Meet Alexa Craven, Author of 'Pocket Isle' - COMING SOON

Updated: May 11

Alexa Craven first recognised the need for a therapeutic book aimed to help a child understand how a loved one might feel when battling cancer, when she was asked that very question by two little boys she is very fond of, in relation to their Mother, a loving friend of hers.


Cancer treatment as we know can be stressful for any family facing many challenges and changes, and children are very quick to pick up on these changes.


'Pocket Isle' lends itself as a therapeutic tool, equipped to help children process the experience of having a loved one with cancer, with a helpful guide for adults to use when communicating with a child. It is written in a child-friendly manner, supporting a child to understand the uncertain nature of the illness in language that makes sense to them. This story gently addresses a child’s experiences and emotional needs, entering into their inner world with care and responsibility. Using metaphor and storytelling as a communication method allows children to communicate more openly about their thoughts and feelings.


Alexa hopes that this book gently invites people with cancer to remain engaged with life, keeping their body clean and living as well as possible.



"Join Monty on a quest that features a ship with an odd set of sails, mischievous lemurs of all colours shapes and sizes and a very important campfire…."



Book Design and Illustration by Happydesigner


You can find Alexa here:

Instagram: @alexacraven_author



What inspired you to start writing?

I wanted to create a playful, imaginative story which would appeal to all children, guiding children to lovingly accept the unknowns and uncertainties in life, encouraging resilience in our children of today.


The main goal for me was to gently guide a child to reach a loving acceptance; continuing to live life to the fullest extent possible, even amidst difficulty and uncertainty.


I first recognised the need for a therapeutic book, aimed to help a child understand how to reach a loving acceptance amidst difficulty and uncertainty, when I was asked how a loved one might feel when battling cancer, by two little boys I am very fond of in relation to their Mother.


Cancer treatment as we know can be stressful for any family facing many challenges and changes, and children are very quick to pick up on these changes.


As children get older, they are usually able to understand more and more about illness and treatment, but for me I felt that a child’s age is only a general guide to what they may understand. For me, a 5 year old may understand some things more easily than an 8 year old, it depends on the child. It was clear to me that I had two children who were insanely bright and compassionate. They had been gifted in an honest and open environment and I wanted to connect with them in the same unconditional loving way.


When did you start writing?

I started in lockdown, I tapped into my creative side, it helped with my wellbeing, and I felt I had purpose.


Describe your writing space?

I would describe my writing space as boho. I have one room in my Victorian cottage I like to keep as a creative space, it is a space that is truly my own. It is full of second-hand vintage items, perfectly undone, yet perfectly done. A unique colourful space that contains plenty of items that have some sort of value to me, that tell a story, anything works, there is no should. I love using scented candles and I will always have a green tea on the go.


What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?

During the process of writing my book, I passionately researched an array of books, it was imperative to me to find a book that was fun, imaginative and gentle with the truth.


In my search, I was disappointed to learn that it seems whenever we hear a story about someone who has cancer, the terminology used to describe the human’s experience of cancer is framed in military terms.


While I understand the language is intended to motivate people and evoke positivity, I learnt that for many people it can also feel quite negative for those with cancer to receive. It has been argued that words such as “battle” and “fight” are inappropriate, as they suggest that cancer can be defeated if one just fights hard enough. Cancer as we know is not a disease that has its own rules and doesn’t always respond to treatment the way people hope it is supposed to. The use of the battle metaphor implies a level of control that patients simply do not have.


A person with cancer might feel pressure to manage with the sense that people might think that they are not “fighting” hard enough.


For some people, thinking of their body as the enemy when the body has served them well feels wrong to them. These people feel they do not want to engage in a battle with themselves. These people can choose to gently consent to making a series of choices, to bring the cancer back under control with the hope of extending life.


Battling metaphors suggest that people with cancer who succumb quickly have in some way failed to fight hard enough and that people who survive beyond their expected prognosis are in some way tougher with greater strength.


No one with cancer should be considered a loser in any way during the course of disease. Once someone receives a cancer diagnosis, this journey requires patience, tolerance, and courage.


I found myself concerned for the boys, I knew I wouldn’t be able to shield them from this language forever however I didn’t want to expose them to a book with militant language in it.I would agree with many others on how we can invite us to ask ourselves, what other ways we can talk about living with cancer that are loving and encouraging and less disparaging.


