This is the second interviw in my “professional” series, where I was recently honoured to interview best-selling author Kathy Hoopman.
What is your background? You are originally from Toowoomba, right? How did you get from there to Dubai?
I was born in Toowoomba, where I lived for twenty years and studied primary teaching at the Darling Downs Institute of Advance Education (now University of Southern Queensland). I married right out of uni and went to work in Brisbane as a teacher in Prince of Peace Lutheran Primary School which was so new, it was still a cabbage patch when I got the jobJ. I taught full time until I had children then I moved into relief teaching whilst I started my writing career. We moved to Dubai in 2003 with my husband’s work, and stayed until mid 2011. Then we took a gap year and spent a year back in Australia doing renovations and catching up on family and friends. We returned to Dubai in Sept 2012 and plan another three year stay.
How did you become an author?
When I was a school teacher, I read many books to my classes and love the worlds that were created. Finally I decided to create my own worlds. At first I wrote novels; some were published and some weren’t. But strangely enough my first book published was a book of plays based on Bible stories. It was a ‘right time, right place’ book. But then I became interested in Asperger’s and wanted to capture the positives of the syndrome in an Aspie character. I will never forget the day I was at an Autism conference where Tony Attwood was speaking. At lunch time I waited until the long line of people, wanting to catch his attention, dwindled, and I nervously told him about the novel I had just completed. He was gracious enough to look at it and gave his endorsement and Blue Bottle Mystery was picked up by Jessica Kingsley who has published all my Asperger books since then.
You have written a total of 7 books, is that right?
I have fifteen books published in Australia, the UK, US and the UAE, with translations into ten languages. Six deal with Asperger’s and one is on ADHD.
All Cats have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs have ADHD have been very successful. What do you think the main reason for this is?
Many books on special needs are quite long to read and can be full of medical jargon. Although these books are essential, many people simply want a quick overview. I think what makes All Cats have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs have ADHD so successful is that in ten minutes a reader can understand the essence of these syndromes, both the negatives and the positives, and come away with a smile on their faces and hope in their hearts.
I have just read your latest book Inside Aspergers Looking Out and it is just as fabulous. This book is different in that it is for Neurotypicals, in terms of them learning about what it’s like to be Aspie. What made you to decide to write this book?
In Sept 2011, in my ‘gap’ year, I heard John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye) speak at the Brisbane Writer’s Conference. I was moved by the entirely different way he saw Asperger’s and how he could explain it so that it was no longer facts, but life. I was privileged to have lunch with him and I mooted the concept of writing a book along these lines – that is from the eyes of an Aspie. Not having Asperger’s, this book took a lot of research and I listened to hours and hours of Youtube videos by Aspies, and joined online Asperger sites to get their insights. By Feb 2012, it was finished and in the hands of my publisher.
What is it like in Dubai, in terms of Autism and services?
I have to admit that I am out of the link here and have little contact with Asperger/Autism providers. However, I understand that slowly schools and clinics are striving to incorporate special needs programmes and are beginning to employ specialists in these areas. Unfortunately, many children do not receive the assistance required and many schools still refuse to take any children with special needs of any kind.
Are we going to get a chance to read anymore Kathy Hoopman books?
I have dabbled with writing a teacher’s handbook on how to deal with Asperger’s in the classroom, but it is on the back burner at present. Currently I am branching into a new area of writing and I am working on a children’s Christian book which is trying to capture the essence of the Bible in eighty picture book pages. It is a fascinating and hugely challenging project.
Where can we buy your books?
Many of the larger book lines either stock my books or can order them in. My distributor in Australia is Footprints Books http://www.footprint.com.au/ and all of my Asperger titles can be ordered through them. Online stores like Amazon, Book Depository and Fishpond all have my works too.
Thank-you so much for this interview Kathy.
Tania Marshall©. 2013. Interview Professional Series. All rights reserved. Duplication in whole or part is explicitly forbidden. Thank you.