Today I get to share a sweet book that will help young readers in troubling times.
Kerry Docherty is a founder and Chief Impact Officer of Faherty Brand, a lifestyle clothing brand centered on sustainability, craft, and community. Prior to starting Faherty, her background was in law, human rights, and mindfulness. She’s passionate about using creativity and community as a tool to cultivate joy. She lives in Brooklyn with her two kids, husband, and an orange tree. You can follow her on Instagram.
SOMEWHERE RIGHT NOW is her first book. It starts out with a little girl who is scared of a thunder storm. Her mom reminds her that she might feel better if she closes her eyes and pictures something beautiful that is happening in the world right now in nature. The story meanders its way through the entire family, where each character is experiencing a strong feeling: grief, disappointment, anxiety, etc. Each time the characters stop to do this same mindfulness exercise and the imagery they are imagining is stunning. This is a picture book that feels very appropriate for the times we are living. Kids’ emotions are running high and I honestly think this book will help. It’s a beautiful reminder to pause and think of something outside ourselves.
Me: You have a background in law, human rights, and mindfulness. You have also helped to start a clothing brand centered on sustainability, craft and community. What is it then that drew you to writing picture books?
Kerry: I’ve always been an avid writer since I was a kid. It’s probably the thing that brings me the most joy. My phone and computer are filled with hundreds of poems, essays, and reflections. So to finally have a forum to share these thoughts via a kids book has been such a gift.
Me: I love how you combine mindfulness and imagination with these specific characters in this family. What gave you the idea for this story?
Kerry: The idea for the book came during the start of COVID. My kids, husband, and I drove to my parents’ house in South Carolina for support. Most of the day, all of us were internalizing hard feelings. One of the things that kept me sane was visualizing that no matter what was happening in the confines of our home, or even collectively across the world, somewhere right then something beautiful was still unfolding, be it in nature or in front of our own eyes. And that was the crux of the book. I wanted it anchored in a family who had strong negative emotions. I wanted each character to have a moment to express those feelings, but also to support family members who were having other big feelings too.
Me: There are a lot of emotions in this story: fear, frustration, grief, and exhaustion. Dealing with strong emotions can be hard for anyone, but especially for children. I love how you give them a positive tool to help them do so. Is this an important topic to you personally? Why do you think children need to hear this?
Kerry: Teaching my kids (and my husband and myself!) to share feelings as they arise is something that’s so important for our mental health. When we normalize having feelings and then find language to articulate those feelings, we release them from the body and allow ourselves an opportunity to work through them. And then, even more importantly, we have a listener normalize those feelings. So often when we’re upset or sad, we don’t want the problem to be fixed; rather, we want someone to say “I understand.” Or “Me too.” Or “What’s helpful for me is ….” And this, to me, is mindfulness 101.
Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story?
Kerry: The biggest surprise has been more about how it’s been received. So many parents have reached out to me saying they cried reading it. I haven’t seen a ton of kids books where the parents get a moment to share their feelings. So when I crafted the story, I knew I wanted to include a dad that was sad and a mom that was exhausted. So many parents feel seen just reading those words in the book.
Me: Wow! I love that. This is your debut picture book (yay!) and it’s so incredibly well written. What does your writing process look like? What habits have you created for yourself?
Kerry: Thank you! I am an avid, impromptu, and haphazard writer, meaning I write all the time on my iPhone notes or journal or computer. It’s easy to leave things unfinished, but when a piece needs consideration, I give it my full attention. When I was writing this book, it was all I could think about for weeks. I’m also a part of the Brooklyn’s Writing Collective, which offers monthly classes and retreats. That has been wildly helpful to me to have a constant community that holds me accountable and offers feedback on my work.
Me: The illustrations by Suzie Mason are absolutely stunning, especially those gorgeous imaginary scenes. I love how there are hints for them in the kids’ toys and drawings all along the way. Were there any illustration surprises for you?
Kerry: I feel the same as you! I love the level of detail she put into each page with the placement of toys and drawings, and the family cat on almost every page. I also really loved the intimacy of the drawings. They were zoomed in so you really were transported into the scenes. I just adore her work.
Me: Any advice for other new picture book writers?
Kerry: Write, write, write. Write for your own joy more than for anyone else, but also share it with the world in whatever avenues you can!
Great advice. Thank you for stopping by my blog today Kerry.
Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance yet to check out this book, track it down. This is a story that relates to the pandemic without directly referencing it. That makes it feel so pertinent to today’s needs, but will perhaps lend it some timeless quality. That alone is worth studying as it’s hard to do all of that in one story! Trust me when I say that this is a story you won’t want to miss.