Andrea Chatten has specialised, for over 25 years, in working with children from ages 5-16 with emotional and behavioural difficulties. She is currently working as ‘Lead Children’s Emotional & Behavioural Psychologist’ with schools and families in Sheffield. Developing positive, trusting relationships has always been at the heart of her practice with children and young people in order to nudge them into improved psychological well-being. Over the years, Andrea has developed and applied many positive developmental psychology approaches. She has also incorporated this into her stories in order to help children, young people, and their families gain understanding and potential strategies to try. She hopes that this will help them to deal with an array of behavioural issues those children and young people could experience.
What inspired you to write ‘The Blinks’ series?
I had been teaching children with emotional and behavioural issues for a few years and realised the importance of them getting more than just an academic curriculum. I always felt that the kids I worked with would do ok but what about those that didn’t? The Blinks are my way of helping other children understand some of the fundamental aspects of emotional understanding in order to promote positive well-being and resilience throughout childhood.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Many children worry and in my experience worrying thoughts lead to feeling anxious, and anxiety underpins every issue that I work with so it felt a good place to start.
What was the most challenging part of writing your book?
Finding the time. I try to make writing my hobby and my psychology work my job. It is difficult though as the lines are blurred especially as my job means that I am a Blink most of the time!
Did you learn anything from writing your books and, if so, what was it?
I have learned so much. I have learned to be more patient. When you finish a book you want it in your hand as soon as possible but when you are at the mercy of many processes, it takes time, and rushing things certainly doesn’t help. I have also learned how to be a more accomplished writer. My first novel was a bit fluffy in places as I was inexperienced. I know that the stories are now getting better, and my writing style has also now developed and is more tuned in.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
I read somewhere that if you think you have a book in your head, you should write it. So just do it. It is such an accomplishment when you stick to your book and see it through to publication. Then when people buy it, read it and actually like it then it makes all the difficult days worth every second.
If this book is part of a series, tell us a little about it?
The Blinks is a series of novels helping children understand what they feel and what to do with those feelings at difficult times. They are stories which offer subtle support. So far we have covered Worry, Anger, and Self-Esteem. I intend to do Sad, Shy, and then wrap it all up with Love.
What is your main goal for your books and why?
To help kids name and claim their feelings and develop emotional intelligence. It doesn’t matter how clever, successful or rich you are, if you can’t sustain long-term happiness and well-being, then your resilience in difficult times is hugely affected. I also believe that if we help children get this right today, then they will become better parents of tomorrow and prevent further cross-generational complications.
What do you read for pleasure?
Psychology books, articles or now and then whilst on holiday a page turning read. My last favourite was ‘The hundred-year-old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared’ – superb!
Do you have a favourite book and what is it about this book/author that you enjoy/admire the most?
I am not sure I have a favourite book or author as I believe I am a difficult audience. If it doesn’t get me in the first few pages, I move on to something else. However, mental health and psychology books always grab me. I read Jon Ronson’s book about Psychopaths on holiday this year, I couldn’t put it down.