My co-author for Elemental Island
One of the joys of living an expat life, is the people you meet. When I was living in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, I met Judit Kiss through a writing group and we became great friends. Eventually she moved away to live in Budapest, Hungary, but that just gave me an excuse to visit her. On one such visit, we were mulling over what it would be like if the whole world was full of people on the Autism spectrum and neurotypicals were diagnosed with Social Syndrome. Before we knew it, we had filled a notebook with ideas, drafted a proposal and sent it off to Jessica Kingsley Publishers, who immediately said. "Yes!"
Neither of us had worked closely with another writer before, so it was exciting to delve into the world of co-authorship. We were struck by how much richer a novel could be when two minds were at work. We fed off each other’s imagination and brought out each other’s strengths.
The mechanics of co-authoring a book whilst living 5,000 km apart was surprisingly simple. Each day one of us was allocated the master copy, would work on it, and send it back via email for comments and editing. The master was meticulously documented and could be renamed several times in a single day!
We were thrilled when Elemental Island won a silver medal in the Nautilus Award. This award is given to literature that changes the world to make it a better place. Tony Attwood, a leading expert in the field of autism said this about Elemental Island, "The exciting and humorous storyline will captivate the reader and also change and enhance our perception and understanding of the challenges faced by those who have an ASD. Fiction can create a paradigm shift more effectively than facts."
Judit and I are of the belief that literature, especially for children, is very powerful. You open a book and get lost in the world the author has created for you. You relate to the characters and learn through their experiences. Understanding brings acceptance, and beyond acceptance is the realisation that we each have our place in the world and our role to play. Elemental Island supports the fact that each individual fits into the tapestry of life, and that diversity of human traits, abilities and characters is key for any society to reach its full potential. If we are able to impart this to our children, we give them the tools to create a better world where everyone is appreciated for who they are.
Judit and I have plans to work together in the future, so keep an eye out for the next Hoopmann/Kiss book:)