Not sure you’re ready to subscribe to my free newsletter? Keep reading to find examples of what I’ll send you, and remember you can unsubscribe anytime.
I thought I’d tell you a bit about how I came to write Moth Boy. It’s quite personal.
I was fostered in a loving family for my first 4 years and didn’t find out until I was 16. Back then it was deeply shameful to have a child before you were married. We also have a family member who found us all when he was a grown up. He’d been adopted just after the 2nd World War. We knew nothing about him until he was nearly 50. His mum had been forced to have him adopted and to keep his existence a secret.
Family secrets are brilliant starting points for stories.
After university I worked in children’s homes. Like Ches some of these children didn’t know where they had ‘come’ from. I remember a boy who I took on cycle rides. He had brown skin like Ches and didn’t know his parents. If I had been older and wiser, I may well have adopted him. I felt bad about leaving him. Years later I bumped into him selling ‘pearl’ necklaces in the street at Xmas. He told me proudly about his partner and children. He was a happy, healthy young man – loving and lovable. I was so chuffed.
I have also worked for Social Services with some adults who found life very difficult. One of these men feared finding an abandoned baby in his dustbin – that stayed with me. Have you read Jacqueline Wilson’s Dustbin Baby which has been televised?
Ches is a lucky boy who has a loving adoptive mum. But he has a shadow with him – he thinks he isn’t good enough because he was abandoned on a doorstep.
I wanted him to begin to discover for himself that he is lovable, he is good enough. No families are perfect. It can be easy for children (and adults) to think their own family situation is worse than everyone else they know. I have felt like this myself at different times.
I now know that some of the challenges we have can make us more understanding of others, wiser, stronger, passionate about life and be a great resource for creativity. Could that be true in your life too?
When I was a child, I read under the duvet by torchlight way past my bedtime. I have kept some of those books – they are delicious treasures reminding me of exciting adventures, tears, laughter and a quickening heartbeat.
Writing stories, more than reading or even acting, is like having twice the amount of life – 2 families, 2 pairs of eyes, 2 sets of emotions, experiences, history and interests. You also get to re-live, re-use elements of your life experience and turn it into something new. It is huge fun and very rewarding work.
With hindsight I see I could have started earlier if I’d been more confident about earning my keep, but then I wouldn’t have had all these experiences to draw upon.
Funnily enough my school motto was ‘better late than never’ (very handy when handing in late homework), and handy for me as a late developer in many ways!☺
During the pandemic I put my mind and time to publishing one of the many stories I have written – Moth Boy. I started on the journey of self-publishing whilst also sending it to a few publishers and agents. The Book Guild said yes, they’d like to publish Moth Boy. It’s a long process of making the story I wrote into a physical book to be read by torchlight under a duvet.
Ssssh… I won’t tell.
Now I have just written Circus Tricks (working title). It’s the story of how baby Ches came to be on that doorstep in a plastic bag. Lots of other stories to come – some for younger children. I’ve written an adult novel too – Paper and Stone. Now that was a lot of writing!
Here’s a fave book from my childhood and a more recent one…
101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith
The parent dogs were always so alert, attentive, brave and loving. I found that comforting as a child.
The Happiness of Kati by Jane Vejjajiva
This book is a best seller in Thailand. It is about a 9 year-old girl living with her grandparents. I sensed the fragrances, the water, the food of Thailand as the story of this amazing girl is told clearly and beautifully.
I’d love to hear about your favourite book(s) that made you stay reading beyond ‘lights out’ time. What has stayed with you about it? Was it a feeling, a character, the setting, a surprise or something else?
And if you want to send me one of your stories to read – I’d love that.