Book People: Shona Innes
I’m a big fan of books for children which deal with the big issues for young people such as grief, marriage breakdown, disability, illness, allergies, friendship issues and adoption. Children need to see their lives reflected in literature – to know they are not alone and to know they are understood. Books which deal with ‘issues’ give children the vocubularly to help them articulate how they might be feeling and the strategies to deal with a tricky situation.
Author, Shona Innes, is a practicing child psychologist and her first two books in ‘The Big Hug’ series deal with grief in ‘Life is Like the Wind’ and navigatigating friendships in ‘Friendship is like a Seesaw’. The language in each of the books is spot on and the stories are engaging and appealing to young children. The illustrations by Irisz Agocs are full of movement and light and help to keep the heavy subject matter at an age appropriate level. I would highly recommend these books for every home, school and library collection as you just never ever know when they may be needed. ‘Life is Like the Wind’ is a beautiful story about grief and loss and has been much read in our household and I’ve just purchased a copy for two divine little girls in my life who very much need this big hug of a book.
Shona, I so enjoyed reading your responses to my ten questions – you are clearly passionate about what you do and I’m so pleased you are now sharing your work with a wider audience through your books. Thank you for joining me here today! Megan.
Click on title or cover images to add these books to your collection.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Shona Innes
1. Tell us about your latest book.
As a clinical and forensic psychologist, I see children who present with a range of things that are bothering them and I often see their parents, carers and teachers stressed by how to respond to them. The Big Hug books are designed to be shared with children during tough times or when they ask emotional questions like “what happens when you die?” or “how come she won’t play with me?” “Life is Like the Wind” covers issues related to grief and loss. “Friendship is Like a Seesaw” covers the ups and downs of friendships.
2. How did you get started as a writer?
As a psychologist, I have been writing notes, reports, Court reports and case studies for many years. In my practice, I write to the young people I see after each session to help them remember what we talked about and so they can share the ideas with their parents, carers or teachers.
One day at the practice, we had a call from a Nana who was worried about her granddaughter. The receptionist explained her concerns to me and I thought, “This Nan really needs a copy of the letter I just sent to a little boy yesterday”. We laughed about getting some made into pamphlets and one of the other psychologists overheard. She offered the services of her friend who was a freelance publisher and she gave me her friend’s card. I phoned the lovely friend and she was going to get some quotes for me on printing up some little booklets and also find me someone who could draw. I sent her the letters. She called back later saying she thought they were too special for booklets and asked if I’d mind if she took them to The Five Mile Press. I guess it was from that point on that I was “a writer”. I even started writing a blog!
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
My days are pretty full. I start with a 6am gym session, come home and have brekky with the family, drive the kids to school and open up the practice. I have appointments from 9 to 5 most days – some with children, some with grownups, some with young offenders and some with organisations. I also have other psychologists coming to see me for peer consultation and I help out the other psychologists at the practice. At lunch time I usually sit down for a cup of tea and a sandwich with the other psychologists at the practice. Sometimes the lunch break might include a catch up with our admin team and then into the afternoon shift with a couple more clients. I also have time on my calendar to write notes, letters and reports and answer emails or return phone calls to teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, paediatricians or worried parents.
After work, my children have swimming, homework, karate, friends to see or casual jobs to get to. Then it is dinner around the kitchen table, the dishes and then a snuggle in front of the TV before collapsing into bed – if I haven’t already nodded off during my couch cuddle.
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
I love my workspace. I have tried to fill it with special people and to provide them with all they need to do a great job. We have three different consulting rooms. The one I use most has comfy chairs (we can’t have them too comfy or people will go to sleep – they need to be goldilocks just right and it took me a long time to find them). There are lots of books, a dolls house and some other toys and games as well as some art work – some by one of our talented receptionists.
When I’m not in my consulting room, I hideaway in “Shona’s shed”. It’s a great space to get things done. It has a desk, a table with four chairs for meetings and my lap top. When he was fitting it out for me, my husband graffiti-ed the floor with our initials in a love heart. How cute was that?
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
For readers….You’re never too old to share a book out loud.
For writers….Know you’re stuff and write genuinely for your target reader.
6. Do you have a favourite book or character?
As a little girl I loved Ping the duck, Ferdinand the bull, and Mr Jeremy Fisher, but my family just wouldn’t be the same without the wisdom and adventures of the characters at Hogwarts. “Make love, not horcruxes!”
7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
I’d probably be a psychologist 🙂 , but if not that, then definitely a drummer in an all-girl rock band.
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or yur favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I love dark chocolate and chamomile tea and I stream Triple J or listen to London Grammar, Boy and Bear, John Butler or my man, Jack Johnson.
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
Friends have told me that my books “sound” like me and I’d like to think that the books are about, and for, all of the people I know.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
Oh, I think I have well and truly used up my supply of wishes. I have wished for many things for the world. I have wished for a world with no head lice. I have wished for a World with no plastic bottles floating in the oceans and, at the risk of sounding like a Miss World contestant, I have wished for World Peace. I think my biggest wish, though, would be for children to have a healthy childhood free of abuse or trauma.
Join child psychologist and author Shona Innes on a blog tour to promote her brand new series – Big Hug books. The unique series gently tackles the tricky questions that children sometimes ask. The first two books in the series are about the delicate balance of friendships, and the concept of death.
Read more about Shona here.
And find out more about the series here.
Monday 14th April
Writing Children’s Books with Robyn Opie Parnell
Tuesday 15th April
Wednesday 16th April
Children’s Books Daily
Thursday 17th April
Kids Book Review
Friday 18th April