Pen, Pooch and Prosecco

Her big brown eyes stare up at me …

It’s 6 0’clock in the evening and I’m sitting at my typewriter tapping away at my third book for children, enjoying my second glass of Prosecco, and looking out at a gentle swell on the north sea at South Shields. All the letters on my keyboard have vanished like magic – tapped away into the ether with trillions of words, my husband Peter says I should replace it - but I like familiar things around me. And talking of familiar things, at my feet sits our gorgeous golden Cockapoo puppy, Charlie, who by the way, is a girl - but that’s another story. Her big brown eyes stare up at me - if only she could speak the stories she might tell! - especially when she jumps into our bed, lies right between us and gives us the sloppiest kisses and face-wash anyone could wish for at 5. 0’clock in the morning!

If only all writing experiences were as blissful as this. I have been writing full-time for seven years now – and it has become an all-consuming passion. My husband Peter, who is sitting on the other computer looking at classic cars and dreaming, initially saw the whole writing thing as ‘Just a bit of fun,’ and, I’m gritting my teeth as I type this, a hobby! And I remember walking along the beach in South Shields not so long ago, when he suddenly came out with ‘You know Yvonne, this is more than just a hobby – you’re a really serious writer.’ As you can imagine I had very mixed emotions the strongest of which involved a frying pan and his head, but, well, let’s be generous, at last he was on my side!

I have set my stories along the stunning coastline and rivers here in the north east, where it is so easy to imagine colourful characters taking a magical journey - such a bewitching part of the world! It’s where Peter, Charlie and I can be found most days breathing in the salty sea air, walking over the Leas towards the rock pools where Charlie will insist on getting herself soaked like a big sponge - I love sharing this joy with children and letting them into the secret that the beach near where they live is where all the magic stardust is hidden! But never did I imagine when I was thinking about the storyline, the characters chattering merrily away inside my head, that Windy’s Way would become a physical route. It wasn’t until sometime later Peter took out a map and said ‘Hey - this is an actual route children and families can follow right up to the Angel of the North!’ that the real magic started to happen. You see, dreams do come true, you just have to close your ears to all the naysayers, work your socks off – and believe, that’s been my mantra and, (roll of drums please!) to my eternal gratitude and delight, local schools began snapping up Lily, Windy and the Witch, the first book in the series. I’ve got a huge lump in my throat as I write this; to know that children are enjoying a magical story, perhaps laughing with Windy the fairy when, because she is dyslexic, she gets all her spells wrong, or feeling excited and a little scared as Demeanor the Queen of all Vampires and Witches casts her latest wicked spell, is the beautiful magic that keeps me dreaming, believing - and writing. Some schools have even hired coaches to cover the whole route whilst others just do sections, and if you’ve ever seen a six foot tall dog with floppy ears and straggly tail leaping out of the bushes (accompanied by squeals of delight from the children!) near The Weebles in South Shields, that’ll be my husband dressed up as Slobberchops! Poor Peter has had his ears and tail tugged so many times by the excited children, (not to mention the occasional teacher joining in the fun!) they are practically falling off!

These moments when we laugh together make it all worthwhile, but Oh! - What a roller-coaster ride! As I said, Peter thought writing a book was only going to be a few hours on the odd wet Sunday afternoon – little did he know! When writing is at the heart of you, you have to write, and this is really important for anybody writing a book to know if they have a partner because they need to be the kind of person who fully understands this and supports them – especially if the writer is someone like me, full of passion, joy, and optimism – who is also (whisper it - I have been known to blub like a baby) hugely over- sensitive to criticism – even when it’s constructive and fully justified! He or she needs to be the kind of person who will put up with having their ears and tail being pulled all day – and later, as you moan about your long hard day writing, smile sweetly as they hand you a glass of Prosecco!

Where did it all start for me? Well, I had a pretty awful childhood. I woke up one morning when I was eleven to find my mother had left home, and shortly after I was put on a coach with complete strangers, going to a council run boarding school in Reading. Only I didn’t know that – I hadn’t the foggiest idea where I was going. My father simply dropped me off at the coach stop saying I was going to a new home, which according to his description was some kind of Disneyland paradise. That kind of experience as you might imagine, has the imagination running wild. And at night lying in bed in a cold bleak dormitory, I would escape into my fantasy world creating stories and magical creatures who became loyal friends, and sometimes I would write those stories down in my secret book hidden under my pillow. Writing was a release, a happy escape for me, and then as now although my characters often have a scary time, all my stories have a happy ending – or the potential for a happy ending. Why not write life as you would wish it to be?

Through all my writing now, I let children know that although the world, real or imagined, can sometimes be very scary, the magic they read about is also the magic they have inside them, and if they haven’t yet found it, then one day they will – you just have to believe, in the magic of YOU!
And talking of believing - what do I believe in? I believe the pen might be mightier than the sword, but, (like right now!) Prosecco is mightier than the pen. And Charlie who has just jumped on my lap to lick my hand, my face, my wine glass, obviously agrees with me! – Cheers! – Hic! I hope you will like what you read here and join me on my writing journey. I would like to share with you my experiences constructing stories, including pulling together ideas and getting people on board to work with me on things like writing synopsis (blog 5) and editing, marketing and design on my white-knuckle roller-coaster ride to self-publishing. But more about that in my next post – including a very dodgy meeting with a London agent!

Welcome new friend, to my very first posting. PPP signing off – Hic!

To get a flavour of the books and our work with children and schools it would be wonderful if you would like to visit my website