Bringing Design Closer with Gerry Scullion

Aoife Dooley 'Creative Sparks: The Journey from Inspiration to Award Winning Childrens Book Author'

John Carter
October 24, 2023
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Aoife Dooley 'Creative Sparks: The Journey from Inspiration to Award Winning Childrens Book Author'

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I'm delighted to have you with me for another cracking episode this time with Aoife Dooley, one of Ireland’s most talented illustrators. We connected several years ago at an event where we both were speaking at, and stayed in touch afterwards. Aoife’s created several beautiful children’s books over the last decade, many of which have been shortlisted for best children’s books each time in Ireland. We speak about Aoife’s journey of self-discovery a number of years ago that led Aoife finding out that they were autistic, and what this meant to her. We speak about Aoife’s creative process, and how they approach idea generation and generally find out about what makes this creative powerhouse tick.

Episode Transcript

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[00:00:00] I

[00:00:00] Aoife Dooley: was like, oh my god, I'm autistic. Like I knew, I knew before I went in to get my assessment, I was like, there's no way that I'm not because I literally ticked every single box. So much so that, uh, even still to this day, like, like years later, I think it's like five years now later, I'm still discovering stuff about myself.

[00:00:21] Gerry Scullion: Hello and welcome to This is 8cd. My name is Gerry Scullion and I'm a designer, educator and the host of This is 8cd based in the wonderful city of Dublin, Ireland. Now our goal here is to have conversations that inspire and help move the dial forward for organisations to become more human centred in their approach to solving complex business and societal problems.

[00:00:42] In this episode, I speak with... Aoife Dooley, one of Ireland's most talented illustrators. We connected several years ago at an event where we were both speaking out locally in Dublin and stayed in touch afterwards. Aoife has created several beautiful children's books over the last decade, many of which have been shortlisted [00:01:00] for best children's books each time in Ireland and probably internationally.

[00:01:04] We speak about Aoife's journey of self discovery a number of years ago that led to Aoife's finding out that they were autistic, what this meant to her, and we speak about Aoife's own creative process and how they approach idea generation and generally find out about what makes Aoife tick. Aoife is a powerhouse.

[00:01:21] It's got a wonderful store. For anyone who watches, uh, any of the videos that I've created recently on LinkedIn, you'll notice that there's a print in the background, bleeding deadly, which is a very famous Irish phrase and that was created by Aoife as well. So you can have a check out of that as well. If you really like what we're doing at This is HCD, just hit the follow or subscribe button wherever you're listening.

[00:01:42] If you really like what we're doing you can go one better by becoming a patron where you get an ad free stream and a podcast for as little as 1. 66 per month and you get a shout out as thanks. There's other plans there where you can get exclusive items too and literally all the money goes towards editing, hosting and maintaining our website which is now a repository [00:02:00] for human centered design goodness with over 250 episodes.

[00:02:03] It's a great episode, let's jump straight in. Aoife Dooley, I am delighted to welcome you to This is HCD. How's it going?

[00:02:11] Aoife Dooley: Good, good. Thanks for having me on.

[00:02:13] Gerry Scullion: No worries. We've been, uh, we, we first met, I was trying to remember there earlier on, about three or four years ago. Um, we did a talk together out on, Blanchardstown, which is a part of Dublin for anyone who's not familiar with Ireland, but, um, I'm delighted to have you here, like, as, as you can probably see from my orders over Christmas time, I'm a fan, and I was a fan of your work when I first met you, and I bought Blanchardstown, Bunch of stuff from my, my wife, um, over Christmas.

[00:02:43] Cause you've got a, you've got a fantastic store now at the moment. But anyway, we're going to come back to that. How do you describe what you do,

[00:02:50] Aoife Dooley: Aoife? I don't, I don't think I have one word to describe what I do, but I think the main thing that I do do is draw. So I'll be drawn, uh, describe it. I don't, [00:03:00] that's a hard question.

[00:03:01] Describe what you do.

[00:03:03] Gerry Scullion: Cause you do a few things. You're a standup

[00:03:04] Aoife Dooley: comedian as well. I mean, I do a few things. So like when people like ask me like, Oh, what'd you do? I can't ever like narrow it down because I like, it could change in the next couple of months or at the moment. Um, I'm not doing standup, but I want to get back into it.

