Having spent years writing for other people and businesses I realised that the thing I actually wanted to do was write children’s stories, having 6 children story telling has always been a huge part of our lives.
The real Nana Troll
One day as I was leaving my mums house with my son Henry, he was five at the time, she gave him a big kiss and as little boys always are, he was totally grossed out as she slobbered on him a bit and as soon as we got outside he dragged the back of his hand over his mouth in disgust and said “Eww! Nana is such a troll” and that was it, I thought yes what a great name and now I had the title I just had to write the stories I remember about my mum and everyone around me when I was young and voilà enter “The Nana Troll ”.
I had always told my 6 children stories about my mum as they were growing up and they always found them entertaining and funny so I saw no reason why other children wouldn’t find them funny and actually other kids love them!
My own childhood was a strange one really we were a large
family, I had 5 brothers and sisters and we lived in France, where I was born, I was born in Fontainebleau and grew up and went to school there till I was about 9 or 10, so I have dual nationality, I’m bilingual and have a French birth certificate and was born from Irish and Welsh parents.
About that time my dad decided I needed a “proper education” so I was packed off to boarding school at park gate on the Wirral in England, nightmare!!
Can you imagine, as a little kid in a warm loving busy household in France to be suddenly packed off to a grey, dark, windy, bleak boarding school on the front of a tidal estuary!
We used to have to wait till the tide went out to do cross country, it was like being in the coldest, most damp awful dickens novel setting….. It was a nightmare!
It was made even worse by the fact I couldn’t read or write until I was 12 or 13 and the headmaster, Mr Grenfell just used to send letters home telling my dad I was ”simple and would never amount to anything” constantly being canned for just about anything!
The problem was I had to translate in my head questions asked in English into French answer in French in my head, translate it back into English, by which time it was usually too late!
Eventually, my grandparents stepped in for a while but that didn’t last more than a year before my dad sent me off to board again.
So quite a traumatic childhood really, however good always comes in the end and my mum and dad divorced and in stepped my lovely stepdad, Bob entered our lives, he was fantastic for a little lad like me, great fun, he taught me to catch trout by tickling them and catch rabbits with a ferret.
We had great summers, I based Bob troll in the stories on him because he was always collecting things and saving them saying ”These will come in useful Mikey” he was about 7 foot tall and Welsh and he spoke so fast no one could understand him, he had a little lurcher dog called Beauty, Beauty used to disappear for a couple of days at a time but if we were going out rabbiting in the fields round about Mold in north wales where we lived, beauty just seemed to know and he would turn up like a will-o-the wisp!
Why personalise my books?
Having had problems with reading as child I know how awful it as, the teasing, the hiding, the embarrassment, it’s cruel and in this day and age it’s just so unnecessary and personalised books given to the smallest of children will spark an interest in books that will never leave them.
Imagine being given a book that not only has your name in it making you the star of the story, but the character even looks like you and to top it all off your photo is inside the book, children receiving a book like this will treasure it and read it over and over again, it will never end up in the discarded pile of unwanted ted books in the corner of their bedroom.
When I visit a school and talk to a classroom full of children the little faces looking back at me are every colour you can imagine and every hair and eye colour, every ethnicity possible, it’s just such a hugely diverse country we live in now and all children deserve to have a book about them and that looks like them, that why the we need more BAME books, inclusivity is another key to good literacy from a young age.
Why the Ruby series?
Well, Ruby is one of my 4 daughters and I started to write the stories for and about her initially to help her through small occurrences in her life, like going to hospital to have an operation and that sort of grew to be a series of stories that allow a grown up and child to sit together to read about and ultimately talk about things that might be difficult, like a first injection or a first trip to the dentist, the series also deals with topics that I think are important for children to have on their radar such as the fact that we are not all the same.
In fact I wrote the “When I Grow Up” story after reading about the terrible treatment of a teacher in a Birmingham school when he started to teach children that not all families are the same, some children have two dads or two mums, it’s important that children don’t have the stereotyping that we had a generation ago, this will help to get rid of bullying in schools and later life as well.
We are all different and that needs to be accepted.
Things to know about me
I still have my old childhood toy cuddly chimpanzee, called Chimp obviously, he was given to me when I was 3 and it’s a minor miracle that I still have him 5 decades later, he got me through some pretty awful times at boarding school, he was always there listening to all my troubles, that’s what favourite toys are for isn’t it ?
I live in Repton in Derbyshire, which is where Roald Dahl went to school, the shop he pinched sweets from is still here!
My favourite belonging is my ring because a long time ago I had to battle the Goblin King to save one of my children and eventually managed to trap him (using magic of course) inside my ring and now it can never leave my hand or the spell will be broken and he will be unleashed once again!
Mmm well my favourite meal is fish and chips from the chippy in Repton.
My favourite films are black and white Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller playing Tarzan, he was the best ever Tarzan and in fact his distinctive Tarzan call has been dubbed over every other actor who has played him, i’m such a fan of Tarzan I even recorded his call off my film collection to use as my ringtone.
He had a pretty big impact on my life actually, along with all the Edgar Rice Burroughs series of Tarzan stories.
My favourite hobby’s are writing, cooking and gardening.
My next favourite books are the Willard Price “adventure” books all about Hal & Roger Hunt who traveled around the world capturing exotic animals for their father, I learned so much about wildlife from these.
I also thought of myself as a bit of a Tarzan as I got older and got up to all sorts of adventures of my own, I can ski and snowboard, I used to go skydiving every Sunday, I got into this after doing my first ever Parachute jump for a charity called the Dianne Fossey Gorilla Fund, I have even abseiled off the Humber Bridge for charity.
I can play the didgeridoo.
I use to ride the fastest road bike ever built. It was a Vmax. Here I have didgeridoo on my back, I was going to play it at the summer solstice at Stonehenge.
My most embarrassing thing ever was about 18 years ago when I was being all cool filming myself skiing and I actually fell and filmed it all rolling over and over for about 5 minutes!
If I ruled the world I would invent an extra day in every week so we would now have 8 days, and the extra day we could all choose to have an extra day working to finish off what we were doing that week or if we were finished we could have it as an extra weekend day… I am looking for submissions of names for the new 8th day!
Who would I most like to spend some time at a dinner party with?
That would be firstly my mum because I loved her to bits and she was my pal but sadly passed away, if she wasn’t available then it would have to be Elvis Presley because we could do karaoke afterwards and he would have to admit I do a better Elvis than him.
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”
New Zealand All Blacks
Mrs Edwards who taught me to read and write