socially awkward girl with anxiety and the struggles she was having in high school. And once I had probably most of the first draft, or maybe I was halfway through my first draft, I got my own autism diagnosis. And that was a kind of lengthy, took a couple of months, that process, and then it took me a little bit longer after that to get my head around what that meant for me. Once I’d had that space I kind of went, oh, that’s what’s going on with Erin in my book. And I’d kind of hit a wall with where I wanted her to go or what she was trying to say. And as soon as I had that key piece of information about her it really made the rest of the writing process a lot easier. It gave me clarity and it gave me a new lens to look at the work and what I actually was trying to say about, about Erin, about what she was going through.

EC: And correct me if I got this completely wrong, but you use identity-first language in the book. Is that right?

KK: Yeah, yep. Oh, she’s an autistic girl, is that identity first?

EC: Yeah. I was just going to ask you to explain what that means and why you decided to choose that approach in the writing, and how she describes herself?

KK: Yeah, that’s how I describe myself. I don’t necessarily understand…or I do understand but don’t necessarily agree with the idea of framing it as ‘person with autism’. I mean, people have different views on that, and people on the spectrum I’m sure have different views on that, but to be autistic is to be autistic, I don’t think it’s something that’s separate from your identity. It’s a, you know, neurological wiring or the way your brain works, and I don’t think that I exist without autism, I think that’s such an intrinsic part of my personality and the way I live my life. I don’t like stories where, you know, it’s implied that a character is autistic either, like I think just put it in there, just say the word. It’s not a dirty word, you can, you know, you don’t need to write an awkward character that, you know, is rude or as sensory issues, and then not say they’re autistic. Yeah.

EC: Yeah, the speculating feels a bit strange when you read books like that.

KK: Yeah, yeah, just say it, it’s fine.

EC: And something that Erin kind of works through in the book, actually is, is feeling proud of her identity in that respect as well.

KK: Yeah, and I think one passage that comes to mind and definitely came from my own experience is that feeling of whether or not she wants to be out as autistic, whether she wants people to know, and it’s more the idea of having to deal with other people’s reactions to it, and whether she’s going to be in a headspace to be able to navigate that. Because she has social difficulties, so if somebody’s gonna come her with their internalised ableism around what they think autism is, that’s going to be an exhausting and dehumanising process, so it’s kind of easier for people not to know, and you can kind of start from a place of trust with a person and tell them from there, that’s kind of where she’s at. But I don’t know, at the end of the day I think that there’s such little representation out there for autistic people, um, in books and also, you know, on a public platform. So if I can say I’m autistic and I can say Erin’s autistic, I think that’s gonna do more good than it’s gong to do harm.

EC: Totally, and, and also autistic girls, like I don’t think, I was trying to think of any other books I’ve read with characters who are autistic girls or women, and I just can’t, like, I don’t think I’ve really read something before that is, that sort of says that outwardly.

KK: Yeah, and I’ve sought out those books since being diagnosed and there are some, there are a few, but yeah, you kind of have to look for them and they are hard to find.

EC: Mmm. I was going to ask you next about writing for young people, because this is a young adult novel. Do you find that you need to sort of get yourself into a mindset for writing for younger people, or does it just come naturally?

KK: Um, like I said before, I think I was writing this I felt very still in those feelings, of all the things that I struggled with in my mid-20s, or very similar or still connected to things that I struggled with as a teenager. That’s where the writing started from. But once I’d sort of written one draft of it and was sort of editing it, and feeling a little bit more like I was healing and processing and all of that, I did find that I needed to get a bit of a process for feeling like, um, I could access that part of my brain. So probably music was a big part of that, like at the start I was listening to music that I listened to as a teenager, and then I just realised so much of it was awful, and just like…

EC: (LAUGHS)

KK: Because I listened to lots of like emo, pop-punk kind of stuff, and it’s just all so woman-hating, and just yuck, so I sort of veered away from that, and found music that felt like if I was a teenager now I would listen to this, or even just music that I listen to now that helps me access emotion, emotional music I guess.

