Episode 399: Neurodiversity, Family Dynamics, and Cooking: Adventures in Contemporary Middle Grade Fiction – Interview with Gillian McDunn

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Gillian McDunn. We’ll be talking about Honestly Elliott, a middle grade novel about a big-hearted boy trying to find the way to his best self. 

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In this episode Gillian McDunn and I discuss:

  • How she created a dynamic depiction of neurodiversity in a novel for middle grade readers.
  • What children can learn from cooking and how it applies to other life skills.
  • Why middle school is an intense time for learning about adult dynamics.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Gillian McDunn

Gillian McDunn is the author of These Unlucky Stars, The Queen Bee and Me, and Caterpillar Summer, which received two starred reviews and was selected for the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and Kirkus Reviews and Parents magazine Best Books of the Year lists. When she isn’t reading or writing, she is probably cooking, traveling, or spending time with her family. She lives near Raleigh, North Carolina, with her husband and children, and a very silly dog named Friday.

You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or Goodreads.

Honestly Elliott

Sometimes finding yourself can be a little messy … 

Elliott has been struggling since starting middle school, when his ADHD spiraled and his best friend moved away. He’s not too sure where he fits into his own family either, especially since his newly remarried dad and stepmom are expecting a baby. Especially when he already feels like his dad just doesn’t get him–or the fact that Elliott is happiest when he’s cooking. The kitchen’s scents and sizzles always ignite his creativity. There, it’s actually a good thing to have a brain that goes in six directions at once. 

When he’s paired with the super smart and popular Maribel for a school-wide project, Elliott worries they won’t see eye to eye. But Maribel is also looking for a new way to show others her true self and this project could be the chance they’ve both been waiting for.

Sometimes the least likely friends help you see a new side to things . . . and sometimes you have to make a few mistakes before you figure out what’s right.

Highly-acclaimed author of Caterpillar Summer, Gillian McDunn explores boyhood in a funny and big-hearted story about a kid trying to find the best way to be his best self. 

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Amazon affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 399

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