On Loving follows Rose who must deal with a storm of emotional chaos involving family, secrets and another man. What was the source of inspiration for the journey that Rose goes on in this book?
As a family physician, I’ve had a true chance to work with different people, men or women, at different stages of their lives and this gave me a chance to get more familiar with humans’ emotional changes and the way they affect people’s lives. People that I’ve come to know and worked with always inspire me. An important lesson I’ve learned during all these years of practicing was that self-awareness and self-scrutiny are the hardest tasks to get through in life and people who have the chance to achieve them are, indeed, the luckiest people alive. Rose is an accomplished woman, modern and respected. A woman with a good career and education who has a wealthy family with all the possibilities in front of her, but she is still missing something, and she doesn’t feel complete. She needs to know her roots and she needs to go through her personal growth to become satisfied with herself. Falling in love and what comes next gives her this opportunity to know herself, her strengths, her weaknesses and how to overcome her fears and open her heart to embrace her life at every stage of it. She learns that being a woman is a privilege and something to be proud of.
Rose is an intriguing and thoroughly developed character. What were some driving ideals behind her character?
“Rose”, a symbol of new beginnings, hope and resilience, was the name I chose for this main female character. The year is 1972 and the world is changing. She is a modern and educated woman with the respect for her fellow human beings. She is a strong-willed character, but weak and fragile at the same time during the challenges she faces while taking many steps of her love-driven life journey. As in real life, being a professional particularly being a physician, doesn’t protect her from the devastating and destroying effects of tragedies she endures in her turbulent life. She is a human being with all the flaws and faults, beauties and capabilities possible. She falls, she breaks into pieces, but she stands up again and moves on in her own ways. The title is chosen in a loving memory of the late, controversial Iranian poet, Forugh Farrokhzad, who was also a modern woman with her modern ideas much ahead of her time in a society that discriminated woman and criticized her for her ideas and the way she expressed her emotions. Just like Rose, she was a free spirit who explored her emotions and as a poet she brought them to life by writing beautiful poetry that showed the delicate soul of a young woman in a modest and pure manner. I intended Rose to represent such a woman, but in another type of setting, a surgeon with a good knowledge about literature who learns how to analyze her emotional journey and connect to her inner being to become a better person.
This novel is emotional and explores the meaning of love in new ways. What were some ideas that were important for you to explore in this book?
“On Loving” is a love story, but more importantly it is a story about love itself: its psychology, its physiology and the research behind it. The concept of conditional versus unconditional love has been explored in depth in this story. Both main male characters were following their own agendas representing these two concepts from the beginning till the end. Valuing and getting to know your emotions (including love, anger, fear, jealousy, etc.) by working to achieve self-awareness was another main point I was intending to explore. Unfortunately, unknown or miscomprehended emotions can make us vulnerable in life and be the main source for depression and anxiety disorders. Rose, on the other hand, explored the real meaning of love (both of the above concepts), depression, bereavement and their inevitable consequences all through this story. Being a physician with the knowledge of these mental health issues never made her immune to these unfortunate consequences. In fact, she was missing the signs for years and this is what we see in real life of many people including health care professionals.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am working on a new story which is also about women’s related issues and the issues I work with as a physician. The title, “Greeting the Sun Again”, has also been chosen to honor Forugh Farrokhzad, the late Iranian poet, and it has been taken from the title of her popular and famous poem called, “I will Greet the Sun Again”. Just like “On Loving”, It is a love story twisted with literature, history and everyday life realities. I’m expecting it to be out by next year.
In 1972, Dr. Rose Hemmings has just finished her general surgery residency when a haunted stranger is shot in front of her in a New York City bar, and their lives become forever intertwined. And when, having been given the blessing of her adoptive father on his deathbed, Rose travels to prerevolutionary Iran to discover the past her American family kept secret from her, she finds a true Pandora’s box. It is a world both foreign and familiar, in which her primary place is as the heiress to a great tribe. In Iran, Rose will find family she never dreamed of, her own people, and a man who loves her as passionately as he does the rare black roses of his garden. She will return to the United States carrying a new secret and torn between two men: the one she loves helplessly, and the one who loves her unconditionally.
