It all started as a bit of a joke. I love to read to my grandkids when they stay over. I read out loud and they quickly fade under the lilting (or boring) tones. This was part of the inspiration for writing Pog, I wanted a book I could read to them.
So when my daughter joked about recording my voice, I nibbled and then bit. Now I’m addicted to the task. First version was easy. But then I noticed the breathing noises. Can’t have breathing. Then the mouth pops. Who knew I I couldn’t speak without being so noisy?
Then, I recorded three chapters over in Wales. They sounded good, possibly the best I had done, but they also sounded … different. The whole timbre and tone was not the same as recording in my office.
I decided to press on and come back to them later, but they kept niggling. So four weeks on and am still cutting the first chapters. I have bought a new microphone.
The internet is full of articles about microphone techniques. Some say get really close to the microphone to cut out the room echo.
Others say back away from the microphone to get rid of the mouth pops. I suspect it is one of those things professionals get to learn.
Another said fill the room with soft cushions, whilst one said they recorded with a blanket draped over them.
I tried the blanket thing. One, it gets hot and two, it is impossible to control a mouse a keyboard and read from a screen whilst fighting a blanket!
I have almost got the first half dozen chapters done now. I am putting them on a page on my website. Will I make it through … I honestly don’t know. It takes me around an hour to do a thousand words. It will be a long haul. But getting obsessed with getting it right sometimes helps …
Try them at
Started playing around with ideas. Hoping to create a kind of Aesop’s fables. Tales that aren’t too long for a single telling and hopefully carry a moral that can be discussed.
Shirl the Smith is possibly the only book ever written in Serenia. It is the tale of a girl expected to become a warrior, but instead becomes a Smith and travels the world of Shudalandia.
Once the first full draft of Amara’s Destiny is complete, I hope to take ‘How Shirl Became A Smith’ all the way to a released short story. Certainly this should be before Christmas.
Is this really Shirl in the picture? At the moment, I’m not sure. I am doodling a few characters, but I think this is close. Maybe she’ll start off with thinner arms and legs and bulk up as the book progresses.
Amara? Is coming together really well. I have a beginning, middle and end. Nail-biting, tear-jerking and hopefully a couple of big surprises.
Of course Narnia is recognised as poorly veiled Christian theology. However, it was many years before I became aware of this and by then, I loved the stories sufficiently to forgive this indiscretion.
Pog isn’t the same. Yes, it has a spiritual underpinning, but rather than offering answers, Pog is intended to promote questions.
My intention were:
(a) to write a really good story with a young boy as the protagonist. So shoot me, I have seven grandsons, I wanted each and every one of them to imagine the story was written about them.
(b) To write something that could, (if a parent/ guardian/ care giver/ teacher, wanted to,) be used to discuss spiritual ideas. Is it really a surprise that the amour is faith? I don’t believe this is a concept tied to a specific religion, but should work for any.
To make up for having a boy protagonist, I did create Jazz. This crazy little girl turned into my favourite female character. She really wasn’t meant to play such a big part. Brad was the captain, Sal the juggler/ thrower of things and Jazz would be there to run as needed. How hard can that be?
But once she was on the page, she got cheeky. Being closest in age to Pog, she got him into trouble. From the point where she crashed out of her parent’s house she demanded more attention. So, I think I ended up with a sufficiently strong female in the tale to balance it out nicely.
Over the next few weeks I hope to reveal some of the things readers might not have spotted.
I am so bad at the marketing awareness thing. A couple of lovely reviews posted in March and I have only just checked them.
Pog and the King’s Armour is my first children’s book. Although it is for children, it is really aimed at anybody who loved Narnia books.
It is so good to get a review where somebody really does like reading what I have created. More than makes my day. Thank you!
The games in Pog are memories of games we played on the street outside our homes. The looming monument in the centre of Stanton is the Corona cinema on the corner of Radstock road. Looking at the black and white picture of the cinema in its hey-day, I find it hard to believe how those steps towered above me. The guardian at the top peered down on the line of children below.
Each child stood frozen, waiting for the chance to edge closer. The guardian at the top of the steps had to turn their back and cover their face. After a short count they could then turn around and try to spot somebody moving.
From tea-time to bed-time the evening flew past. To a dozen kids, the steps of the closed-down cinema were our playground.
Part of what I wanted to create with Pog was the pleasure of playing games, physical games where the players jostled for position; ran jumped and froze. We didn’t have goddesses gleaned from mythology. We had big sisters and younger brothers. Some grew too old to want to play, others came and went.
Those steps, that time – magical.
I am rapidly approaching the launch of my children’s book:
Pog and the King’s Armour.
As well as being a departure from my normal fantasy realms, it is a genuinely important book for me.
Over the next few weeks, I want to blog a little about Pog and how the story developed.
So where did Pog come from?
Back in 2014 I came off my motorcycle and mashed my shoulder muscles. The surgeon did a great job of putting me back together, but that meant I had to rest and gradually strengthen my arm. So, instead of our usual Greek holiday riding a scooter all over the place, I had to sit by the pool and rest.
I watched the kids. Most of them were more interested in going back to their rooms to play games on their phones, ipads and tablets. They had no interest in the playground near the pool. I listened to exasperated parents pleading with them to ‘Just stay outside for a time.’
I started trying to plot a world where games were more important. A place where everybody had to play them. Not computer games, but games involving physical movement.
I then needed a boy to take into my new world.
Perry was born.
A great kid who loved his grandmother, loved visiting her and loved playing in the woods.
The brakes went on and the sound effect of a needle scratching across the record played in my head. How boring was this?
Boom, Perry vanished and Pog appeared.
He hated outdoors, hated being at gran’s and really disliked activity.
Meet Peregrin Otis Grimshaw. This was a kid I could write a story about!