EC: Yeah, that’s really cool. That’s, I’ve sort of been re-listening to, in isolation, to some of my teen favourites, and it’s kind of embarrassing when you go back and do that.

KK: Yeah, some of it’s still amazing.

EC: Yeah! Of course.

KK: It’s like old movies, like going back to your old favourite movies, and some of them are awful, you’re like oh my gosh, I was looking at this through such rose-tinted glasses, like, yeah.

EC: Totally. Is there, like, a particular kind of reader you really hope this book finds its way to? Whether that’s a young person or an adult or whoever.

KK: Yeah, um, I would love young autistic girls to find it, first and foremost. I think that would be really cool, because there’s not a lot of books out there, where they would necessarily see themselves reflected back. And every autistic person’s experience is different so I’m not claiming that this is going to speak for them, or to cover everything they’ve been through, it could be totally different and they could read it and not relate to it at all. But hopefully they might see something in there that they haven’t seen before on the page, I think that’s really cool and important. Um, and any autistic people, because I feel now, I seek out autistic books whether they’re young adult, whether they’re adult, whatever they are, it doesn’t matter, I think I’m always looking for those stories, so anyone on the spectrum I would love to read it. And also anyone that has someone on the spectrum in their life, whether it’s like an autistic kid, or a relative or if they work in that space, I think hopefully it will give people maybe a little bit of insight into what it’s like inside somebody’s mind, and how about works and what they might be able to do to help them cope better, and yeah.

EC: I think it gives such great insight as a book, like there were so many things that I’ve been thinking about all the time after finishing it—like Erin’s ‘cringe list’, which I loved, but that’s not something that I, like, as a neurotypical person have ever really thought about before, like carrying something like that around in my head, and that was good insight for me to kind of have.

KK: Yeah, and that’s not specifically something that I do, but I’m definitely really good at sitting down, having a quiet moment, and then replaying all sorts of horrible things or things that I think I’ve done, or things I’ve done wrong, or things that I’ve not understood and you know…think that I’ve done badly. So that was my way, like I guess a shorthand of explaining how somebody might view their sort of failing to mask, failing to appear neurotypical.

EC: Yeah. So something I always wonder about with young adult writing, is it difficult to put yourself in the mindset of being a teenager and having to revisit the trials and the drama and the huge feelings of teen life?

KK: Yeah, I found it, as much as it was cathartic to me. I found it very emotionally draining, emotionally exhausting to go back, especially because I struggled obviously in my teen years, so revisiting, especially the feelings of shame, or of not getting it, or those feeling where you’re just kind of not fitting in, and not being what you want to be. So yeah, it was hard, but I feel like after you’ve written it, it’s kind of like this sigh of relief, that you’ve found something in that hard process that’s something good to take from it, to share with other people, and hopefully, maybe another young person will read that and have less of a hard time, or have, you know, comfort in the fact that they’re not the only one having a hard time with it.

EC: I think you did that so brilliantly, and it’s such a, like, so sharply, like especially the scenes where Erin’s kind of with the wider group of friends, but, and they’re sort of being a bit cruel to her, like that, for me that kind of hit quite hard. I was like, oh god, I’m back there.

KK: Yeah. (LAUGHS). I had lots, I had a well of experience to draw from to write that kind of thing, but yeah, I think, I loved writing those scenes because you know, I can just put myself in that spot. Even now, even in my 30s, I can put myself in that spot of somebody giving you a look and you realise that they’re kind of laughing at you, or they’re kind of looking down at you for not getting the joke or whatever it is. I think yeah, those feelings never go away.

EC: I think that stuff just burns its way into your soul, in a way. Especially because when you’re a teenager you’re so…you’re so emotionally volatile, I think things can leave such a strong impression, and I really, when I was reading this book there were so many things that I was like, oh my god, it still feels terrible!

KK: Yeah, awkward, like, awkward and yeah, intense feelings are some of my favourite things to write. And I also think, I’ve read so many YA and teen books where the female protagonist is just this morally upstanding incredible person, who always says the right thing, stands up for the underdog, and even if she has to go against her friends and what’s cool she does, you know, she does the right thing. And I just thought, that wasn’t me in high school. I would have done anything to be liked and to fit in and to kind of fly under the radar. So I wanted to write a character where her choices weren’t always the right choices because she wasn’t strong enough in the knowing of herself to make those choices based on what she thought, so she was making choices based on what she thought other people thought she should do.

