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Personal struggle inspires PND story

Personal experience inspired Heather Gallagher to write 'Happy Pants'. (A photo of Heather holding her book)

Happy Pants

Writer: Heather Gallagher

Illustrator: Liz McGrath

Publisher: Wombat Books

A personal battle with post-natal, or perinatal, depression drove Heather Gallagher to write 'Happy Pants' out of a desire to help families understand the illness together.

“During my own battle with PND, one of my greatest concerns was the possible impact I was having on my children,” Heather said. “It’s no-one’s fault.”

'Happy Pants' has been endorsed by PANDA (Post and Antenatal Depression Association) and COPE (Centre of Perinatal Excellence).

Heather lives on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. 'Happy Pants' is her first picture book. Her junior fiction book 'Ferret on the Loose' was released in May 2013 by New Frontier Publishing.

'Happy Pants' shows post-natal depression  affects the entire family, and it's no-one's fault. (Cover image of 'Happy Pants')

Describe your book: 'Happy Pants' is a picture book about a little boy struggling to deal with his Mum’s post-natal depression. The main character is deliberately not named – he is intended to be “everyboy”.

What was your favourite book as a child and why? 'The Magic Faraway Tree' because of the magical creatures and the infinite possibilities with the lands at the top of the tree.

What is your favourite book for children now, and why? 'Winnie the Pooh'. My husband bought this for me when I was pregnant with our first child and I have very fond memories of us reading it aloud to each other in front of the fire. I love the characters and the life-lessons we can learn from them.

Who are your favourite authors and why? I really enjoy Tony Ross’s picture books and Paul Jennings’s stories – I love the magic realism aspect of Paul’s work – taking something real and giving it a magical twist.

Where do you write? At my desk in our kitchen.

If I wasn’t a writer... I might have ended up a lawyer – I studied law and was well on that path until I realised it just wasn’t me.

Other than writing I’m passionate about... my family, my dog and craft. I belong to a lovely craft group that meets once a month; there is something so bonding about chatting while knitting or doing something else creative with your hands.

My highest point in writing was... When I found out by first chapter book 'Ferret on the Loose' was going to be published.

My lowest point was... About a year before 'Ferret' was published, I was writing full-time home alone in a new town where I didn’t have any friends. My days consisted of trying to write and collecting rejections from the mail box. I felt like chucking it all in.

What are you working on now? A junior series.

Read my review of 'Happy Pants' here.

'Happy Pants' is available through Wombat Books. Heather is available to talk to different groups – be they writing or support groups – about it. She can be contacted through her website, Visit Heather's Facebook page to keep up with her news.

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