Anna Lina Litz

Embroidering words

How Gro Dahle writes childrens' books differently

Gro Dahle (*1962) is an author well-known in her home country Norway for publishing over sixty books, most of them poetry collections and children's books. Her work has received several literary prizes, including the national children's book prize in 2003 for the book Sinna Man ('Angryman') which delicately describes the difficult topic of a young child witnessing domestic violence and has been translated in multiple languages. 

Dahle is a role model for neurodivergent creatives since she openly identifies as autistic, and attributes her unique writing style and her productivity over the years to being on the spectrum. 


Gro Dahle - Photo by Alf Øystein Støtvig found on . 


In an interview on the Norwegian website Utdanningsnyt ('education news'), Gro Dahle shared that she found out she is autistic in the process of her daughter receiving an autism diagnosis as well. She stated that finding out about autism made her life click into place and has helped her cope better. “I read everything I could find“, she said, “I became an expert on the subject, and realized through what I read that having AS is not a fault or a deficiency, a failing or a handicap or a disease or weakness, but it is just my neurology, my neurochemical way of being me. When this dawned on me, I was very happy!“

'I would much rather do this interview via email'

Dahle also shared her difficulties with navigating social situations, which she find demanding and draining. She even admitted that she would have much rather conducted the interview via email than in person. While she might appear at ease and even outgoing in social situation, this doesn’t come naturally: “I work hard to understand and react correctly. Still, I misunderstand and am misunderstood, say things wrong, behave conspicuously, regret it afterwards, spend a week digesting and resenting myself“, she said. This kind of feeling is also reflected (quite beautifully) in her writing: 

Goodnight to all who regret what they have done 

and what they have said 

and what they have not done or said, 

to all who lie mending, tying knots on their thoughts, 

embroidering on their words, patching and sewing and spinning.

(Gro Dahle, excerpt from the poetry collection "Good night, night")

'It is because of my autism that I write the way I do'

Dahle refers to positive aspects of her autism when describing her writing process. “It is because of my autism that I write - and that I write the way I do, that I write so well it is published.“ Her autism not only allows her to hyper-focus on her work and be the prolific writer she is, her different way of thinking also sets her writing apart in other ways:

'I have a language that I use in a different way than usual, because I am different and I am in the world in a different way, think differently, feel differently, sense differently, perceive differently, it is a consistent difference that makes my literary voice original and new, which thus also becomes linguistically and textually interesting.'


Article in Utdanningsnytt: Gro Dahle - Not everyone needs friends 

Gro Dahle's Wikipedia page