Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Story Behind the Stories

In October of 2011 I finally published a collection of stories featuring the character Anansi The Trickster Spider as an eBook. I say finally because it was in 2003 when I was asked to work on a project to help promote a local cultural venue called Aklowa.


Aklowa was an African village set in the Hertfordshire countryside, within minutes of Stansted Airport. A friend's friend, Felix Cobson, had set it up some twenty years before. Originally born in Ghana Felix moved to the UK and had spent his life teaching children about African heritage. This included traditional clothing, cooking, music, crafts and stories. This is where I came in. I started my writing career writing for craft magazines and I was asked to write a book that would appeal to children about African crafts.


Knowing little about the subject I jumped at the chance to visit Ghana. I spent a wonderful week with friends visiting villages known for their pottery making, Adinkra block printing and Kente strip weaving. I also visited markets and talked to makers of musical instruments and carvers of masks. Based on this trip I created a synopsis for a book and approached The British Museum Press. To my delight they liked the idea and in 2005 they published African Crafts: Fun Things to Make and Do from West Africa.

Now you may be wondering where Anansi came into all this. Well Felix relished in his retelling of the traditional stories featuring the trickster character Anansi. Being a collector of words I scribbled the stories down. Knowing how I enjoyed the stories Felix was kind enough to lend me a couple of books. From these scribbled notes, borrowed books and research, I began to write my own retelling of these stories. As with many such personal projects other things took me away from it. So these stories sat on my computer, almost forgotten. However in the middle of 2011 I had time to return to them. Finally after eight years my collection of Anansi stories was published as an eBook and is now available on Amazon.

Unfortunately I'll never be able to show Felix the fruits of my labour, as he passed away before I had time to complete. However knowing Felix he'll be looking down, with that wonderful broad smile of his, trying to decide which story to treat me to next.

P.S. If you'd like to purchase a copy please click on the relevant flag (top left and top right of this blog) 

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Why Do We Love Them?

One way or another there has always been a dog in my life. Each has had their own unique traits and habits, which have often made me wonder why I love them. Take for example my first dog Mitzi, she was:
  • Extremely fussy about her food
  • If she decided she'd walked enough that was it, she went no further

And yes this is me with Mitzi

Then there was Sally who would only sleep if I rested my hand on her back. This meant each night I fell to sleep with a hand slowly going numb.


After Sally came our yellow ball of fluff Bonny who:
  • Hid chewed, sticky 'treasures' under my duvet
  • Stole sweets and hid them behind the settee
  • Emptied bins when she became annoyed with us (normally when we went shopping)


Then there was Jodi who:
  • Played lets jump through the banisters and land on heads
  • Dragged plants (roots and all) in from the garden through the dog flap
  • Buried clean (they had to be clean) knickers, socks and bras in the back garden
  • Jumped into any car with an open door expecting to be taken for a drive


Then came Tasha (out current canine friend) who:
  • Steals socks, even taking them from the washing machine
  • Takes all the space on the settee
  • Chases anything that runs
  • Believes every ball in the world is hers, even acquiring whilst still being played with
  • Has 'entitlements' and unsutbly tells you when they are due


However there are also habits they have shared including:
  • Leaving footprints on a newly cleaned floor
  • Shaking and splattering mud up clean walls
  • Creating unsavoury odours

So why do we love them? The answer is simple. They are family and whatever they do they get under your skin. And as a writer I have the added bonus that they feed my writing, they are my muse. Take for example my picture eBook Captain and Nugget (available from Amazon UK and Amazon US). Many of the things my canines friends have done appear in this story and without them I'd never have been able to write it.

So I was wondering what has your canine friend done to make you question why you love them?

P.S. If you'd like to purchase a copy of Captain and Nugget either follow the links about or click on the relevant flag.