[00:03:17] So I have been writing new material. So I do do standup as well. Um, I, I write and illustrate books, um, I illustrate for different campaigns for ad agencies. I kind of just do a mix of different things. Now I'm trying to think what else. Um, I wouldn't say I studied graphic design, but I wouldn't say that I do enter in graphic design where I've done like a few logos, but I think illustration is kind of like the main thing that I do out of everything now.

[00:03:45] It's

[00:03:45] Gerry Scullion: funny because I would say that you're an illustrator and a graphic artist, is how I would probably describe what you do, but you're, you're also very humble in how you describe yourself there because you're very [00:04:00] successful in what you do in terms of the output. Like you've written several books for the children market in the last couple of years.

[00:04:08] Where did this come from? Who are you writing for? You're writing, um, to your, to your child. Like self or, or are you writing for, for someone in specific? It's

[00:04:19] Aoife Dooley: funny because when I was a kid, I used to make my own books from notebooks or like those ring kind of like, you know, the fancier notebooks that used to be able to get in sance.

[00:04:28] I used to get kind of like notebooks like that and make my own books, whether it was like illustrations or collages or I used to just write my own stories and drawings to go with them. So it was kind of like, it wasn't when I was a kid, like, Oh, this is what I want to do. Because I didn't think that like someone like me could do something like that.

[00:04:44] So it was never like, Oh, this is what I'm going to do when I grow up. Because I never really thought about that way. So only as I got older and I kind of got into it. And the first few books I don't, the first books I don't wear and based around a character I created. in the area I'm from, so Coolock. [00:05:00] And, uh, there was the first book, How to Be Massive, and then the second book, How to Deal with Poxes on a Daily Basis.

[00:05:06] So they were kind of just humor books and I don't really know what the age group for that is. It's actually funny because I would have thought that it was more adults because it was very kind of like, you know, very kind of like rude and, you know, like the, you'd be reading it and you, let's just say you wouldn't be reading it on the bus or anything now, like, cause you'd be like, what the hell?

[00:05:25] But, I mean, I never forget, um, I don't know if you know, Lin Ruan, uh, she, she messaged me one day. Who's the, the, the politician? Yeah, yeah. She's like, Aoife, do you know, she's like, you know, my daughter and her friends. Or watching, uh, that animation, like a sleepover. And it kind of, it just made me realise, like, uh, because they were about, like, 12, maybe 13.

[00:05:44] I think they were probably 12. And it made me realise, it's like, you know, when you were a kid and you used to watch South Park, but you knew you Corson in it and all. So I realized that that age group was probably the one that was like most, uh, focused on it and like really enjoyed it. So [00:06:00] that's kind of where it started, but, um, that kind of, it was an animated TV series after the books came out.

[00:06:07] So yeah, it kind of, um, it kind of went all over the place that did, but it started out as a Facebook page initially. Um, and it was kind of almost like a blog with just illustrations. So I'd post every day and then there was an article written on it and the. I was going to say the New York Times, what are we talking about?

[00:06:23] The Irish Times. And basically, it just kind of blew up from there. It just kind of went places that I didn't ever anticipated to go at that time anyway, because I was still in college. I hadn't graduated yet. So, and then, so that's kind of how my book company started.

[00:06:40] Gerry Scullion: You said there a few minutes ago, like, I didn't think someone like me could ever write a book like this.

[00:06:45] Do you want to elaborate a little bit more on that, what you meant, um, by someone like me? Um,

[00:06:50] Aoife Dooley: well, I suppose when I was in school, I wasn't really kind of, um, at that age, like, I didn't have a lot of confidence and I didn't have a lot of confidence because a lot of the [00:07:00] adults around me, Didn't understand me and they just kind of put me down as being stupid or I was a bit slow because I couldn't keep up with the class so I think when you're younger you kind of internalize that because you're not like stupid you know what the adults are saying or what they're trying to say or like what other kids in your class are saying so I just never thought that I would be able to do something like that because I wasn't good at writing I wasn't good at spelling or I wasn't kind of do you know the kind of way um so to me that was like in a whole other world.

[00:07:29] Beyond mine that I thought that I'd never reach. So it kind of crazy, actually.

[00:07:35] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, it's true. I've heard that story from many people who, um, they were, you know, extremely talented in a certain area. And schooling just wasn't able to cope with it because you were playing outside of the lines, probably a little bit.

