Able2Do Anything: Achievements

Disabled author wins record-breaking book deal

Frances Ryan

A disabled author has scooped a six figure deal after one of the largest publishing companies in the world won a bid to print her new book.

Author, broadcaster and journalist Frances Ryan’s Who Wants Normal? The Disabled Girl’s Guide to Life will be published by Penguin Random House’s Fig Tree imprint after they won the rights in a nine-publisher auction.

The deal is said to be one of the most expensive for a disabled autor in the UK.

Ryan, who writes for The Guardian, told the paper interest around the book shows publishers are “coming to understand that there’s a huge audience for stories by and about people who aren’t white, middle class or non-disabled.

She added: “I think that really reflects how titles about disability are finally being recognised as mainstream and vital.”

Helen Garnons-Williams, publishing director of Fig Tree, said Who Wants Normal? is an “electrifying mix of memoir, handbook, celebration and call to action, which will offer support, inspiration and a sense of solidarity to the many, many women with disabilities and long-term health issues”.

The book includes Ryan’s personal perspective living with a disability and interviews with the likes of Selma Blair, Jamela Jamil, Ferne Cotton and plenty more discussing their experiences of physical disabilities and mental health.

Ryan also explores six categories, including body image, education and relationships.

She said:  “Disabled women in culture are often still either made invisible or two-dimensional: where life is portrayed as miserable with low expectations or you’re told to ‘overcome’ it without acknowledging it’s part of you.

“I wanted to put together a book that would challenge these assumptions and show what it is to be a young woman with a disability or mental or physical health condition today: the joy, accomplishments and hurdles.”

Ryan’s first book, Crippled, was shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing in 2020.

Who Wants Normal? The Disabled Girl’s Guide to Life will be published in Spring 2025.

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