EC: Yeah. I think one of the thing I actually loved about Erin the most is, you can almost see her hurtling towards terrible decisions, like when she really wants to go to Schoolies and she’s, she’s really wanting to go to this weekend in Byron Bay with her friends, and you can just kind of see while you’re reading, like Erin, this isn’t going to go so well for you. Like it’s, it’s not where you need to be, or where you want to be! And I think that made me love her more, because I was just like, you know, I feel like a lot of people have those moments where like you say, they’re doing things they think other people think they should do, rather than just doing what they want to do in the first place.

KK: Yeah, and I think, I don’t know whether it’s an autistic thing or a teenage thing or a combination of both, but I have often and did often find myself in situations where my realisation that I wasn’t going to enjoy that situation didn’t kick in until either right before it happened, or as it was happening. So it’s only through the happening of the thing that was never going to be the right fit that you realise that, so I guess that was what I drew on for the holiday and, and the Schoolies trip. Even the boy, the boyfriend Nick…

EC: Oh, he’s terrible! (LAUGHS).

KK: We went back and forward, my editor and I went back and forward and she was kind of like ‘maybe we should make him a bit more likeable’, and I was kind of like, oh, I want him to be, I don’t want it to be a romance, I don’t want to give any spoilers away but I want it to almost be like an anti-romance book, where the hard thing for Erin is the change. So she knows, whether or not she admits that it’s not a great relationship, but it’s going through the change of a breakup and separating herself from that person feels like the hardest thing to do, even in knowing that.

EC: Yeah definitely. He was, I really like the way you wrote that relationship, because like, I think, you know, how many people do you know who had a great first relationship in high school? Like it’s not, it’s not really—I mean it happens, but there are those sort of terrible pairings. And of course, you know Erin, as you say, not wanting the change and not wanting to go with the break, breakup, and then he breaks up with her, no sorry, she breaks up with him, and he kinda just ignores it, and she just like…doesn’t really know what to do so she just lets it keep going. Like that was brilliantly done as well.

KK: Yeah, I think autistic people as well are vulnerable for all kinds of toxic and abusive relationships, not that that was necessarily an abusive relationship, but it was very toxic.

EC: Oh yeah.

KK: Um, and because you’re constantly being told that your gut reaction or your initial feeling about something is wrong, and to suppress that. So you’re left, I guess, just kind of not knowing what, whether what you’re feeling is what you should be feeling, or whether it’s somebody else’s in your shoes they would be feeling differently, so I think that, yeah, that’s kind of something I wanted to explore in their relationship a little bit. Yeah.

EC: Yeah. So just changing track a little bit, I want to know what it’s like, what it’s been like releasing your first book into the world during this major global pandemic. It must be very strange.

KK: Yeah, it is very strange. I don’t want to be the person that needs to put a positive spin on everything, it’s such an intense time at the moment.

EC: Of course.

KK: So many people going through so many horrible things like grief and trauma and financial stress, and uncertainty, and for me, not knowing what the plan is and what’s happening next and what the next 3 months and 6 months are going to look like is very disruptive to my mental health, so there’ve been big challenges like that, you know, not having the normal support network around me that I usually lean on in terms of getting help with looking after my child, my toddler, to get the downtime that I need for processing and I guess a bit of mental rest, especially when I’m doing things like interviews and that, where it’s outside my comfort zone, so I definitely need the downtime to recover from that. But on the flipside, and one thing I keep coming back to is the accessibility of events at the moment, and how amazing that has been. And for my launch last week being a digital lunch with Avid Reader in Brisbane, it went so well and it was such a special night and I wonder if I would have been able to have the conversation that I had with Claire Christian who hosted the event, and say what I wanted to say if I had been in the physical space, sitting up in front of a room for people, you know, with bright lights shining into my face, speaking into a microphone, whether I would have yeah, been able to process all of that and to deal with all that, to say what I wanted to say. And I think that’s probably…a reflection, you know, why the book is written in letters. It’s because that puts a bit of distance between Erin and the things that are happening, so she’s able to process it, and I feel like an event being held digitally puts that little bit of space between me and people to allow me to process it and perform it in a way that I’m happy with.

