What was the catalyst for writing Everyday Hero?
I have always had a fascination with everyday types of heroism which we encounter but perhaps don’t recognize. As a school counselor, I see many examples of this; the child who perseveres despite learning disabilities, the individual who comes to school each and every day, even though his or her home-life is chaotic. These thoughts led me to consider individuals with both mental and physical challenges and how everyday activities can prove difficult. I wanted to challenge, explore, and expand the concept of ‘hero’.
What was your favorite book as a child?
I loved Lucy Maud Montgomery! As a child, I loved Anne of Green Gables and Rilla of Ingleside. As an adult, I can recognize that Rilla of Ingleside is not Montgomery’s best on a technical level and yet I still connect with it. Perhaps a part of this is that glimpse of the everyday heroism of those who endured World War I, both in the battlefield and on the home front.
In your opinion, what makes a compelling story?
Now that is a million dollar question! For a story to be compelling, one must care about the characters. One can construct a brilliant and complex plot but if the reader has no investment in the outcome, he or she will not be drawn into the story.
Does your book have any special characteristics that make it unique?
Everyday Hero has a protagonist diagnosed with Aspergers, under the autistic spectrum, and I admit to more than a few nervous butterflies about this portrayal. It is a tremendous responsibility to be authentic and present a realistic interpretation of an individual which any challenge. The autistic spectrum is very broad and, therefore, Alice is not representative of all individuals with this diagnosis—far from it.
Do you gravitate toward a certain genre or type of writing? Why?
I enjoy writing for children and I hope that my books will entertain but also help. I want the reader to feel stronger at the end of any of my stories. As a school counselor, I come from a strength-based approach. I not only want to know about an individual’s poor choices, but also about those times of strength and success.
What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?
I hope Everyday Hero will continue the conversation about individuals with special needs and challenges so that they are identified not by their challenge but by the unlimited, wonderful, and multifaceted aspects of each individual.
I talk with my hands. When I taught high school, my students timed me to see how long I could go without some grand gesture. I don’t think I made it past the first minute. When I did a local television spot about my first book, I had to force myself to keep my hands still!
Kathleen Cherry lives in northern British Columbia with her husband and two daughters. She is a school counselor and is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in psychology. Kathleen loves working with children and empowering them to develop their creativity through writing. She enjoys visiting school classrooms and libraries. As well as writing, Kathleen also loves to run, travel, and read. For more information, visit www.kathleencherry.ca.