[00:07:50] And metaphorically speaking as well, when you're an illustrator. So what do you feel the fact that Or did, did the fact that [00:08:00] schooling wasn't able to direct you actually contributed to your success? Did it give a fire inside you to, to prove them wrong? How did you handle that?

[00:08:10] Aoife Dooley: No, it's, it's really funny.

[00:08:12] So it wasn't to prove, wasn't to prove my school wrong or my teachers wrong. I don't think that fire actually lit up inside. Like I always had those talents there where I love to draw, where I love to write and they were always there. And I, I done like three years in Cologne and I was kind of halfway through my degree in DIT at the time.

[00:08:35] I think it's called TU Dublin now, but it's a, it was DIT when I was there. And I was about halfway through, I was in my second, no I was in my third year I think it was, and, or second year, and I got in on advanced entry, and I kind of was just settling in, and my mom had died suddenly while I was in college.

[00:08:53] And that was probably one of the most horrific things that ever happened to me, and I think that's what actually lit the fire underneath me, because [00:09:00] I didn't want to grieve, I didn't want to know about it. I just jumped into my work and that's when everything kind of really started happening. So I think that's actually what did it, which is, yeah,

[00:09:11] Gerry Scullion: sorry to hear about what year was that?

[00:09:13] That

[00:09:13] Aoife Dooley: was 10 years ago. That was 2013.

[00:09:16] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. Yeah. 2013. You've been extremely busy then for 10 years because, you know, in, in my notes here, I've mentioned. books and shop and prints and then you just casually mentioned a TV series in there as well. And you've also been nominated for Children's Book of the Year, which is by Unpost, which is a national awards for the best books, um, effectively produced by Irish writers and Irish authors.

[00:09:45] So, There's a level of humility coming through in all of your work. Um, where does this natural humility come through, and also the comedian aspect? Uh, I can hear that there's an overlap [00:10:00] in many areas between funny and illustration. Where's all this coming from?

[00:10:05] Aoife Dooley: I think the overlap, like, yeah, like, whatever I do, there has to be kind of something funny involved in my illustration.

[00:10:11] I think that's always been a thing. But um, I don't know where it comes from. I think it's, um, I think it's probably a coping thing because I always tried to cope in school by being funny. So I think that kind of, I think that's where that kind of side comes from. Um, then also I think the, then the illustration is like kind of, it's soothing for me.

[00:10:32] So when I put the two together, they're kind of like, it's like the ultimate like, um, relaxation time. I think it's just kind of, yeah. If that makes sense.

[00:10:40] Gerry Scullion: Yeah. Can we talk about your process a little bit? Um, so, you're writing comedy at the moment. Does the comedy feed the illustration or does the illustration feed the comedy?

[00:10:52] Do the two go hand in hand or are they separate?

[00:10:54] Aoife Dooley: It really depends. To be honest with you, it could be just something that happens in my life that is funny [00:11:00] and I can be like, right, I can definitely come up with like, you know, A whole 10 minute spot just on this thing alone, like, because it's so ridiculous or else, um, I could be thinking of something for a specific day, like, it could be Paddy's day, like, like, um, I, I done this illustration a couple of years ago.

[00:11:16] It was like a carousel illustration on, um, Instagram and it was like, basically like a snake. And you just kind of scroll to the end and when you get to the end you see the snake kind of like looking and it's like literally St. Paddy's stand there and he's just like, uh, but he's like this with his two fingers up and you have to scroll to the end.

[00:11:33] So I kind of, I don't know where it comes from. I kind of just think about, well, where is it going to go? Where is it going to live? What's, you know, what are people going to like, how are people going to interact with it? Because I like people to interact with my stuff as well because I like it to be fun like that.

[00:11:47] Because I, I enjoyed stuff like that growing up, like, so I liked, um, you know, like, Where's Wally? And I loved all those books where you were interacting when they're trying to find something or do something. So. I kind of like to do that in my own

[00:11:59] Gerry Scullion: work as [00:12:00] well. But is there, is there, do you have the idea, is it fully formed in your mind when you sit down or walk me through that explorative stage?

[00:12:08] Aoife Dooley: Oh, okay, no, it's more like, it's sort of... Give me an example as well if you can because... Okay, okay, so I could, I could literally be, I could literally be sitting down watching TV and I'm not working at all. And I'll literally, I'll be sitting there beside Carol, who's my partner, and I'll literally go, Oh, and he's like, well, and I was like, I have to go and I'll literally go and I'll write, I'll have this idea and I'll write it down and I'll, I'll come up with something.