With this new found empathy, I found myself meeting the question of “why is she acting different?” with a shared gentle metaphorical language between the boys and me, a language which I felt that was relatable to them. I felt this was wholesome, and this felt organic and uplifting. I remember thinking at least if I am honest with them, they can never claim that I fibbed to them!


Often, feelings about a painful experience are too painful to explore, in this case they are banished to our unconscious. However it is in the unconscious that they can cause such misery. Repressed emotional energy can leak out in all manner of neurotic symptoms if left in the dark.


The child will revisit his/her painful thought via dreams, in his/her acting out behaviour, and in his/her ways of relating to people in everyday life. Theorists Freud called this ‘repetition compulsion’ (1917). Van der Kolk writes: “The trauma keeps them rigidly fixated on the past, making them fight the last battle over and over again” (Van der Kolk, 1989). This therefore mans the feelings of trauma keep getting retriggered, the child has to re live the whole situation again. These triggers can be in the form of a facial expression setting of a feeling, a sound, or an image. If triggered these traumatic memories consist of somatosensory impressions or intense emotions when the victims are aroused or exposed to reminders of the trauma.


Where do you get your inspiration?

A loving Nanny to the boys, I treasured my times reading adventure novels written by well-known English authors to the boys and sharing that of a similar narrative in our heads before bedtime. I learnt how important sharing imaginative journeys and the mystery and magic of metaphor truly is. This was echoed to me through the psychology degree I was studying for.


Who is your favourite character?

Little Monkey, why because he is a little vulnerable, just like me at times. The world needs more vulnerability. I came across the Netflix documentary Brene Brown- the call to courage and was reminded of the podcast I listened to when I was faced with a difficult time in my life. I have learnt that we all crave certainty but love is about meeting uncertainties.


"Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It is having the courage to show up when you don’t know what the outcome will be.”


I love that the route of the word courage is cor- the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Having courage to be willing to let go of what we think others would want us to be and showing up as who we are. Saying I love you first, sitting and planning your life whilst you wait results, coming out to your parents.


What is the key theme/ and or message in this book?

Pocket Isle is a story of courage and strength. This book is a playful, imaginative story that will appeal to all children, guiding children to lovingly accept the unknowns and uncertainties in life, encouraging resilience in our children of today.


The main message of this story is that of acceptance; continuing to live life to the fullest extent possible, even amidst difficulty and uncertainty.


This book also lends itself as a gentle therapeutic tool equipped to help children process the experience of having a loved one with cancer.


What was the inspiration for the story?

Pocket Isle is a story of courage and strength, a book for all children, guiding children to lovingly accept the unknowns however the main inspiration for my book was in all honesty, honesty.


What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

We must try to collectively work together to minimise children acting out their traumatic experiences in anti-social ways. Children require the opportunity to tell their story to an empathic adult who can really help them work through their feelings about it and help the child properly process their pain, so children can finally put the painful emotion to rest so not to be spooked by it.


In this way, the child is able to be heard and therefore with help they will not need to keep acting out parts of their story. Story provides children conscious reflection of traumatic feelings compared to discharging them onto other individuals for example in the playground.


The handbook is a real gift in helping this process and in this way Pocket Isle is unique. I have had doctor friends read the book and tell me that they feel it’s an incredible book and it’s a great tool, it’s a new view on a topic, and this is what makes it unique. My reader will learn how to communicate with a child through their language, through metaphor. I haven’t yet found any competitive books I feel that work in this way. I really want to emphasise this USP, there is nothing like this on the market right now, this is an opportunity for us to connect on a deeper level.


Who is your favourite author and why?

As an author Enid Blyton, the famous five and secret seven have been a favourite for many years. A real treat!


What book is currently on your bedside table?

I have just finished reading you are the one by Kute Blackson, a real gift. This book really is fuel for your soul.


Do you listen to audiobooks? If so are there any you recommend?

Yes I listen to too many. I can recommend Slo Mo, a podcast with Mo Gawdat.


This is special to listen to, it’s a series of extraordinary conversations, exploring obstacles in life with stunning honesty. The not perfect podcast with Poppy Jamie, the Travel Diaries, Saturn Returns with Caggie …


What do you like to do when you are not writing?

Dancing, to Prince.


Who is your hero?

I would say my Mother and my Father.


My Mother taught me courage through her boundless love and my Father taught me to have compassion through his commitment to love.


What is the best part of your day?

The morning – I am well rested and ready to begin a new day, whatever it might bring.

 

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