Byron Dunbar is a horror author from Toronto, Ontario, diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder. “While I function well now, it’s been a struggle,” Dunbar says. “This is the case for many in the Asperger’s community. We think and behave differently and must work harder to do what seems easy to most. My progress has been helped along by the stories I love. To me, stories are a way of passing along life lessons. When they have happy endings, they give us hope. When they have bittersweet endings, they prepare us for harsh realities. Stories are also a source of solace, helping us feel understood. Therefore, I am driven to help others through story, as I have been helped.
“As the stories that had the earliest effect on me were in animation, I worked hard until I was accepted into the Sheridan College Animation Program. I was hired at Nelvana upon graduation, and since then, advanced into higher roles. Here, I’ve learned that screenwriters are the true storytellers in animation, and shifted my focus to that. I optioned a live action short film idea to Rob Maxson at Ink Well Films in Texas and was hired by David Hill (a Canadian animator now working at Illumination Studios) to write eight screenplays for a currently unproduced show.
“People with Asperger’s not only have unique experiences, but a unique way of seeing the world. While any project I write comes from a unique perspective, it is not limited to my own experiences. On a surface level, I rarely have much in common with the characters or authors of the stories I love. This is because, at their best, stories are a universalizing experience. They bring us together because they touch on universal feelings. That is what I want to do as a writer for animation: using my experiences to speak to what is universally human in us all, regardless of age, ethnicity, or anything else.”