[00:12:29] I could be just sitting here. Like yesterday, I can't really tell you this now because I don't want it in the podcast because it's actually a very, very fresh idea, which I think is good, but I'll be sitting there and I'll be like, Oh yeah, that's a good idea. And I'll record myself, the idea, either record it.

[00:12:44] So I'm saying it or else I'll write it down. But I think when I record it. I see it on my phone, so I'm more inclined to actually work on that idea rather than writing a notebook. But it could be I just, I'm just sitting there, like, um, but then also it could be inspired by [00:13:00] certain things. Like, so, Yaron Akita was inspired of the area I'm from, the people I know.

[00:13:05] family, friends. So that was kind of, you know, all based around like people I knew and, and what life was like in Killock. So that was kind of, do you know what I mean? Yeah. I'm trying to think now, um, but sometimes it just kind of, it will just kind of pop into my head and I'll have to stop whatever I'm doing.

[00:13:22] It doesn't matter if I'm having a lunch or I'm gone. Cause I thought, yeah, it's like a fire or like a spark or you're like, well, I have to work on that straight away. But

[00:13:30] Gerry Scullion: the experimental piece of, you might start down to write it or you might start to draw it. Um, what does that look like in terms of your, your creative process?

[00:13:39] Does it, does it happen? I suppose, how long is a piece of string? Um, would it typically happen where you have an idea and you sketch it out? Walk me through what actual behaviors you're doing to, to sort of flesh out.

[00:13:53] Aoife Dooley: I'd get the idea in my head. And then I, I'd get like either my tablet and I, [00:14:00] you know, or I'd work on my laptop and I'd start kind of doing like a rough sketch of like what I'm working on.

[00:14:06] If it's for social media, like obviously I'll work it up into that size, like that kind of thing, make sure everything's set, ready to go. And I'll just spend like a couple of like, you know, I'll spend a couple of hours like drawing. Yeah. And that doesn't mean that it's the finished piece. It could be just like roughly what I want it to look like and then I start it.

[00:14:23] But then sometimes if I'm really excited about something, I will just jump straight in right away and do the finished piece. Because sometimes I can actually. See it like, like really clearly in my head and I'm like, okay, it's like I'm almost copying the image from my head onto the paper then so yeah, that's cool when that happens, doesn't happen all the time, but when it's a really strong idea, I find it works better.

[00:14:44] Gerry Scullion: It sounds like the musical process of songwriting sounds very similar and I know your partner, Carl, we've actually met many times over the years, um, which is just pure coincidence, folks. Carl emailed me one day and I'm like, are you the same [00:15:00] Carl? Oh, my God, I didn't know you guys were together. That's amazing.

[00:15:03] Um, you know, Carl probably, you know, still writes. I see there's a guitar in the background there as well. So there's probably a little bit of a similar process between the way Carl approaches things and the way you approach things. So is there a crossover between music? How has Carl influenced you in your process?

[00:15:21] I actually think

[00:15:23] Aoife Dooley: that's a good one. Well, I guess. Well, funny that you say this, right? I actually think that I am. I actually think that the music. Helped me to, to write. I think that's where I really for, like I didn't really. Start writing loads and loads of stories when I was younger, that kind of came, I'd say, I did write a few stories, but the most, the thing that I was writing the most was lyrics and music, because I used to play music as well, and uh, I used to play guitar, I can still play, and Carl, I freaked Carl out actually, about a year or two ago, I said to him, I said, [00:16:00] I hadn't played in 14 years, hadn't picked up a guitar, and I was like, oh, I can tune that by ear.

[00:16:04] And he was like, what? Because he was using a tuner. And I was like, yeah. And I took up the guitar and I tuned it nearly perfectly after 14 years. And he was like, what the hell? Because that was at my, like, when I was very young, music was my life. I wanted to be a rock star. That's all I wanted to be. So that's kind of, yeah.

[00:16:20] But I think it really helped me to write and be creative in that way as well, because I had no interest really. In writing, and I think that kind of led me into writing stories then. And also my grand uncle as well was very supportive. My grand uncle, he was like, geez, he must be pushing 90 now. Yeah. He literally wrote all these crazy stories.

[00:16:41] Like he, he writes and he, he works on poems and stuff like that as well. But he wrote these crazy stories of like me and him, like when I was a kid and like we'd go on these adventures together as all like talking animals and all. So I think there's that part of it as well. So I was around creative people I think as well, like who kind of [00:17:00] seen that that's what I was interested in and supported that.

[00:17:04] Because I don't think I was very great at anything else, to be honest with you. Yeah. Not good at maths. It's

[00:17:09] Gerry Scullion: funny, like, you know, you mentioned schooling and you mentioned Colois de Dulig there, which is, um, on the north side of Dublin. It's, uh, it's an art college for, for people, um, to go in. Believe it or not become artists and become illustrators and graphic designers and stuff.

[00:17:24] Um, when you were in school, you, you said you weren't very, um, academically strong as probably, I don't know how you phrase it that way. And then you get into collage to do like, but what you're doing now at the moment is quite close to entrepreneurialism. So you're doing an awful lot of stuff, you've got an awful lot of, um, business ideas, your store up there, um, is, has got some wonderful stuff up there, I'll throw a link to that one in the show notes, folks.

[00:17:51] How do you feel, um, even Colás de Dulig sort of supported you in the journey to, to become where you're [00:18:00] at now, like, and what would you like to be able to do and go back and change and fix it if there was problems there that you could see? In

[00:18:06] Aoife Dooley: Colás de Dulig? Yeah. Um, also I, I loved it there. And even still now, I keep in touch with some of the lecturers and they're still supportive.

[00:18:15] Same as D. I. T. Um, I in, in both courses, though, I think in my degree and my diploma, I think that, um, without getting anyone in trouble, I'm just going to be very vague. I'm definitely not coming from that angle. I'm just like... I think some people are very good at their job. And they want to teach and they, they, you know, they want to show you the way, but they also want you to find your own way.

[00:18:39] And I think there's just people who are just lazy, who just want to get paid. And there were some people who I, I really learned a lot from, and there was others who I learned nothing from and I taught myself. Or without giving any names, like I'm being vague about it, so I think, I think they could do with a rejig of some of the lectures in, in, [00:19:00] in both DIT and Colossal Duel, like a redo because, I think everywhere, I think it's so, like what reminded me of Colossal, like in Colossal Duel, like some of the classes that we've done.

[00:19:10] Really reminded me of secondary school and that's okay if you're doing like, um, a portfolio course or something like that. So you want to try a bit of everything, but for some of the classes that we had for a graphic design in, in DIT, as I, in class to do like, just didn't make sense to me. I, I changed it like there, you know, like, um, there was a class where we were drawn acorns.

[00:19:34] Did you know what I mean? Like, like that, I think maybe could potentially be updated now because, you know, it's a, it's a different world, that kind of thing. I think they're the main things. I think it's the same with most colleges though.

[00:19:44] Gerry Scullion: It's the same in most places and I'm hearing that internationally as well.

[00:19:47] Like, so, but in terms of. You're, um, you're very popular on Instagram. You, you learned how to market yourself. You've learned how to launch a business, you know, using the web [00:20:00] to, to launch your business. We don't have a physical store. Learning about how to set up shipping, all of these different things that are required to be successful.

[00:20:09] So it's very, like you're a self starter. Um, we, we've learned that like, you know, the death of your mum probably sort of lit a fire and, you know, Led you to have more confidence and so forth. But in terms of those skills, where did you learn them? Was there something else or did you learn on the job?

[00:20:27] Aoife Dooley: Um, what skills specifically now?

[00:20:29] Like the

[00:20:30] Gerry Scullion: marketing and the sales and setting the website up. They're all things.

[00:20:36] Aoife Dooley: It does kind of. I think everything, it just kind of happened naturally in a way, like, because there was no kind of secret to it. Like, so when I was in DIT, I left college and after like, uh, I graduated and then everyone was getting kind of like, you know, graphic design, uh, internships or advertising internships.

[00:20:54] And I was getting no internships because I wanted to be an illustrator and I was so headstrong on it. I'm like, Oh, I could see [00:21:00] my Nana. Like she was squirming going, would you not get a job now? A real job, like she was sweating, like thinking like, what are you doing with your life, like kind of thing. And then before I even graduated, I got my first two book deal.

[00:21:12] So that kind of gave me the confidence to continue on that. With posting online, um, it was really just like for fun. It was really just for fun. And I think I got like so addicted to like people sharing my stuff and it going viral, like it really, um. It really was like a drug in a way and a really big distraction after my mom, so I think I really got like, um, so, like, I was like the way TikTokers are today, where they're posting four videos a day and getting the content out, and while it was great at the time for like, you know, that kickstart, Um, it was very draining as well though, because you're consistent, you have to, you have to keep posting all the time to keep your audience interested and this kind of thing.

