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Ten Questions with Carrie Finison

A photograph of Carrie Finsion, author of Don't Hug Doug. A book about consent and respecting boundaries.

Today, we hear from Carrie Finison, author of Don’t Hug Doug. A children’s book all about consent and respecting boundaries: a  really important topic to introduce in the early years.

1. Why did you start writing books for children? 

Looking back, most of my jobs have involved books, writing, or storytelling in some way. As a teenager, I shelved books in the library, and as an adult I worked in educational publishing and technology. I took some time off from work after my son was born and cherished our moments reading picture books together. I thought if I could help create those moments for other parents and children, that would be the best job in the world! 


2. How did you get your book out into the world? 

I struggled with the right way to tell this story and say what I wanted to say without being too heavy-handed. It took many drafts, and at one point I put the story away for over a year. Then one day, a new beginning popped into my head. “You can hug a pug…or a bug…or a slug…but don’t hug Doug!” After that breakthrough the rest came together fairly quickly. I was lucky to already be working with my editor at Putnam on another book. My agent sent her Don’t Hug Doug and she bought it right away, and then paired the text with the perfect illustrator, Daniel Wiseman. 


3. Why did you write this book? 

I knew this was a common problem – we all know kids who have gone through a no-hugs phase, kids who avoid hugs due to sensory issues, and conversely, kids (and – ahem! – adults) who are overenthusiastic huggers. So I thought it would be fun and an interesting challenge to write a story about a kid who doesn’t like hugs. There are lots of hug-positive books out there, but not so many about NOT hugging. 


4. Do you relate to any characters in your stories – which ones and in what way? 

I relate to Doug because I distinctly remember NOT wanting to hug certain people, for example at a family reunion, but feeling obligated to do so. It’s not a comfortable feeling! 


5. What’s your favourite book and why? 

It’s too hard to pick just one! As a child I loved books that were full of magic, witches, and horses. I read Anne of Green Gables and the others in that series many times over. At some point, I discovered mysteries and read all of Agatha Christie’s books, and then later Dorothy Sayers. My current favorite mystery series is the Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French, but I’m almost at the end of it – so I guess it will soon be time to discover a new favorite! 


6. What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A veterinarian because I loved animals. 


7. What do you want children to get from your books? 

I hope they will be entertained, but I also hope they will learn something true — about the world, about life, and about how to treat each other. 


8. Best advice you’ve ever been given? 

My grandparents always said, “Be thankful for your health.” I had no idea what they were talking about at the time, but the older I get the more I realize how true that is! 


9. Finish this sentence for us…Reading from diverse bookshelves…

Reading from diverse bookshelves is so, so important for all readers. It allows us to see how other people’s experiences differ from our own, but more importantly it allows us to see what is universal, and the common humanity that binds us together no matter what our background. 


10. A message to readers of your book? 

How do YOU feel about hugs? Are you someone who likes hugs a lot? Or only from certain people or at certain times? Or maybe – like Doug – you don’t like them at all! The best way to find out whether someone else likes hugs is to ask – and then respect the answer that you hear. 


Buy Don’t Hug Doug here.

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