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An Interview with Claudia Herman

We are pleased as punch to see the release of How to Have Healthy and Respectful Relationships by Claudia Herman. This is the second book in her Still Growing Series. She had time for a quick chat with us.

How would you describe your book?

It’s a straight-talking guide to better understanding how human beings function and how to take the best care of ourselves. As the title suggests, How to Have Healthy and Respectful Relationships—how to be our own best friend. My psychotherapy practice suggests that self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and self-compassion are essential skills for navigating life’s challenges.

How long did it take to write?

It evolved from my therapeutic work. When I work alongside neurodivergent young people, it is helpful to develop ‘social stories’ to navigate new or tricky situations. It probably took a few days to write down. It had been used repeatedly as an oral story with different young people until it took on its current incarnation.

Why is this book important?

Every generation of young people faces a unique set of challenges. Support services for young people in the UK are very stretched. This book and my previous book are very simple and affordable ways for parents, carers, education settings and other professionals to open up conversations about mental and emotional wellbeing with young people. These conversations take place in schools and around dinner tables all over the world every day of the week.

You were specific about the illustrations. Tell us about your wants and why you asked for them?

JP and Sarah were the dream team on the previous book. For this book, I asked that we develop the characters from the first book because they are on a journey. I really want everyone who encounters the books to feel represented and included. It is essential that we see ourselves and our stories represented in the world; otherwise, it can be a lifelong piece of work to feel that we ‘belong’.

Who is your reader?

My reader is anyone who enjoys beautiful illustrations. The UK data suggests that young people start to experience social and emotional challenges as they enter secondary education at around  11 years old. Both books are very vaguely aimed at the top primary to middle secondary age range, approximately 8 -14 years old. Although, and this is a big ‘although’, when I work with young people, I always strive to work with them where they are socially and emotionally, rather than where their chronological age suggests they might be.

For this reason, the previous book has been very well received by readers a lot older than 14 years old. Many adults are all grown up on the outside, but little ‘them’ on the inside could really use some support. The books lend themselves well to informing parents, carers, and professionals in their approach to supporting young people. They are simply handy tools to have in our toolkit.

Some of Claudia’s ‘favourite people’ at the Picasso Museum in Antibes

When you are not writing, what else do you do?

I like beach walks with the dog and having laughs with my family. I enjoy music, reading, and faffing in the garden. I love listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I have re-read/listened to the entire Discworld series at least sixty-seven gazillion times. I especially love Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg. I love Margaret Atwood, Kate Atkinson, too many incredible writers. I love watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Such is my commitment that I’ve subscribed so that I can watch the different seasons from all around the world. I find it joyous and utterly fascinating. I love people-watching. I love Eurovision and The Moomins. I quite like a Nordic crime drama. I like really daft comedies, the dafter the better. I love a little adventure with my kids, in the UK or overseas. I love art, history, architecture, beautiful gardens, and the wild outdoors. I also work as a psychotherapist and educator. This is endlessly fascinating. I absolutely adore my work because of the people I get to work with.

Claudia loves nothing more than walking her dog on her favourite beach

You previously wrote What Happens When I’m Scared. How was it received?

It has been received well and used in school settings, social care settings, and by parents and carers who just want to provide opportunities for their young people to have a better understanding of themselves and others. Feedback was very positive. It has been used as a tool to open up conversations that might otherwise feel a little forced.

You’re watching TV and wish you were part of the writing team. What are you watching?

I’m going to show my age now, and I’m not even sorry— Spaced, The IT Crowd, and Green Wing. More recently, Ghosts, Here We Go, Bluey. I feel like sometimes we’re a bit snobby about what we’re willing to recognise as great writing. Kid’s TV and comedies are some of the cleverest, sharpest writing around.

Is the book how you imagined it to be?

Both times, it’s been better than I imagined. This might be due to my lack of imagination or JP and Sarah’s sorcery. I strongly suspect the latter. The illustrations and layout just pop.

What was the best thing about working with TAUK Publishing?

I spin a lot of plates between home and work. The best thing is that literally everything is done for me. I produce some words, Estelle gives my spelling and grammar a glow-up, JP and Sarah do magic stuff, and I just carry on with the million things I have to do and wait until it’s all gorgeous.

What’s next for Claudia Herman?

As well as my private practice psychotherapy work, I have a growing not-for-profit psychotherapy service called Blodyn Yr Haul Counselling and Therapeutic Support. Blodyn Yr Haul means sunflower in Welsh. Sunflowers are very clever. They turn themselves towards the sun for energy and track the sun across the sky. Here’s the clever bit. When there is no sun, they turn to face each other and get energy from each other. As a parent carer to neurodivergent, learning disabled, care-experienced, trauma-experienced young people, I am building a provision where parents, carers, and professionals can access support for themselves so that they can re-energise in order to care for themselves and to continue to care well for their young people.   And, of course, the next book is already germinating inside my head. I’ll try it out with my awesome clients for a bit and see how it goes.

If you are interested in Claudia’s services, click here

Her book is now available on Amazon.

 

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