Publisher to produce fantasy novel with autistic hero after her own diagnosis

A female publisher who has mentored more than 200 authors is hoping to produce a book of her own featuring a neurodivergent main character after she was diagnosed with autism.

Daniella Blechner (pictured) started writing the children’s fantasy novel called Sadie The Great Album Cover Heartist in 2009. It follows an undiagnosed 11-year-old autistic girl from West Norwood called Sadie Thompson, who is called to save the dreams of humanity despite dealing with the loss of her father.

After 14 years of work and having helped hundreds to become published authors with her business Conscious Dreams Publishing, the 43-year-old from Croydon, south London, is raising funds to get the first book she wrote published and help young people who “feel marginalised” to “feel seen”.

“My main character is of mixed heritage and she’s neurodivergent and so am I,” she told the PA news agency.

“I want young people who may feel marginalised or like they don’t fit in, like Sadie, to feel seen, loved and believe that they can be heroes in their own world.

“I want them to feel visible and explore their untapped gifts and talents and start to view their greatest challenges as what could eventually become their greatest superpower.”

Ms Blechner was diagnosed with autism and traits of other neurodivergent conditions including ADHD and dyspraxia last year, which she said was a “huge sigh of relief”.

“It was a sense of confirmation and self-validation. I was able to put a name to all these different strands that existed inside me and, more importantly, allowed me to have a greater sense of self-compassion instead of beating myself up,” she said.

“As I’ve grown up, I’ve had to work extra hard to mask some of my traits and find strategies to cope, to the point where people who don’t know me well find it hard to believe I’m ‘on the spectrum’.

“As a child, I was often labelled disorganised and forgetful.

“I was forever losing things, struggled with spatial awareness, had repeated habits (stims) … but I was able to remember chains of numbers, find patterns and sequences and my escapism and where I felt I was truly able to express myself was through writing.”

Ms Blechner set up her publishing house in 2015 and has mentored more than 200 authors in publishing their own books, but felt it was finally time to devote herself to her passion project.

Having re-edited her book “more times than she can count”, her diagnosis inspired her to recreate her main character Sadie as neurodivergent.

“I think I wrote Sadie as me and only realised after the diagnosis that the neurodivergent traits were there,” she said.

Ms Blechner hopes the book “injects some magic back into young people’s imaginations”.

Over the course of this month, Ms Blechner has been visited daily by a white pigeon – which she has named Piper – which squeezes itself through her window, or sometimes just flies in repeatedly.

She said the pigeon – which has its own Instagram account, pipersnowthepigeon – has aided her drive to get the book published.

“White pigeons represent messages from the loved ones who have passed on as well as a message to reignite past passions,” she said.

“Since he came through the window, I thought now is the time to get into action and get the book published, so I set up a crowdfunder.”

As well as funding the book, money raised through the fundraiser will go towards running storytelling workshops in care homes, prisons and schools to “preserve their stories and get them down on paper”.

She said support for the crowdfunder has “meant the world to me”, as has support from her partner Neville.

“I’m very much behind the scenes of other people’s work, so to put myself in the spotlight and see the appreciation is so heartwarming,” she added.

Her father Ron Blechner died in 2020 aged 74 after a sudden heart attack and she said she poured her feelings of grief and gratitude into the book when she revisited it after his death.

“I have a chapter that is dedicated to my dad called ‘Daddy’,” she said.

“He used to have his own business, Big City, and manage bands in the 70s such as Racing Cars and Osibisa, and he was full of stories.

“Sadie’s father has a record shop – they’re very different characters, but they share the same warmth and love of music and a lot of the stories my dad shared with me are weaved into that chapter.

“Every time Piper manages to get into my house, he just loves jumping on to my dad’s tribute table in my office.

“There is a pile of letters on it that my dad got when he was at university in a little red box and he usually lands on it and coos and dances so I have taken it as a sign to start reading them and it has brought me comfort.”

Ms Blechner’s crowdfunder can be found at

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