Wish The Otherworld Book 1 by Victoria Harris Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Most humans have forgotten their sparkle . . . hypnotized by the darkness that obscures it.
Twelve-year-old Cara O'Reilly always thought her father was teasing when he said she and her sister had fairy magic. But it's been nearly a week since he went on a mountain hike and vanished-right after an argument with Cara. She wished him gone, and now he is.
Cara's little sister Bri hasn't spoken a word since his disappearance. In fact, Cara feels like her whole family is under a curse. And it seems like all the adults in their family are keeping some sort of secret. Her world further tumbles into chaos when, after a close encounter with a living, breathing fairy, Cara realizes the old stories are all true. Now, she must find the door to the Otherworld to retrieve an ancient treasure. But can she battle the darkness to save her family-and the entire world?
Victoria Harris, DPsych, MA, BSc, Cert. Child Psychotherapy, Graduate Diploma Humanistic & Integrative Counselling & Psychotherapy, is a humanistic & integrative psychotherapist who specializes in using creative techniques for emotional healing. She works with children, adolescents, and adults.
Question: How did you come up with the idea to integrate your professional psychotherapy experience and apply it to writing fiction? Dr. Victoria Harris: We are all storytellers. Psychotherapy is about working with people’s lived experience or their ‘story’ and transforming it. This book is an integration of my own journey, as well as the journey of all those whom I have been privileged to encounter over my years of client work.
Question: What surprised you about the fiction writing process? Dr. Victoria Harris: The story came to me very easily but the hard work and learning happened during the editing process. I hadn’t realized quite how many re-writes I would end up doing, and how important it is to be open to constructive feedback. I was fortunate to have the input of great developmental editors along the way.
Question: Can you explain a bit how your research showed that creative storytelling can help children deal with mental health challenges? Dr. Victoria Harris: My research showed how creative techniques such as storytelling are used by psychotherapists because they are considered to be effective in creating change. Psychotherapy research has shown that listening to or reading stories which use metaphors can access our unconscious, and help us to express and process feelings. Stories can help children to better understand their experiences through using displaced communication, which can feel safer. A metaphor can represent the child’s issue in an indirect, less threatening way. The characters' issues can help those without the words to describe how they are feeling, allowing them to express and process their emotions more easily. So a story can actually facilitate a change in emotion.
Question: How can parents use fiction to help children who might be struggling with anxiety or depression? Dr. Victoria Harris: There are so many amazing books out there with themes that can help children when they feel challenged. Picking a book with a similar theme to what the child is going through and where there is a good resolution or learning can be helpful. Through the externalization of the struggle, problem solving can be fostered. Stories can help a child better understand their experience, make it manageable, and integrate their thoughts and feelings to give a sense of control. They can help those who are stuck in a challenging situation envision a better ending as the meaning of the story can be carried into other parts of their lives. The child can write their own story inspired by something they read such as a theme or a character, which can be shared with the parent, allowing the possibility of an alternative more hopeful ending to be co-created.
Question: What books and authors inspired you in your writing? Dr. Victoria Harris: Growing up I was fascinated by Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I grew up in the New Forest close to where the girl Alice who inspired the story lived. I actually spent many days looking down rabbit holes in the forest imagining a magical world! You can definitely see the influence of this book in Wish. I also loved The Famous Five by Enid Blyton. Nowadays there are so many great middle-grade books I could pick. For Wish I was particularly influenced by Irish mythological stories and folklore, and the movies I grew up with.
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