Tuesday, 16 September 2014
Blog Tour - Finding a Voice by Kim Hood
Today I am pleased to welcome Kim Hood to my blog. Kim's latest release, Finding a Voice, is a great book which covers the taboo subject of mental illness, a subject which is hitting the headlines more and more in current months. It is a subject which has been hidden in previous years, an illness which I myself have suffered with for many years and I therefore was eager to review this fantastic book which I hope will help children sufferers to speak out and seek support from those around them. Kim Hodd joins me on my log to talk about the challenges she faced writing about this taboo subject.
IS MENTAL ILLNESS A ‘TABOO’ SUBJECT IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
To be honest, I didn’t think I was writing a book that contained a taboo theme when I wrote Finding a Voice. I was just writing a story, and story for me always starts with interesting characters. It just so happens that a lot of the interesting people I have known over the years have also suffered with mental illness. Some of them have been kids. And all of them have been members of some sort of family of course. So it didn’t seem out of bounds to include a character with a mental illness in a book for children and teens.
While I didn’t think about mental illness being an off-limits subject matter in fiction, I was well aware of how difficult real life mental illness is for kids. It can be draining and scary and confusing for everyone involved—those struggling with their own mental health and the people around them struggling to support them. It is made so much harder by the fact that mental health is still unmentionable for the most part; not only does a family have to make it through dark days at times, but they have to do it silently.
This silence, for the most part, has extended to books for kids. If a book does address mental illness it is probably ‘edgy’, and definitely for older, more mature teens. Kids and younger teens are mostly kept at the periphery of discussions about difficult or disturbing issues—yet they are often the ones most affected by these very issues. With statistics indicating that mental health concerns are on the rise, especially for teens, how can ‘protecting’ kids from the subject be healthy?
Of course, there are also many kids who, luckily, have no life experience with mental illness. I would guess there is a child at their school who does though. Maybe that child needs someone to understand. Books can open up discussion, or at least give kids a window into diverse experiences.
Diversity is almost a cliché in discussions about books for kids and teens right now, but it really is important isn’t it? Mental illness has got to be a part of this diversity, as difficult a theme as it might be. After all, don’t all kids deserve to see aspects of their experiences reflected in the books they read?
Thank you Kim for joining me today and I hope that this book helps at least one child in seeking support for a mental illness.
I would also just like to take this oppurtunity to highlight Rethink Mental Illness - Time to Change, a fantastic organisation which helps support Mental lllness. I think this video is such a powerful piece of film and really highlights the reality that mental illness touches so many of us: