Episode 2

Exploring autism through YA fiction with Kay Kerr

Kay Kerr is a former journalist and community newspaper editor from Brisbane. She now lives on the Sunshine Coast with her husband and daughter and works as a freelance writer. Her debut young adult novel, Please Don’t Hug Me, was inspired by her own autism-spectrum diagnosis. 

The interview starts at 17 minutes.

This week, we started the episode with a mini book club discussion of Olive by Emma Gannon. Overall: We loved this book and recommend to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction and likes discussing female friendships.

*Note: We both received PR copies of Olive for review. 

In the interview, we chat about: 

  • Sibling relationships in YA fiction (and life)
  • Working as a journalist in regional Queensland, including the closure and downsizing of dozens of small publications in mid-2020
  • Kay’s own autism spectrum diagnosis and the experience of writing a neurodivergent character
  • How Kay navigated the pitching process and sold Please Don’t Hug Me
  • Why Kay decided to date the book with specific Queensland high school references
  • The catharsis of writing about and reflecting on the emotion of writing about high school
  • The unexpected benefits of launching a book in a pandemic
  • A little bit about Kay’s next novel, Social Queue

Books and other things mentioned

Follow Kay @kaykerr_. Please Don't Hug Me is available now in Australia. 

Follow us on Instagram @betterwordspod

About the Podcast

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Better Words

About your hosts

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Caitlin Toohey

Hi, I'm Caitlin! I've been on bookstagram since 2016, a podcaster since 2017, and worked in publishing since 2019. So books and reading are my entire life. When I'm not reading, I like listening to Taylor Swift, watching sitcoms, and generally being a theatre kid.
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Michelle Gately

Hi, I'm Michelle! I'm an Aussie living in the UK, working as a bookseller at Waterstones. I'm obsessed with storytelling in all its forms – I spend as much time watching TV or listening to podcasts as I do reading. Other hobbies include bouldering, hiking and generally obsessing about my pug Percy.