About Cherri Ryan

Cherri Ryan is an author who is inspired by the children and families she cared for as a family doctor in Australia for almost twenty years.

When she is not writing, Cherri works in medical education, and enjoys helping organisations that help others. In 2016, one of Cherri’s stories was animated and projected onto Brisbane City Hall as the Christmas Lights Spectacular.

Cherri’s debut picture book, Spirit, illustrated by Christina Booth and published by Black Dog Books (an imprint of Walker Books Australia), follows a young girl with creativity, courage and sailing dreams.

Cherri lives in Queensland, Australia, with her family, one cat, two guinea pigs and many visiting birds and possums. Cherri believes in hope, joy, perseverance and the power of stories.

10 Questions with Cherri Ryan

Which writers inspire you?

I am inspired by the community of children’s authors in Australia and around the world, who care deeply about providing wonderful, engaging stories for children. There are so many who inspire me, but some of my favourite authors are Dimity Powell, Samantha Wheeler, Sheryl Gwyther, Peter Carnavas, Michael Gerard Bauer, Jackie French, Emily Rodda, Carole Wilkinson and Jacqueline Wilson.

Which illustrators inspire you?

I enjoy the work of so many illustrators as each one has their own unique style and brings a different feeling to every story. I particularly love the work of Christina Booth, Jeannie Baker, Freya Blackwood, Sarah Davis, Demelsa Haughton, Lisa Falzon, Tania McCartney, Ann-Marie Finn and Nicky Johnston.

Was there a particular book in your childhood that had a big influence on you?

Yes, Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin – an amazing book about courage and getting to know your true self.

Is there a particular theme that runs through your writing?  

The characters in my stories find their own unique solutions to their problems and find courage even when they feel scared.

Why did you become a children’s author?

I love to bring smiles to children through my stories. My two children make me smile every day. When I was a little girl I spent some time in hospital with asthma and I know the comfort and joy that stories can bring when you don’t feel well. Even now, I love to curl up with a book whenever I can. I have cared for many children in my years as a doctor and I am always amazed by their ability to cope with illness and difficulties. I love the way that children will always look for a way to play – no matter where they are or what is going on in their lives. If my writing can help even one child to smile or feel hope, that brings me great joy.

Why did you become a doctor and a medical educator?

I enjoy working with people and I like to make them feel better. I especially find joy in making children smile. I became a doctor in 1993 after studying for many years at university. I worked in hospitals and general practice for almost 20 years in Australia. Then I moved into medical education, working with all types of health professionals and organisations. I enjoy helping organisations that help others and I have worked with Asthma Foundations and Lung Foundations in Australia. I also enjoy helping to train the doctors of tomorrow and I still do this work today, whenever I am not writing.

What other jobs and interests have you had?

I have worked as a shop assistant, a professional gift-wrapper and even a clown for children’s parties. I have also learnt to play the drums and the guitar and have been a ballroom dancer and a beginner tap dancer!

Do you have any pets?

Yes. We have a tortoiseshell cat, called Zoey, who was rescued by the RSPCA. She loves to play with a brown fluffy ball and jump into boxes and baskets. We also have two Guinea Pigs called Toffee and Marshmallow. Rainbow Lorikeets visit us almost every day on our deck. One of them is so tame it sometimes hops into our kitchen. We call it Lori.

How do you come up with ideas for writing?

Whenever ideas come to me I stop and scribble them down. Or if I see something I will take a picture of it or ask someone if I can cut out an article in a magazine or paper. I collect all these snippets in a box, with labels grouping the ideas together. My labels say things like ‘Lizards’, ‘Music’, ‘Sleepy’ and ‘Farms’. I have done this for many years, so when I start on a new story I go to my ideas boxes and sift through for inspiration to begin.

Which professional writing bodies are you a member of?

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Book Links Qld, Write Links and Queensland Writers’ Centre.