Many writers touch on ‘big themes’ in their fiction – life, death, loss, etc. – but it’s another thing entirely to write about them without characters to hide behind. Cathy Shuter has done just that with her latest book: 100 Free Ways To Happier Days! 'Talking To Children About Death And Dying.'I caught up with her in cyberspace to talk about her work.
Hi Cathy, thanks for joining me. I can see from your Amazon page that your latest book is part of a wider series. What prompted you to write specifically about death and dying for children?
I work with children and young people in my role as a Wellbeing Caseworker. Quite a number of them have experienced relatives and friends being very ill and dying. They find that their parents and carers avoid talking to them about what is happening and this often leads to them feeling anxious and afraid.
Talking to parents and carers revealed that many know they really should talk to their children when their loved ones are seriously ill but they don’t know how to bring the subject up. They want to shield their children from being upset.
I thought that a book offering tips on how to tackle this subject would be useful.
Did you approach writing this book in a similar way to your previous works?
Yes. My books offer 100 free or very inexpensive tips that people can use to help them tackle a variety of issues. Other themes my books have covered include: coping with anxiety, how to approach Menopause, how to feel happier working in schools, and how to deal with transition to college from school.
Each book is designed to be quick and easy to read. People can try the tips that appeal to them and skip the ones that don’t.
Were there any particular challenges in creating this book?
One challenge was making the tips relevant to all ages and stages of development. Children develop at different rates so I wanted to ensure that the tips would be helpful to all ages.
What are your goals for 100 Free Ways To Happier Days! 'Talking To Children About Death And Dying'?
When I wrote the book, I wanted my writing to be accessible, quick to read and the ideas easy to apply. My goal has been to create a book that is helpful to as many parents and carers as possible. I have produced it as cheaply as I can so that cost is not a barrier.
Were there any influences or defining experiences that made you want to become a writer?
I love reading personal development books and have learnt a lot from them so I wanted to share what I have learnt with others. I have an informal writing style that can appeal to people that don’t usually read personal development books.
What have been your highs and lows in independent publishing?
For me, publishing my own books is thrilling. I love that a book can be created just from ideas that pop into my head. The thoughts and ideas get translated into sentences that I type using my laptop and the book is drafted. If someone buys my book it gets printed and sent out. My thoughts have become a thing!
The lows are connected with marketing. I am not very good at selling myself!
Reading your Amazon page I get a sense of a spiritual core or impetus to your work. Could you shed any light on that?
Yes, I would consider myself to be a spiritual person. I believe we are all connected and on this planet to learn from and help one another. My books are based around that core belief.
You’ve written two books that have a connection to Autism Spectrum Disorder. What would you most like people to understand about ASD?
I would like people to understand that no two people with ASD are the same. Each individual has their own unique challenges but they also have their own unique gifts to share with the world.
How important is a connection to Nature for you as a person and as a writer?
I find being in Nature very grounding. When I walk the dogs in a wood, I feel incredibly peaceful. I like wild places such as The New Forest. I believe that we all benefit from visiting wild places.
Many of my books touch upon the importance of using our senses, living in the moment and surrounding ourselves with Nature as often as possible.
What book are you working on at the moment?
I am working on another ‘100 Free Ways To Happier Days’ type book. This one is intended to help children and young people to feel safe and benefit from being online.
Where can we find out more about you and your writing?
My Trusty Life Coaching Facebook page features my writing and has some Facebook Live videos that talk about them:
I also have a page called ‘Reading And Writing About Life’ that features all things book related:
I have a blog that includes my Cloud Thoughts Blog. This has links to all my writing to date:
All my books can be found here:
What books and authors have inspired you?
The first personal development book I read inspired me so much. It was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I find Sonia Choquette’s books inspiring too. The Book Of Joy by the 14thDalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu stopped me in my tracks. It is simply beautiful.