What inspired you to write Katie and the Floods?
Our nursery was hit by devastating floods in December last year. The little girl Katie is inspired by my own daughter, Katie, who is four and struggled after the storm hit. She didn’t get as much attention as she normally does as we were so busy getting the nursery back and running. Katie told her dad Nick that he was no good for her any more. She said it was because he was too busy to play with her – and that she knew he was trying to help people, so hadn’t wanted to say anything. Nick is a joiner so he was lending a hand wherever he could. And then I realised it’s not just the physical things that mattered but that the emotional support was just as important.
How did the book develop from there?
We had to run out of portable buildings in the car park for a few weeks. Some staff and children had their homes flooded and many more saw friends and family experience disruption. Katie also said to us that the town was no good for her either, that it was a scary place to be when it rains. I realised I had a nursery full of children who had been through similar experiences to Katie and we needed to address this. So I collaborated with local author Sue Fox, whose home opposite the nursery was also flooded, and she brought in local artists Irene Sanderson and Anna McKay to illustrate the book. The book has been therapy for all of us. Until you experience it, it’s really hard to get across how it feels.
How did the children react to it?
Our children loved it, they shared memories of Storm Desmond and asked lots of questions. The feedback we have had from parents and grandparents has also been amazing. At the book launch, Katie thanked everyone for coming and explained to people why we’d done it. She is very proud of it.