James Shelly writes about the inspiration for his debut book, 'Alora's Dreams'

April 29th, 2021

By James Shelly

The idea to create a picture book was born of the intersection between a few themes in my life. 

One is my interest in and love for words and rhyme, and the power that simple, succinct, well thought out phrases can convey. I write and record/produce my own songs too, and writing rhymes seems to come naturally to me, so when an idea for a story or a theme comes along, it tends to just fall out of me. I’ve always been interested in the idea of writing a book of sorts, and this style seems right for this time in my life.

The second is my role as a father of three young children. At the time I wrote the story, I was immersed in the world of children’s picture books, reading a few every night before bedtime (theirs, not mine), and attached to this, I was also immersed in the world of teaching young children about the world and about themselves through this medium.

And the third was my professional life. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, I am equally immersed in the world of children’s minds - exploring their development, their communication, their internal worlds, and helping them to make meaning of their emotional experience. 

And so, from these three lines, the idea was planted and grew, and 'Alora’s Dreams' was the result.

The theme in the story itself was inspired by the work of Carl Jung, who was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. And, in particular, his work on the concept of the shadow; the unknown, dark side of our personality.

Picture books can be a powerful tool in many forms. They are captivating and entertaining, and have the ability to convey a message and teach a lesson in a way that transcends more direct teaching. And this is exactly what I wanted to do - to create something that is both entertaining on the surface and has a deeper worth in helping people, young and old, learn a valuable life lesson. 

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Tags: author, individuality, publishing

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