[00:21:57] And it's so funny because I [00:22:00] see that in other people who I'd follow now. And whether it's illustrators or like people doing different things, I can see that the quality of the work that they do isn't good because they're actually just rushing to get it online to get the likes and to get the shares so they can get the follow up.

[00:22:15] And it's interesting because, um, I look back on some of my stuff now and go, Oh Jesus, I wish that I got it, you know, that kind of way. So I don't think I knew really what I was doing. I was just doing it to distract myself and I kind of fell into it. It really helped me with my skills now with like marketing, whether it's like the shop or like my book and kind of just posting about certain things, like it kind of, it kind of gave me confidence, more confidence, I think, to do that, which was a great thing, I think.

[00:22:41] But you see, you wouldn't catch me posting on TikTok four times a day. I'd put an awful lot of stress on that way, I'm sorry, like, I don't care if I've got two million followers, like, it's just, I'd rather spend my time being creative, I think. You

[00:22:52] Gerry Scullion: definitely have, you have a huge following. Okay, so, it's almost like you built the following and then you built the entrepreneurialism off the back of it.

[00:22:59] [00:23:00] Um, how did you learn this? Like, obviously, you're, you're very charismatic. Okay, people can hear that, like, you know, you've, you're able to speak, you're able to talk. But it seems like you know who you are. Okay, this, this, and I don't know if it's a north side thing, I'm going to say the north side thing because I'm on the north side and you know, it seems like, you know, you are, you're not going to, um, kind of pander to anyone else.

[00:23:24] You've got your own mission and you're, you're living by this purpose. Um, where does that come from in terms of being so, so true to yourself? Uh, and we want to talk a little bit more around, uh, the discovery of Europe. Thank you. Autism in a minute, Aoife, we'll cut this little bit out, me and my little segue, but where does this come from?

[00:23:43] This, this sort of sense of, uh, you know, identity, you know who you are, you know what you

[00:23:49] Aoife Dooley: are. It's, it's funny because for a long time, I really didn't. So it's kind of like, it's been kind of a, um, like a journey almost to kind of [00:24:00] figure out who I am, like, but, um. It's kind of a funny one. I wouldn't have said now that I have a full kind of idea.

[00:24:07] Maybe it's just the way I talk or something to people. They have that impression of me. But, um, I actually would, um, be the opposite, I think. Like, where, like, I'm still kind of, I'm still kind of finding out. Who I am. Maybe that's more on a personal level, but illustration wise and stuff, I've definitely figured out my style and, you know, that kind of stuff.

[00:24:28] And it's funny because I wear all black most of the time. I'm like, I'm still a gut. I'm still the way I was when I was 15. My work is so colourful. So it's kind of like, I know what I want in my work, but eh. And I think I, I like working with two to three colors as well. Like that's kind of like, I like the way things pop.

[00:24:45] So it's kind of, I have that kind of part figured out, but like, I

[00:24:48] Gerry Scullion: guess that's kind of what I'm referring to. Like you can see

[00:24:51] Aoife Dooley: where they are. I think the personal comes in with that though as well, because I think when you're doing well personally, and you have your shit together personally, everything else [00:25:00] kind of falls into place in a way as well.

[00:25:01] And I feel like that's how. Um, Frankie's world kind of worked out, like I've never worked on a graphic novel before in my life. That was so scary. Like, I think it worked well because at, by that stage, I kind of felt like, no, I'm confident in myself now. Like I know who I am and this kind of thing. So it's funny how that can affect your creative process as well in

[00:25:21] Gerry Scullion: your work.

[00:25:22] Yeah. Your latest book at the moment is called finding your voice. Um, talk to me a little bit more around the origins of this.

[00:25:30] Aoife Dooley: So, Finding Your Voice is, or Finding My Voice is the sequel to Frankie's World, which is a graphic novel based on, um, an 11 year old girl who feels a bit different to everyone else in her class, convinced that she's an alien, um, an

[00:25:50] alien too, and that he might have the answers. So, finding my voice is kind of, um, the sequel where she's starting secondary school. And, um, all this kind of came [00:26:00] from, um, because a couple of years ago, I'm, I'm 30, I'm going 32 now in April. And when I was 27, I found out that I have ASD, so it's like Autism Spectrum Disorder.

