'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 1 October 2020

Guest Post: Karen Hendriks on The Inspiration of Feathers

You know when you have that feeling you should be doing something but you brush it away? That was me. It took a life changing moment for me to finally make life changes and write my first story, Feathers. Life had thrown sepsis my way and on the long road to recovery two things played around in my mind. My family, and the fact that I had always wanted to write picture book stories. This was the cosmic birth of Feathers.

As I healed, feathers would find their way to me in the most curious of places. Life continued but everyone in our family was affected by the trauma. I thought about my children a lot and wondered… 

As a teacher, I had recently taught a unit about the weather, and I had taken Kindergarten children outside with a bag of feathers. The laughter and joy we experienced remains with me to this day. I can still picture children giggling and chasing feathers every which way. One feather had been caught in the updraft and we all caught our breath as it was taken way up high in the sky and then it danced over the lake. It was one of those rare, perfect, magical moments. This was the inspiration for the first page of Feathers.

As my collection of feathers grew so did my story wings. Feathers are a spiritual symbol of love and protection and so this concept became woven into the story. Even if you lose someone you always have memories. No one can steal them away but you do need to find a way to access them. A dream treasure feather became the doorway to finding Mum in a child’s dreams. If you believe in magic it happens.

The strong emotional connection to Feathers kept me developing the story and it became something special. But we all know that as a writer we may think our story is special, but will anyone else? When Feathers was ready for submission I discovered Empowering Resources, they represent authors who have an empowering story to share. They publish quality books that express truths, initiate dialogue and empower the lives of others. This was a perfect match for Feathers. Feathers was submitted and the significance of the story and its strong message resonated with my publishers, Jeremy and Naomi.

Once Feathers was contracted well over four years ago, Jeremy began the search for an illustrator. He was excited and happy to secure Kim Fleming as the illustrator and said we were extremely lucky. Empowering Resources had been trying to secure Kim for a long time. He sent me some examples of Kim’s work and I adored her whimsical, soft style. It was a perfect match for Feathers, the stars had aligned. We then had to wait until Kim could start to do the illustrations inside her busy schedule.

The waiting game began. I cried when I received the first images for Feathers and immediately knew this was a story that was uplifting and empowering. One of the images resonated so strongly with me that I could see myself within the image on one of the spreads. I was called upon to do the editing and proof reading of the final drafts of the story. The initial story did not change much at all. But I can remember agonising over the word verandah. It was to be my choice as to which way it would be spelt in the story. You have no idea how long I agonised over this. Once the story was ready it had to be fitted in a print run schedule and I learnt perhaps one of my biggest lessons, patience.

And now that Feathers has arrived amidst Covid I have once again learnt new things. There was to be no physical launch for Feathers so an online launch became the new reality. And, tah dah, Feathers is here.

The journey of Feathers has taught me that life will always be full of challenges but you are in control of how you react to them. Acceptance of what you can’t change gives you new perspectives. You learn how to adapt and change to situations. Covid has also brought as many blessings as challenges to my world. There was a time I would never have imagined I would be doing a book tour online and here I am.

Karen was a primary school teacher and has always loved using picture books to brighten children’s lives.

A love of story and teaching children has led Karen to becoming a children’s author.  Picture books allow a child to be purely in the moment.  Karen believes a school without picture books is not a school at all.

Karen lives on the south coast of New South Wales with her family and little dog Elmo.  Being by the sea, with sandy toes and close to nature is what makes Karen happy. She rides her pushbike with Elmo in the basket along the beaches.

Karen can be found writing in local coffee shops or even on scraps of paper or typing some random idea into her phone.  She believes kindness is catching just like hugs from picture books.

With the lightness of a feather in the breeze Karen hopes her stories reach and find you.

Get in touch with Karen Hendriks via: