It is an absolute honour to be awarded the 2023 book award for Older Readers. The books I write are based on issues I have dealt with, and deal with, first-hand, and whenever you write something so close to real experiences and put a big piece of yourself out there for others, it can be nerve wracking to see how readers will respond. I’m delighted The Bravest Word has been recognised for its authenticity.

I write books for children about themes and content that I feel are currently missing from shelves, or perhaps not written in a fair, authentic or accessible way for all children. Most of my books star autistic children who don’t have to prove themselves in any way, or to change to fit in; children who are already loved and cherished for who they are. As an autistic person I’m tired of only ever seeing myself in books that teach others and deal with trauma. I try to offer balance above all else.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my book. I hope, with your support, it goes on to touch and change the lives of children and their families, friends, and anyone else affected by depression and anxiety, leave shame at the door, and encourage them to talk and share openly as early as possible.