[00:26:11] And that was, I'd like to say it was a shock. Because, well, it was a shock because I'd never thought about it before. Because in my head, I just thought autism was like, Oh, that's young boys. And, you know, they behave this way or, you know, that kind of way. I almost have an image in my head of what autism was, but I didn't know fully what it was.

[00:26:28] Yeah. So, um, that was kind of interesting because I always felt like there was something, but I just never knew what it was because obviously how could I like, you know, I'm not a scientist or like a doctor. So I was never able to kind of pinpoint. And it was only for a friend said it to me. And, know, you're kind of like me.

[00:26:47] And I was like, yeah, we are really like, are we? And he's like, I'm autistic. And he goes, I think you are too. And I literally turned around and was like, f off. I'm not autistic. I know by now I'm a 27 year old woman. What are you talking about? And yeah, lo and behold, it was. How [00:27:00] did you

[00:27:01] Gerry Scullion: go through that? Walk me through that process, like, you know, from having a coffee to...

[00:27:04] Aoife Dooley: Well, he had said it to me initially and I wasn't thinking too much about it because at that point I still knew nothing about autism. And he goes, you should look into it. So I did. I looked into it and... I watched a documentary on channel four. It was called, uh, something like, uh, so you think you're autistic.

[00:27:20] And I actually meant to, I met the two presenters of that show at a conference a couple of years later then. So that was kind of cool. But they had this documentary about like, it was women on the spectrum. And then there was, um, there was other like YouTube. videos I watched where it was like, um, autistic YouTubers where they were like going through like, you know, well, this is what it was like for me in school and blah blah blah blah and It just kind of got to the stage where I was like, oh my god I'm autistic like I knew I knew before I went in to get my assessment I was like, there's no way that i'm not because I literally ticked every single box so much so that uh, Even even still to this day like like years later.

[00:27:59] I think [00:28:00] it's like five years now later I'm still discovering stuff about myself. I, I gave a panel talk there last year and I, I think it was, it was a NCI and DCU and they were promoting this, um, this, uh, documentary that was, uh, made in Iceland. I'll get the name of it, the documentary for you now, I'll send it to you, but it's basically, it was about all autistic women in Iceland.

[00:28:24] And there was a mother talking about her daughter and she was talking about like how her daughter kept going to the toilet when she was in primary school. She kept going into the bathroom all the time. She kept needing to go to the bathroom all the time. And I was like, Oh, and then she was like, and we had to take her to hospital because we didn't actually know.

[00:28:39] We thought there was something wrong with her kidney or bladder. And I was like, Oh, and then she was like, it was actually just so she could get her own space. So I used to do the exact same thing. I actually had to go to temple street hospital to get like down there checked because I was going to the bathroom so much.

[00:28:55] I didn't know why I was doing that, but I was going to get away from the noise. And it's only [00:29:00] kind of now that I can kind of go, ah, that's kind of what it's. So sometimes it's other people's experience and them sharing of being so open that kind of helps you to understand yourself better too. Especially with this stuff, because there's so little.

[00:29:11] Known about it, I think, for women on the spectrum. Yeah. But, um, it's really interesting though, because it kind of, it was such a relief to find out, and made so much sense, um, to find out, because it just made sense of everything I do in my life, and kind of, for things, not to be hard on myself, but also equally, That it's okay to have a fridge full of, um, those, uh, pepperoni pizzas, like it's okay to have that, like, you know.

[00:29:34] So, it kind of, like, you know, it's okay to play Pokemon, it's okay to, like, all these things that I do that I was like, Jeez, I'm not telling anyone I do any of these things. So, it kind of helped me to be myself. And, no, I don't give a fuck, like, I don't care what people think, I am. And I think if I hadn't of got that diagnosis and really kind of...

[00:29:54] figure that out. I think that, um, I, yeah, I, I think that I don't know if I'd be here because I [00:30:00] think a lot of people, um, it's hard being autistic and talking to people are nice, but then some people look at you like you have two heads and you have to say something wrong and all. So you do kind of go in on yourself as well sometimes.

[00:30:12] So it's good to know that now. Yeah. And, uh, to understand myself, it's like, I have a toolkit now. Like, that's specifically for me, that I can understand myself where I didn't have that before. So, I'd say

[00:30:25] Gerry Scullion: that's a great way to explain it. And you've done an awful lot of work. You're speaking about, um, your diagnosis.

