I’m not sure how I came across Odd Girl Out; it has been a book on my reading  wishlist for a while now. It was probably the bright cover, or the tagline; anyone, as I was given book vouchers for my birthday, I decided to buy it. And I was not disappointed.

About the book:

Odd Girl Out is a biographical account of Laura’s life; it examines with flashes back and forth, having received her Autism diagnosis. It begins with looking at paperwork related to her diagnosis, with her husband, on holiday. We then see Laura as a child, struggling somewhat. (I find how she writes this account very effective!) She is also a young mother, a journalist, a wife; there are also moments after the diagnosis, such as wondering how her life could have been very different.

Thoughts as someone #ActuallyAutistic:

Finally, at last someone ‘gets it’!

I have read around the subject of Autism, especially since I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome in January 2015. Even by that point, I had had enough of medical jargon, the assumptions, and various individuals forming ideas of who I was as a person. (Not always someone who was valued a lot; they were the sort who freaked on finding out the diagnosis, then being horrible.)

But this book is a reflection, really, of what I felt. Since then, I have wondered what my life would have been like if diagnosed early; some teacher were not necessarily the best help with or without it. I also think that I’d have been told less of what I can’t do; I was told that I can’t cook well, that I cannot do PE well enough to be considered ‘good’.
As an Autistic individual, I was happy to find this book. I am bored with the instruction manuals about how to be more neuro-typical, the books by parents writing about how hard it is to have an autistic child is. Laura has an interesting writers voice-one we need-and I hope to hear more from her.

What could have been better: 

I found the first chapter revealing, really.

At times I think the book can be a little be ‘fact heavy’-which is ironic, as I kind of live my life by facts. (To illustrate further; I can recite all Presidents since Herbert Hoover, what their party was, and if they were a Vice President.) However, this is a way to illustrate a point-which comes across as being very much a hallmark. Though I couldn’t always quite get my head round it, I wouldn’t have changed it at all.

To buy the book on Amazon, click here. Follow Laura on Twitter here.  And read my interview with her here. 

(Thank you to Kerry Hood, the kind publicist at Hodder, who sent me this.)

If you’ve heard of Jodi Picoult, you’ve probably heard of My Sister’s Keeper, or maybe even The Storyteller. She writes fictional novels, dealing with issues, that are often ethical, and where boundaries are often blurred. These include School shooting, Teen Suicide, Aspergers Syndrome, and Same-sex marriage. But what is truly magic is when she writes with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer.

Off The Page is the stunning sequel to Between The Lines; Prince Oliver has come out of his book, to be with his true love, Delilah. However can it truly last?

I liked the quips best of all-all to do with Fairy tales. Oliver has to pretend to be an ordinary High School Student, sitting SATS, thinking about girls. It’s NOT easy when your head is filled with only the stuff of Far Far Away. For example, during a test that has the potential to make or break him going to college, he draws a dragon. An elaborate one at that. All during a Maths test.

It all comes to ahead when the fairy tale has trouble accepting new characters, and confuses different wishes. But will they be discovered?

Above all, I particularly loved the twist at the end, meaning that one of the characters is saved. Having felt that these characters were almost real in the four days reading, I could feel myself grinning, as the book finally closed. I just wished that there were far more characters who were allowed to tell the story; that way, it could have had just a little bit more depth.

This is a book that I particularly think that teenagers will enjoy; why? There’s a certain sense of empathy to teens of the book.
Click here to buy.

One of my favorite books is Mad Girl’s Love Song by Andrew Wilson; so I decided, why not interview him? Since  he also has a new book coming out-today in fact-I also have asked him some questions about his Alexander McQueen biography. (Click here to buy.) Also, don’t forget to visit the Savage Beauty exhibition-to do with McQueen-at the V&A:
Hello Andrew, thank you for agreeing to this interview. When growing up, did you ever think you would want to be a writer ?
Yes I always wanted to write, since a child. I wrote stories and made little newspapers full of local news.
Do you have any other experience-such as in journalism?
After an English degree at King’s, London, I did a year MA in journalism at City University in London. Then I got a job in magazines and then worked on staff for a few years before I went freelance, writing for everything from the Face to the Sunday Times to the Independent to the Mail. My first book was Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith – and since then I’ve written biographies of Harold Robbins, the survivors of the Titanic, Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted and a novel, The Lying Tongue.
 Could you please take us through your average working day ?
It depends what kind of day it is – whether it’s writing, interviewing, researching or reading. All this depends on which stage I am at and what I am writing. I also still write journalism so I could be interviewing a writer or an actor. If I am writing I like to do about 1,000 words a day – all depending on the deadline.
Did anything specifically give you the idea to write a book about Sylvia Plath, prior to life with Ted Hughes ?
Basically very little had been done on this. Most books rushed the early life to get to the meeting of Sylvia and Ted. And I also came across a huge amount of new, unpublished material and tracked down friends and lovers who had never spoken before.
How did you begin to research the fundamental basis of the manuscript?
I spent a couple of months in America at the two big Plath archives – one at Smith College and the other in Bloomington, Indiana. At the same time I started to track down people who had known Plath.
Out of all her poetry, do you have a favourite poem ?
Mad Girl’s Love Song – after which I named the book.

Did you come across any surprising material about her ?
A great deal. I like to think I banished the myth of Sylvia as a victim. She was much more knowing and intelligent and, at times, manipulative than that. Also her mental illness started at a young she but wen undiagnosed.
At any time, did your impression/initial judgment of Sylvia  change ?
It changed a lot – often several times during the course of one day. That is the difficult aspect of biography – you have to try and represent a person in all their complexity, with often contradictory impulses and desires.
 This week you have a new book out ,about Alexander McQueen. Congratulations! What was the inspiration behind the book ?
I started work on a year before the announcement of the V&A’s show Savage Beauty which opens in March. I had always been intrigued by him as a designer and stager of shows that became art installations. I suspected his story would be a complex one which many layers and secrets, hopefully which I’ve teased out. Again I hope to have represented him in all his complexity.
 Have you ever worn any of his designs ?
Only the odd T-shirt – some of his clothes are out of my price range! But that is not to say I don’t admire them.
Like Sylvia Plath, would you subscribe to the view that he was possibly a tortured artist ?
Definitely. He was driven by a dark vision.
How would describe McQueen in five words ?
Vulnerable, insecure, gifted, visionary, honest.

How long did the book take to write ?
Two years and this was almost solid work. So I didn’t do much other work during this time.
 Are there any other books you have planned, to do with designers -such as Chanel ?
Not at the moment.
For anyone wishing to follow in your footsteps, do you have any tips ?
Follow your instincts, ask questions, work hard. Don’t be put off.
And one random question: do you like pizza ?
Don’t forget to buy Alexander McQueen by Andrew Wilson (click here.) Also, don’t forget to buy Mad Girl’s Love Song (click here.) And finally, don’t forget to book your tickets for The Savage Beauty Exhibition (click here to book.)