So many talented young autistic authors and artists are hard at work today, and one of our favorites here at A NOVEL MIND is Alex Adlawan. Through her books, school visits, and fun characters, she is putting something good out in the world for kids. Come meet her!
Tell us a little about yourself, Alex. (Background, schooling, etc.)
I am an author and illustrator. I have written four books in my children's book series, 'The Adventures of Maddie and Albert,' and am working on a fifth book. I have also completed a three-book illustration project for Bobbie Match and Busy One Books.
One of my favorite pastimes is reading and listening to audiobooks. I've read so many books that I started a book review blog. I have written over 415 reviews over the past seven years, and I don't plan to stop anytime soon.
I like spending time with my service dog, Dude. I enjoy taking him for walks and brushing his fur.
2. When did you realize that you wanted to illustrate and write children's books?
I didn't know I wanted to write and illustrate stories for a living until I went to an art and animation school in California for autistic young adults. I was good at animating, but it caused me more stress than I could handle. It made me realize I'd rather have my characters on a page than move on a screen.
3. What are some of the extra challenges of being an autistic author/artist? What are some of the strengths?
My main struggle is my dire need to make everything I write and draw perfect and right. Right being relative.
When I'm working on a story based on facts, I'm constantly worried that my work isn't factually correct. I'm terrified that someone will come up to me and say that what I wrote or drew isn't right.
4. Your characters, Maddie and Albert, are two cute kids with very different personalities who have such imaginative, quietly humorous adventures. Where do you come up with your ideas?
I started developing Maddie and Albert back in 2009. I initially drew them with a group of teenage characters called the Outkasts. Over time, I started concentrating more on Maddie and Albert because they were more fun. They are the kind of characters you can draw doing anything and are always cute.
One of my first story ideas was Maddie and Albert having fun during the summer. I was originally going to have them do over a hundred things in a week, but I downgraded to my top sixteen ideas.
I wanted to write a story that went back and forth between fantasy and reality, but I couldn't come up with an overall story concept. I finally came up with an idea while walking my dog.
One day I decided I wanted to draw Maddie and Albert traveling to different countries and make them into postcards. This idea evolved into my third book, 'Flying the Imaginary Skies.' I'm still hoping to make postcards someday.
5. Tell us about Dude. Will Dude ever appear in a story?
Dude is my autism service dog. I've had him for eight years. He's my best friend. He's never far from my side.
I love bringing him to school readings. He gets more attention than I do, and I'm ok with that. He helps take the focus off of me so I can relax in social situations.
Everyone asks me if I'm going to include Dude in one of my books. If I write a book about Houdini hanging out with other dogs, I'll include Dude.
6. What do you like best about being a children's author/presenter?
I love reading my books to an audience of kids and hearing their reactions. Their enthusiasm fuels me through long readings. I especially enjoy answering their questions. Some are well-thought-out, and some are well-meaning comments. The little ones ask the same question repeatedly because they don't understand how to ask a question but want to be involved. It's all adorable.
My favorite comment will always be: 'My name is Chloe, and I love my mom.'
7. What's next for you? What is your ultimate dream goal?
I'm currently working on my fifth book. This one is a submarine ocean adventure with a special guest star. And no, it's not my dog Dude.
My goal is to continue my Maddie and Albert series. I have several story ideas, including a Halloween and winter break story.
Alexandra Adlawan is a writer and illustrator from Long Beach, CA, and the creator of the Amazing Artists publishing company. A naturally gifted visual arts and written word communicator in reaching children, Alexandra enhanced her skill set by graduating from a professional digital arts & animation studio for artists with autism. Alexandra’s The Adventures of Maddie and Albert series includes - Wild Imagination, How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Flying the Imaginary Skies, and the forthcoming, Backyard Jungle.
Find out more about Alex and her books at https://amazingartists.online!