Woven throughout with Persian poetry ancient and modern, On Loving is the story of one woman’s lifetime of love and loss, of societal change in a nomadic people, and of overcoming personal challenges, including mental and physical health, to find true contentment. Above all, it is a story of love: its physiology, psychology and philosophy; the many forms it takes; its myths and truths; its challenges, its joys and its gifts.
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Same Inside, Different Outside is a wonderful children’s book that teaches biology and promotes diversity. Why do you think this is an important message to teach children?
I’m a nursing professor and one of the courses I teach is on Culture and Cultural Concepts which has certainly changed my worldview. I thought I had a good understanding of the various cultures and their beliefs and practices, however, one of the big lessons I learned was that becoming culturally competent is a journey that can take a lifetime. This made me realize that we need to teach children at a very young age to celebrate their uniqueness yet understand how in many ways we are all very similar. As a nurse, I also believe that children need to learn about the inside and outside of their bodies and although some of the concepts may be difficult for a younger child it is never too early to start introducing concepts that can be built upon as they complete their educational journeys.
I loved the pictures in this book. What was the art direction like?
Thanks, I loved the pictures, too. I worked very closely with my illustrator. Initially, I placed notations throughout the manuscript detailing my ideas for the illustrations and where they should be placed. Xavier, of course, used his creative and artistic abilities to bring the illustrations to life. It was fun to collaborate with him on this project and we really worked well together. Final edits were completed based on the input of the Waldorf Publishing team which certainly strengthened the book.
What do you hope young readers take away from your story?
First, and foremost I hope the readers enjoy the story and want to read it over and over again. Secondly, I hope they begin to understand that although we are unique and look different on the outside we are also very similar, especially on the inside. Lastly, I hope they begin to understand how some of the major parts of their bodies work. And that skeletons are really not scary and are somewhat like superheroes because they protect all of our insides.
Will you be writing more kids books that tackle other social issues?
Yes, although I’m currently working on the second pug book I’m also in the early developmental stages of inviting the readers back to Emma’s kindergarten class where I will address other social issues that help children to understand that although in some ways we are very similar it’s okay to be different.
Today is a very exciting day for Emma’s kindergarten class. Emma, Robert, and the rest of the student’s don t understand how they can all look so different on the outside, but look very similar on the inside. So Dr. Shaw is coming to visit, and she’s bringing Mr. Bones, who is a real life-size skeleton. Mr. Bones is going to help Dr. Shaw teach her lesson about the human body. Dr. Shaw has also brought a cool body screening machine with her so the children can see what their insides look like.
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In order to eliminate discrimination and promote inclusion, we need to start with our children. They are the future of this world and if they can learn to love and accept each other regardless of what they look like or act like, then the world will be richer for it. Deborah Hunt takes this idea and uses it in her children’s book Same Inside Different Outside. It’s a lovely short story accompanied by equally wonderful pictures to help bring the message home. The colors are bright and the lines are soft. The story takes place in a school setting which readers should be able to connect with. This makes the message more relevant and easy to understand. It’s a clever way to deliver a sometimes difficult message to such a young audience.
The representation of a medical professional as a woman and the teacher as a man is a nice and subtle way of breaking down gendered stereotypes when it comes to careers. In traditional books teachers are women and any medical or science-related job is played by a man. In a book about acceptance, this is a key idea to get across. The children in the book are aware of their differences from each other, which is a normal discovery at their age. The doctor who is presenting to the children in the book is kind and patient with them as she goes over the parts of our bodies under our skin. As they move through the lesson the children voice their concerns and are answered honestly. This is key for the story because it also teaches readers that it is okay to ask questions and you will receive an appropriate response.
I felt like the children had a vocabulary and an understanding of body parts that were a little beyond kindergarten. But this is a minor concern that does not impact the integrity of the message.
Deborah Hunt is able to deliver a sometimes difficult message with ease in Same Inside Different Outside. The illustrations are very nice and pleasing to look at. The content isn’t difficult to understand and the message is clear and easy to digest without being muddled. Children and adults alike will find that the message this book sends is one we have been trying to share for a long time.
Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1945175702
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