In this interview, Maisie Voyager – star of the new novel, The Adventure of Maisie Voyager – takes some time from treasure hunting, travelling and taking on bad guys to share some tips and tales from her life with her Aunt Hetty.

Maisie’s story was written by her good friend, Lucy Skye, who appreciates Maisie’s unique outlook on life and thinks that all kids will relate to it – especially those on the autism spectrum.

Welcome Maisie! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you came to live with your aunt?

I live with my Aunt because she owns the house I sleep in. How I ended up here is a long, long, long story that covers all of the years I have been alive. The short answer is that I used to travel around the world (and up and down) with my mum and dad. But then my mum became ill with a sleepy hot sickness. They got worried that some of their travels were going to be too dangerous for me, so Aunt Hetty offered to take care of me for a while. I don’t really need taking care of, but I do need a place to live. I thought I might be able to build a hut in the forest and stay there on my own, with just the monkeys for company, and the spiders. But I knew that wasn’t going to be okay with everyone else, especially my mum and dad!

It’s a bit strange living in one place rather than travelling around the world, like I’m used to. I don’t like change, but when I travelled about, mum and dad and I stayed the same. Now, it’s the same walls every day, but I don’t know myself as well, and that’s harder to deal with.

I like being with Aunt Hetty. She lets me do my own thing a lot of the time, and doesn’t complain too much when I race worms down the hall, or see what it’s like to use an umbrella in the shower (I didn’t want my hair to get wet).

What are your favourite things to see and do at the moment?

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The best things about my life at the moment are all the books I can read from the library and Aunt Hetty’s bookshelves. There’s so much to look at and find out! The library is one of my favourite places because it’s quiet and the books don’t talk back at you when you chat to them. That’s another thing; I quite like chatting to myself. It means I can persuade myself to do things that I find hard, and reassure myself if I’m scared. Other people seem to go and talk to friends, but you don’t always know what a friend might say. Talking to myself and asking myself questions means I have more control over the response!

I do like friends, but only people I know really well who don’t tease me because I don’t know the right words for things, or because I eat things in certain ways, or because I haven’t watched certain TV programmes.

To be honest, I like lots of things. If I haven’t done something before I can get a bit worried, but then I often end up loving it. Some of the things I know I definitely like are: swimming in the sea, watching cartoons, playing snap by myself, writing letters to myself, going for walks with Aunt Hetty, learning about new countries, and animals. I also love ice cream!

We hear you don’t like the colour purple. What do you do to make yourself feel better if you see it?

I talk to myself and tell myself that it’s only red and blue mixed up. I like red and blue. So then I try and remember lots of different things that are red and lots of different things that are blue. By the time I’ve done that, the purple thing has gone, or I can at least try and ignore it. I don’t know why I don’t like purple, I just don’t. It makes my eyes and tummy ache, and my head. So I can’t wear purple clothes or eat purple food, luckily there’s not too much purple food. I have a bit of trouble with beetroot unless it’s just the juice (because that then looks pink). But this week I saw yellow beetroot, and that was brilliant!

I think I’d like to try and grow food into other colours when I’m older. You could have blue carrots and all sorts of weird and wonderful things!

Tell us about your love for cooking: what is your favourite dish that you’ve ever cooked from your Aunt Hetty’s big scrapbook?

I like cooking because it has an order, but then I also like making things up. Last weekend I made this cheeze thing. It was cheeze with a ‘z’ because it was cheese, but for people who don’t eat milk and eggs and animals. It was going ok until I decided to put lots more cornflour in it to make it thicker, and then it became a cheeze lump… A clump!

The weirdest recipes Aunt Hetty has are some from Tudor times. She doesn’t have any friends that are that old (I don’t think), but one of the museum people that she knows works where Henry VIII used to live. She’s got these recipes for onions in milk, and gingerbread that’s all honey and bee buzz and breadcrumbs. Oh, and then there’s this weird cabbage with cinnamon and ginger and mace. It’s all quite spicy and makes my eyes prickly and my nose twitch. It’s nice food but would probably be nicer if I didn’t know about pizza and ice cream and custard and garlic bread from nowadays.

She also has a recipe for witchety grubs. I don’t ever, ever, ever want to eat another grub. One was enough. Yuk, yuk, yuk!

To read more about Maisie and her unique and positive perspective on life, check out
The Adventure of Maisie Voyager and read this interview with Lucy Skye, Maisie’s friend and biographer.

Copyright © Jessica Kingsley Publishers 2012.

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