Author Spotlight - Talar Herculian Coursey
What inspired you to write Ralphy's Rules for Feelings?
I hired a life coach for the first time during the pandemic and learned concepts about our thoughts and feelings that changed my life. I asked my life coach, "why didn't someone teach me this sooner?" So, I told her that I was going to write a children's book so that I could start sharing these tools with kids at an early age.
As for the school bus, that was my co-author and son's idea, because kids have lots of big feelings on the first day of school.
How has your background helped prepare you to write this book?
I would not have had the knowledge to share had I not worked with a life coach and gotten my life coach certification. My experience with life coaching was invaluable in creating the story.
Why is it important for kids to understand their big feelings and how will this book help them?
Big feelings will always be a part of our lives and the sooner kids understand how to identify them, feel them, and change them, the better equipped they will be in their little and bigger lives.
I learned through life coaching that feelings determine our actions and create our realities. We do not have feelings about a circumstance until we have thought about that circumstance. Until we have a thought about something, the circumstance is neutral - it is neither good nor bad. Our thoughts determine how we will feel about it.
In my book, I've used emojis to illustrate to kids what feelings can look like and first, emphasized that all feelings are valid and welcome. Second, the book teaches the kids, through Furrapist Jackson Johnson (my dog), how they can intentionally decide to sit with a feeling or choose another feeling. It's a very basic illustration of these concepts but given my audience, I wanted to make it as simple as possible.
In what ways is Ralphy's Rules for Feelings different from others on the market?
I believe that the use of emojis to illustrate the feelings and instruction from a "furry therapist" is unique to the book. I also strived to make the children in the story diverse so that more children could relate to it.
How is this book similar and different from the other children's book that you've written?
This book is the second of the Ralphy's Rules series. It's similar insofar it involves "adult" concepts that have been simplified for chiildren. It's different than my first book in that it is more about our feelings rather than "rules" for not taking things personally and being brave.
What do you want readers to know about you as an author?
I am a lawyer by day and an author by night. I have my certification as a yoga instructor and life coach. I'm an Armenian immigrant, born in Beirut, Lebanon, and lived in Saudi Arabia until I was 12. I immigrated with my family to Southern California in the 7th grade and I remember how hard it was to be different.
I am an avid reader and invest heavily in my personal development. I didn't begin my self-development journey until I was in my 30s and wish so much that I had started it sooner.
I have always had a calling to serve children and besides writing children's books, I also support Armenian orphanages in Lebanon, where I was born. The net proceeds from all my book sales go to the orphanages in addition to the annual fundraising I do with running the Salt Lake City Half Marathon. In the last 7 years, I've raised more than $100,000 for the orphanages.
Both Jackson Johnson and Ralphy are real dogs. I dog-walked Ralphy for two years before he moved away and got Jackson Johnson. All the kids on the school bus are real children. Riley is my son on the bus. Lakeisha is one of my mentees who is a second-year law student in Atlanta. Kairo is my other mentee's son. Indie is my stepsons' sister who has Downs Syndrome. Jaseena and Jude are my son's classmates.