If you have been visiting the GM website for a while, it’s no secret that I have a passion for interviewing people. I find other people’s stories so fascinating. Don’t you? As an author myself, I absolutely love having the opportunity to interview other authors and in this week’s blog, I had the pleasure of talking to fellow, Kent based author Alex Brooks.
Alex approached me on social media to see how we could celebrate each other’s books and I was so delighted when she asked! As a mum of three, Alex has used her parenting knowledge to tackle some really important topics in a fun, snappy and imaginative way. Alex has created a beautiful bedtime story for children aged 3-5 with a twist on tackling emotional and mental health issues. This couldn’t be a more relevant topic of conversation to have with children, particularly post pandemic. So, let’s dive into the muddy waters of the crocodile creek to see what inspired Alex to write this lovely book.
Alex, please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’m a mum of 3, from Tunbridge Wells, to a ‘spirited’ 4-year-old and lively 2-year-old twins. I was a London firefighter for 5 years; however, I now run a property company and have just published my first children’s book: Why, oh why, am I a crocodile?
What was the inspiration that made you want to write a book?
I’ve been writing children’s books for about 15 years. I worked in childcare in my late teens and it gave me a good insight into a child’s weird and wonderful imagination.
When I was a firefighter, any downtime at the station (while the lads were pumping iron, drinking protein shakes) was spent, in a world of my own, making up bizarre children’s stories.
It is only now that I have found the time to turn Why, oh why, am I a crocodile? into a book. And it gives me no greater pleasure than reading it to my own children.
What made you want to focus you book on supporting children on adopting a positive body image?
I find it heartbreaking that children are so concerned with their image and sadly this is happening at a younger and younger age. Children/young people are so easily influenced and they compare themselves to people they see on social media, people that they deem to be ‘perfect’; It’s not real life.
In the book, Crocodile wanders around watching beautiful animals, in awe. Little does she know, they are equally as unhappy with their appearance.
I hope the book can be used as a tool for adults to start a conversation on self-image with children.
Tell us a little about your journey from having an idea to getting to publication day?
I’ve had the idea for Why, oh why, am I a crocodile? For a long time however finding an illustrator that was a good fit for the book was always tough. When Hannah said she’d be interested in illustrating the book, I knew I had to take the leap.
I spent many evenings with my husband, Bob (my biggest critique), trying to perfect the book. With a combination of tiredness (3 children under 4), a difference in opinion and perhaps a tad too much wine, it wasn’t smooth sailing! We are both, however, so very proud of the book now.
How did you find an illustrator to work with?
Hannah and I were old friends from Tunbridge Wells before going our separate ways to Bristol and London respectively. Years later, when I saw Hannah’s illustrations, I knew she’d be perfect. It’s been so wonderful working with her; her ideas are amazing and I love her use of colours and the quirky detail she adds.
Body image is an important topic to discuss with children. What is one piece of advice you would give to parents and caregivers on how to have a healthy relationship with their body?
Definitely to encourage them to talk about their feelings and to make them aware that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes and there is no such thing as a ‘perfect body’.
What advice would you give to your 10 year old self?
To not feel too embarrassed to ask my mum certain things about my body. I’ve always been very close to my mum, but I do remember bottling a lot of stuff up in regards to this. All it would have taken was a conversation, a bit of reassurance and those negative feelings would have dissipated.
What’s next for you?
I’m going to continue my journey with Why, oh why, am I a crocodile?, then hopefully, if all goes well, I shall be teaming up with Hannah again for the next book (there are plenty in the pipeline!).
How can we buy the book?
Thank you Alex for this super interview and I hope it has inspired parents and caregivers up and down the country and buy your book! Can’t wait to see what comes next…