EC: That’s really nice, I hadn’t really thought about that, because it’s, you know, things are changing every day, and so fast, and I think in a way it is actually great that these literary events have been able to be digital, because as you say it is more accessible, and you know, being, being in that physical space can be difficult for authors, but also for attendees as well, people who might want to go to things, but it’s it’s not easy to get out of the house, or it’s not comfortable.

KK: Yep, and I always say I’ve got like the triple threat of, I live regionally, I have small child and a disability. So getting out and going to events is really really hard even at the best of times. So I hope that we see lots more digital events moving forward even when things go back to somewhat normal.

EC: Absolutely. And just one final question. What are some other OwnVoices novels that you can recommend to people listening?

KK: Yeah, cool. I have to say Anna Whateley Peta Lyre’s Rating Normal. It’s another Own Voices Australian YA, with an autistic, she’s got autism and ADHD, the character Peta Lyre, and it came out on the same day as my book, which is just really, really cool because it is two stories of autistic girls, totally different stories and styles, and what we both wanted to say, but it’s lovely to see them both out there on bookshelves now and existing. And…trying to think of another Own Voices story… Oh, I would say maybe Ghost Bird by Lisa Fuller, that’s another YA, it’s an Indigenous story that sort of leans into spiritual, spirituality, but it’s also a bit of a thriller, it’s hard to explain the genre of that book but it’s gripping and really incredibly written.

EC: And I’m just going to tack on one of my own, it’s not a book, it’s actually a TV series that I just happened to be watching at the same time as I was reading your book. The new Josh Thomas series Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, have you watched that? It’s so good.

KK: No, I’ve only watched the little clips they share on, um, on Twitter. Where are you watching it, what platform are you watching it?

EC: It’s on Stan…

KK: Oh, OK.

EC: And it’s, the first episode, the premise is that this young Australian guy, his father left when he was a kid, moved to America and had two daughters, and the eldest daughter is autistic. And then the father dies, so Josh Thomas is playing the character who has to come back, come to America look after his two teenage sisters, and sort of, the daughter who is autistic, she’s, she’s kind of a brilliant composer, but also, she’s, she’s, you know, got all the social awkwardness, and is trying to navigate being at high school, whatever the American equivalent of Year 12 is. But it’s just so great, and the actor has, is autistic, who plays her.

KK: Yeah…Everything I’ve seen, sorry, everything I’ve seen written about it has been really positive from the autistic community.

EC: Yeah, it’s really great and I think it was a nice, like I just happened to watch it at the same time as reading your book, but it was so nice to do them alongside each other, because the character in the TV series is totally different to Erin, totally different set of circumstances, but it was just nice to see those two representations alongside each other, and that stuff like that is kind of organically coming out into the world.

KK: Yeah, and I think Josh Thomas as well does that balance of funny and serious really well.

EC: Yeah yeah, it’s brilliant, you’re crying and laughing at the same time, like hysterically.

KK: Yeah, I’ll have to watch it.

EC: Yeah I recommend it as an isolation watch as well, although the first episode, emotionally devastating. But from that point onwards, it’s pretty, it’s pretty good. Thank you so much for chatting to me today, Kay, it was really, really nice to talk to you, and it’s a wonderful book and everybody should read it if you haven’t already.

KK: Thank you so much.

AC: That was the May First Book Club edition of the Kill Your Darlings Podcast. We’ll be back soon, but while you’re waiting you should drop in on the KYD website for new commentary, criticism, memoir, interviews and reviews. If you’re in a position to, please consider supporting KYD by becoming a member. You’ll receive exclusive access to members-only content, as well as heaps of other great perks and discounts, while also supporting independent Australian publishing. Thanks for joining us, see you next time.