My beloved Betty in her final days.
I received a very nice message from James Sinclair, writer/creator of Autistic & Unapologetic. He'd read about The Dog Thief and asked is the main character, Maddie, is on the autism spectrum because I hadn't said so specifically in descriptions.

The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that I wrote Maddie as an individual with issues, including physical twitches and fixations, that make her an outsider. She says, “Don’t label me. Labels make others feel free to tell me what I should think, feel, do, and say, when my life is none of anyone else’s goddamn business."

I shared with James my concern that if I described Maddie has having Asperger's others would judge the character by their strict definition of the syndrome, which goes against the fictional character's sense of herself and also my own ideas about individuality and being an outsider.

Well, being a misfit who struggles with the desire for acceptance/home and the inability to be anything other than oneself is a theme that runs through my books and my life.

Maddie always says and does the wrong thing with other people. But she can communicate with animals on a level beyond all the complexity and subtext of human interactions. I hope readers will come to appreciate Maddie for who she is.