[00:30:29] I know when we did that talk together, um, it was a really, uh, kind of moving part where you were talking about what this, Looked like and what it felt like, and you were very transparent. Is that something that's really important to you to kind of shine a light on? Um, you know, getting diagnosed.

[00:30:46] Aoife Dooley: Absolutely. And, uh, I get messages every day from people. People are now people that don't come. I think I am. I want to look into it. And I think it is important for everybody. Like if they're. struggling with their mental health to kind of like, [00:31:00] and I think it's so funny. I've talked to so many people that I find this really interesting.

[00:31:04] And I was the same as well. Like, oh, when I go to my doctor, I would have been like, uh, struggling with depression and she would have been like, no, no, we're going to put you on antidepressants. And I was like, no, no, no, no. And I didn't take them because I knew deep down that it was, there was something else alongside of that.

[00:31:20] There was something causing my depression. That like just needed to be seen. Like I just knew I had a feeling and you'd be surprised how many people say that to me now. Who would say that go like they're kind of a bit like oh, I don't know if that's 100 percent what it is kind of thing. Yeah, I think it's very important to know and understand because it can really help you in your life just just even for understanding yourself because a lot of people are very hard on themselves as well like in certain situations and if they can't like my family would have been very hard on me now like to be like, you know, you have to do this, you have to achieve this, you have to And that puts so much pressure on me, and I think, like, you know, we all have [00:32:00] our own limits, do you know what I mean?

[00:32:01] I think it's good to know what they are, so you're not kind of, it's alright to push it past the limit, but like, every now and again, like, you know, you don't want to destroy yourself, and I find that's what happens to a lot of people. They're so used to kind of conforming to a society that's like almost not made for them, so they're just exhausted, so it's, it's, yeah, I think it's very important that if you do, that you're neurodivergent in any way to look into it and Cause it, it, it really is like finding out was a relief for me, but it was the counselling after that really, really helped.

[00:32:31] Transformative. Yeah. Very transformative. I have to say. I don't recognize myself now from five years ago. Have you ever, have you seen pictures of me five years ago? No, no. Yeah, I, I had a probably about three, four stone on me five years ago. I'm a completely different, oh, I'll, I look, lemme see if I can find a picture.

[00:32:51] There's a gas picture of me online now. Now I'm giving me secrets away, but there's a gas picture of me online and I love whipping it up because, eh, I look like someone's 40 year old math and [00:33:00] I'm only 23. And every time I show anyone the picture, they're always like, that's you. I'm like, yep. But I was, I was really, so it really shows, um, let me see if I can find it now.

[00:33:10] Obviously I can't share the screen, but I'll find it to you after, but very good. It's so, yeah, so I can see a huge difference, um, in myself physically and mentally.

[00:33:19] Gerry Scullion: Yeah, that's fantastic Aoife. Look. We're, we're coming towards the end of the episode. Um, if people want to reach out to you, what's the best way for them to do that?

[00:33:28] I know I'm going to put a link to your Instagram anyway, because it's, it's beautiful to, to drop in and see what you're up to. I, I check in once a week to see where you're at, but what other platforms are

[00:33:37] Aoife Dooley: you on? Um, I'm on Twitter as well. Um, I'm on TikTok. I do wanna start posting more, but not four times, four times a day.

[00:33:44] Probably few, once a week. Um, but I'm, I'm gonna be posting up, uh, doing up my house on there, so I'd stuff, so, but, uh, Instagram, um, Twitter and LinkedIn would probably the best I am on LinkedIn, but eh, I am very bad at it. [00:34:00] Yeah. Very bad. I have to use it more.

[00:34:02] Gerry Scullion: Okay. Very well. We'll throw all those links into the show notes.

[00:34:05] We'll put a link to your store as well for people to go and check out all your work. Um, and also best of luck with the book. It's coming out in April. Is that right? That's right, yeah. Deadly. Well, I'm going to be first in line to get a copy of that. It's going to sit proudly on my shelf here. Aoife. Well, thanks, Gerry.

[00:34:26] There you go, folks. I hope you enjoyed that episode. And if you enjoyed it and want to listen to more, why not visit thisishcd. com where you can learn more about what we're up to and also explore our courses whilst you're there. Thanks again for listening.

John Carter
Tech Vlogger & YouTuber

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