Author Interviews

Interview with Meg Eden Kuyatt

I am so happy to be hosting this author interview. This middle grade story in verse is heartfelt and I just want to gift it to all the middle grade readers in my life. Keep reading this interview with Meg Eden Kuyatt all about Selah, side characters, and books on our TBR.

About Good Different

Selah knows her rules for being normal.

She always, always sticks to them. This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she can calm down. So that she has to tear off her normal-person mask the second she gets home from school, and listen to her favorite pop song on repeat, trying to recharge. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans, but she knows how to hide it.

Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.

Selah’s friends pull away from her, her school threatens expulsion, and her comfortable, familiar world starts to crumble.

But as Selah starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn’t mean damaged. Can she get her school to understand that, too, before it’s too late?

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

Find Good Different on Goodreads, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

Author Interview

Let’s start off with Selah’s love of poetry, why did you pick that as her medium and what was your first impression of Selah when she came to you as a character?

I’m not sure it’s something I actively picked for her. Selah’s story just popped out in poems!  We come to poetry when prose is inadequate, when the content can only be in verse. There’s that saying for musical theater, that the characters sing when the emotion’s too strong for spoken word. They dance when the emotion’s too strong for music. Poetry’s like that. The emotion has to be so strong that it comes out organically in poetry. And my feelings about being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world, all the exhaustion and overstimulation and confusion of not being able to keep up, the feelings were too big for prose. I’ve also found that the verse helps readers who are different than Selah better understand an autistic perspective. The verse allows us to more viscerally feel what Selah’s feeling. And that feeling, that helps create empathy for readers. So my hope is that the verse helps especially neurotypical readers increase in empathy and understanding of different autistic experiences. 

My characters are always a part of me, so they always surprise me by discovering a part of myself I wasn’t aware of. For me, it was when Selah suddenly hit Addie—I didn’t expect that!

I want to talk about the side characters of Selah’s family mostly her mother and grandfather. How did these two characters develop over the course of drafting? 

Some advice I heard a while back is that the secondary characters should all support your protagonist’s journey and growth in some way. So once I identified what Selah wanted (what she thinks will solve her problems) vs what she actually NEEDEDE (the right way to solve her problems), I wanted characters to model what she should and shouldn’t do on her journey. For GOOD DIFFERENT, I did NOT want the message to be, “Being yourself means having no consideration for others and only focusing on what you want.” I wanted to show a balance of considering your own needs as well as those of others. So I thought about how characters like Mom and Pop could show different extremes, giving Selah examples for her to hopefully find a healthier balance between the two. 

I think her relationship with her grandfather is so special, can you talk more specifically about the type of relationship and conversations you knew you wanted to have in regards to his character in GOOD DIFFERENT?

I definitely wanted to channel some of my own “Pop” in the book! My Pop is very comfortable in his skin and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. He’s been a refreshing model in my life, and I wanted Selah to have her own Pop, too! 

For Selah and her mother there are some difficult conversations and some hurt here, can you talk about their relationship specifically and some of her comments?

So often, we mean well and want to love but say devastating things. We may, like Selah’s mom, give advice out of love manifested through fear of what might happen to Selah if she doesn’t adequately conform in a neurotypical society. I wanted to show how Mom loves Selah, but she hurts Selah in the process through her misbeliefs about what autism means and what Selah (as well as she) needs. People are rarely black and white, so it was important to me to show that messiness. 

An element you use a lot in GOOD DIFFERENT is the idea of a dragon, can you talk about this choice, what it means, and some of Selah’s passions?

It was unintentional at first. In the beginning of drafting, I knew Selah needed a special interest. Mine is Pokemon, but I wanted to give her something else. I arbitrarily chose dragons, probably because it was close to Pokemon and also still nerdy. But as I revised especially, I began to see how incredible of a metaphor dragons are for autism. As I revised a specific section with my editor, I hit the aha moment that Toothless needed accommodations, just like Selah! In How to Train Your Dragon the movie, the dragon Toothless needs a tail fin to fly. I realized in that moment, we autistic folks can fly—so high—we just sometimes need a tail fin to help us out. I feel like Luna Valentine, my illustrator, really nailed the spirit of this in how she captured the wings. They’re made up of all sorts of things, but largely tools Selah uses to help her navigate the world, as well as words that empower her or have new meaning. Words, and sensory tools, are like dragon wings that help Selah to fly! Selah might start out at the beginning feeling powerless, but by the end she sees that even though she’s not a dragon, she has her own tools that help her feel powerful like one. 

Her best friendship was another piece of GOOD DIFFERENT I enjoyed. With Selah’s friends, what did you want to explore and how did you choose which side characters to explore more? 

I wanted to show how you can have friends, but also feel lonely. How you can enjoy them, but also feel like an essential part of yourself is not being seen. I definitely have felt this way, particularly in fifth, sixth grade. I tried to recreate that through the friendships, and how Selah may feel that way, but friends like Noelle—and even Addie—rise up to the call of action, to help and do the right thing, and listen and understand, developing deeper friendships than Selah realized were possible with these people. 

Can you talk about the choice of the title? Was it always titled this?

So I learned through this journey that a title is actually quite a complicated thing! There are lots of people who need to agree on a title: your editor, agent, and the promotion team at the publishing house. My publisher had certain parameters they wanted the title to fit into based on what’s done well in the past. So we had to work together to find a title that captured the story well that we could all get behind. Huge shoutout and gratitude to my writer friend Kathy MacMillan, who suggested the title “Good Different” when I was getting stumped with the back and forths of finding the right fit. In the end, I’ve fallen in love with it and can’t imagine using any other title!

How has it been for you post release? Any experiences or feelings you didn’t expect? 

I didnt expect the continued engagement with the book, if I’m honest! My first book release made me really jaded to the whole process (but probably in a good way): that you write a thing you love, ther’es a lot of hype, and then it pretty quickly dies out. I had to remind myself this isn’t why we do this, this isn’t the thing to live for. That said, I’ve been really encouraged to see Good Different win awards, and continue to get readers and reviews nearly a year (!) after release. 

What is a book that you wanted to read in 2023 but didn’t get to?

Oh, too many! My TBR list is always longer than what’s possible to read. But already in 2024 I’ve gotten to pick up some of those books, so I’m grateful that even if I didn’t get to them then, I can keep reading as long as I’m able. 

The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh has been on my list, and especially seeing it win some awards recently, I particularly want to make time for that one soon.

Find Good Different on Goodreads, Amazon,, & Blackwells.

About the Author

Meg Eden Kuyatt teaches creative writing at colleges and writing centers. She is the author of the 2021 Towson Prize for Literature winning poetry collection Drowning in the Floating World (Press 53, 2020) and children’s novels, most recently Good Different, a JLG Gold Standard selection (Scholastic, 2023). Find her online at


Do you have a favorite middle grade novel in verse?

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