I’m excited to share my latest interview with author, Ali Jeffries. Her debut book, Dear Parent Carer is out now. We talk about writing about mental/physical health issues, making a positive difference, and an attempted kidnapping in Paris!
Ali Jeffries has been married for nearly 20 years and has two amazing sons. One in his twenties, the other a teenager. She lives in the East Midlands with her beloved Staffie, a new lockdown kitten, and a budgie who needs anger management!
Qualified as a Level 3 TA, Ali worked for some time with children and young adults on the autistic spectrum, specialising in behavioural management. She has a wealth of experience dealing with mental health issues within families. This led to the launch of her support group for parents caring for children with mental and physical health issues. When COVID struck, and face-to-face support was no longer possible, Ali realised writing down all the information and experience she had accumulated was the next best thing. Dear Parent Carer was born!
When she’s not cooking or taxiing teenagers around, she loves to sit and play with broken glass and has sold many of her mosaic creations.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?)
I have been married to my best friend for nearly 20 years and have two gorgeous boys. When I was doing some research before starting my first support group, I met with a media specialist and he said one of the best ways to raise awareness is to write a book. This stayed with me for a while and I kept putting it off because it appeared to be such a huge commitment. However, because support groups have not been appropriate option during lockdown, I decided to re visit the idea of writing a book and I felt it may be the next best thing to reach out to the people I was trying to help. The rest as they say is history. When I am not writing I love to sit and create with my youngest. I make pieces using stained glass mosaic. Having a creative outlet has been a Godsend during the years, for me, it’s the best form of therapy.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
It is my first book, but now I have the writing bug I am sure it won’t be my last.
What genre is it, and what is it about?
It is a self-help book for parents who are caring for a child or young person with mental/physical health issues. It has the message that as a carer its ok and healthy to recognise that you need support and care to.
What or who inspired you to write this book?
I learned so much during the years I was caring for my two boys who had both severe mental and physical health issues. I thought that sharing this knowledge with others in a similar position may help make their journey a little easier. I would rather have the opportunity to support parents face to face but because during this time that has not been possible, I felt writing it all down was the next best thing. I also remember sitting in a waiting room in A & E on one of our many visits and saying to my husband, perhaps when we get through this other folk in a similar position would appreciate having a like minded person to talk to.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
If you find yourself thinking or saying I should write a book, just do it. It is an amazing experience. I think we all have a story inside of us. Just try getting a huge sheet of paper and give yourself 15 minutes to get down all the ideas you have. Just empty your head and write, the messier the better. After 15 minutes look at what you have written down and you may start to see some obvious patterns. Keep doing that exercise until you can see the bones of the story come together. It’s a fascinating exercise and a great motivation to take it further.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
When I started putting together the framework for the book my lovely editor said to me “just because you know about something relevant to the subject you are writing about, do not presume that other like minded people know about it too”. The thought that something I wrote may make a positive difference to the reader was huge motivation.
List three interesting facts about yourself
I have a condition called synaesthesia which happens when any two of our senses cross over. This enables me to taste some colours. This can be a little precarious when I am working with glass.
I was grabbed from a car in Paris is an attempted kidnap. Apparently, this was not an isolated incident. Women had been kidnapped and then taken abroad to be sold for camels.
I used to work for the Forensic Science Society putting together big conferences for CSI (Crime Scene Investigators) from all over the world. My perfect job would have been a profiler for the FBI.
What is your least favourite part of the publishing/writing process?
Every time I had to send away my manuscript for the editing and proofing process, during this period I felt quite lost.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Please spread the word, please do what you can to help this get in front of the audience it could help.
What is your next project?
I have started a blog post on my new website which has just been launched, so this gives me an opportunity to write on a regular basis. I am going to wait and see if those people who read the book have further questions or ask for more information on a certain topic and see whether that could be another book. I would also love to give writing fiction a go. I have written the first chapter.
Are you a parent caring for a child or young person with physical or mental health issues?
Are you struggling to get the right support not only for your child but for yourself as well?
Navigating the obstacles that come alongside caring for a child with additional needs can seem like a minefield. It can often feel like it is you against the whole world and it is so hard to know where to turn or what to do. Ali Jeffries was plummeted into this unknown world herself and knows only too well of the difficulties and heartache that parent carers can face. In this book Ali shares her experience and compassion through practical advice for anyone responsible for young people who need extra help.
She offers support and insight and gently holds the hands of those facing difficult situations with their own children. Ali helps parents avoid pitfalls and gives them confidence that whatever it is they are facing into; they do not have to do it alone. She also coaches parents in the importance of self-care, understanding only too well how important it is to look after yourself as well as the ones you are caring for.
Connect with Ali: