BLOG TOUR: Helen and Thomas Docherty

Good morning!

I hope you are all doing well on this lovely Friday! I have an exciting interview with author Helen Docherty to celebrate the release of her new book, The Screen Thief.

Look out! There’s a Snaffle about, and she’ll eat your screen as a snack! When the Snaffle arrives in the city, she just wants to play, but everyone’s too busy staring at their screens. The Snaffle discovers that she likes screens, too – as a snack! When she chomps down every last screen in the city, that’s when the fun really starts . . .

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How would you describe The Screen Thief in five words?  

Timely, original, funny, heart-warming, optimistic

The book’s theme is especially relevant as a result of the pandemic, when most of us have been glued to our screens. How have you and your family been balancing getting away from screens with the need to stay connected via them?  

We’re big readers in our family, and I think we’ve all read more books since the pandemic started than ever before. Luckily, both our daughters (11 and 13 in June) were already in the habit of reading at bedtime, and I still read a chapter to them every evening as well – it’s a tradition I’ll keep going for as long as they want me to!

Like every other family, we’ve had to rely enormously on screens to stay connected with family and friends, and to do our work (or schoolwork). During the first lockdown, we Zoomed the grandparents on an almost daily basis – chatting to the grandchildren helped to keep their spirits up. We tried PE with Joe, and I kept it going for several months – in fact, I became quite addicted to my morning workout and endorphin boost! We were very conscious of the need to balance screen time with time away from screens, so we went on a family walk or bike ride every day (we’re very lucky to live within walking distance of the coast), and for the first time ever, we managed to cultivate a vegetable patch in the garden.

During the first lockdown, the weather was so wonderful it was easy to spend time outside. Towards the end of the year, when we entered the second and then third lockdowns, we all started to experience Zoom fatigue. Tom and I were worried about how much time our daughters were spending on their screens, especially our eldest daughter, who had to self-isolate several times because of Covid cases in her secondary school. It was harder to entice them outside, especially in all the wild winter weather.

So, we did what thousands of other families did during lockdown: we got a puppy (Tesni) in January. The first few weeks were brutal – Tesni’s arrival coincided with arctic winds, snow, hail, sleet – you name it – and instead of hunkering down in the warm we had to take her outside every hour (or less) to do her business. Now, however, we’re enjoying our twice daily walks with her; and the girls are happy to come too. She’s proved an excellent way of tempting them away from their screens for a while!

What do you think the pandemic’s effect on our relationship with screens will be? Do you think we’ll be more attached to our screens than ever before – or will we appreciate meeting up in person more? Will kids be more or less attached to their screens?

I think we’ve all missed hanging out with friends and family – something we used to take so much for granted – and I expect that, initially at least, people of all ages will want to do that as much as possible. However, I think people are more attached to their screens now than ever. Even when we’re out and about, we always have our phones with us, and we’re constantly checking them for updates. It’s hard to say whether the pandemic has increased this; our screen addiction has been getting worse for years. I wrote The Screen Thiefwellbefore the pandemic started! If we don’t want our kids to be overly attached to screens, we have to offer alternative activities and lead by example – but of course, that’s easier said than done.

The Screen Thief by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty is out now, published by Alison Green Books

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A massive thanks to Helen for this first part of the interview! Don’t forget to check out Emily’s blog tomorrow to read part two of Helen’s interview! It promises to be brilliant!

S x

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