I’m a disabled writer: here’s why I wrote my debut novel

Lisette Auton is a disabled writer, activist, poet, novelist, spoken-word artist, actor, film and theatre-maker and creative practitioner. Her debut book, The Secret of Haven Point, has just been published with Puffin Books. Lisette shares why disability representation is so important to her.

A grinning woman with long brown hair is holding a copy of her book, it has a lighthouse on the cover and there's a real life lighthouse in the background!
Lisette stands in front of a lighthouse with her debut novel in hand.

My name is Lisette Auton and I live in Darlington, which is in the North East of England. I’m a river lass from a sprawling family of sea folk.

I’m a white woman with freckles and brown hair of constantly changing length. I sometimes use a purple Perspex stick. Or one of my other purple sticks. One can never have too many…

My debut novel has just been published

My favourite biscuits are custard creams and I like to dip them into black decaf Co-op own-brand tea. I have a literary rescue dog from the Dog’s Trust called Harper Lee. I love reading, sitting in sunbeams, growing new freckles, trying to change the world before nap-time, organising bookshelves, the seaside, rivers and kindness.

I’m really excited right now because my debut middle-grade novel, The Secret of Haven Point, has just been published!

Books transport us and open windows

Books are magical – they have saved me on so many occasions; during breakups, when life was far from sunny, and from boredom during interminable waits on freezing cold train station platforms. For a long time they were also my main companions. They have the ability to not only transport us to new places, but to new ideas and open windows onto other people’s lives.

Basically, I love books.

But when impairment struck, I fell out of love. Where were all the diverse, disabled, neurodivergent and chronically ill characters having adventures, getting into mischief, living well-rounded exceptional and ordinary lives?

Where were the books that showed disabled children that they were important and wonderful exactly the way they are? Where were the books that showed their non-disabled peers that disabled people are not just the baddies, the sidekick, the person waiting around to be magically fixed?

They were so few and far between, and almost impossible to find.

I wrote my book to tackle underrepresentation

That’s why I wrote my book, where a gang of disabled friends have an adventure, get into trouble, get things wrong, fall out with each other, make friends again – and basically are having the time of their ruddy lives! Because I needed to read this, because other people need to read this – disabled people, disabled children, disabled parents, non-disabled parents, non-disabled people, allies, booksellers, teachers…

I hope that if ever anyone is in the position I was in, with a blank space in the media, in art, in literature, which says that your life is not important or worthy enough to be celebrated, that it will soon be filled by more underrepresented voices telling the stories the world needs to read.

And, hey there’s a Cap’n with a kitten in his beard and fierce mermaids, isn’t that something we all need a bit more of, no matter who we are?

The Secret of Haven Point is out now

Lisette Auton’s debut novel is now available to buy.