It started with a kiss . . .
Actually, it didn’t start like that at all. That would just have been weird. In reality my career as an author started with an illness.
Hmmm . . . that’s not nearly as romantic as a kiss and, frankly, at least on a par in the weirdness stakes. But that’s how it was. Sort of.
I’d been writing creatively since I was a child, enjoying school story projects and making my own comics (four pages, two editions a year – Marvel were not worried). But as I got older and had a child myself – a little girl called Eilidh – I decided to give writing for kids a whirl. I dabbled unsuccessfully in fantasy novels to begin with – never reaching beyond the fourth chapter before being distracted by another idea for a story and moving on to another unfinished masterpiece.
But then I fell ill. A nasty, persistent cough. Tired all the time. Trip to the GP, sent for an x-ray, called in quickly to see a non-bush beating consultant. Didn’t look good. Very high chance it could be lymphoma. Lung biopsy required to confirm. Gulp.
And so I found myself lying in a hospital bed waiting to be wheeled into theatre for the biopsy. And, in a typically melodramatic moment of self-pity, I decided that, if worst came to worst and all was lost, then I had to have something to pass on to my little girl to remember me by. Something special, just from me to her. I know – bring on the soaring violins. I could get an Oscar for this! But that’s how my first book, My Dad, was born. As it happened I didn’t have lymphoma (it was a much less nasty condition called sarcoidosis) but I did have a book. It was published in 2008 with my second, The Tickle Tree, following in 2009.
And then came my third, and most popular, book – The Loon On The Moon.
I suppose Loon is probably my favourite (but don’t tell the other books), so when I was first contacted by Living Paintings to tell me about their plan to turn it into a Touch To See book I was, well, over the moon! Of course these things don’t happen overnight, so I’d almost forgotten about the project until one day around a month or so ago a large packet was delivered to my house. Mysterious, I thought as I shook, prodded, squeezed and sniffed the parcel. But little could prepare me for was held within.
When I opened it and pulled out the book I was quite literally speechless. For a long time I slowly and silently turned the pages, running my fingers over the beautifully modelled, hand painted mouldings of the various characters from the book. I followed the raised bumps of the transparent plastic braille sheets that overlaid the words inside, marveling that children and parents would be able to read the book by touch alone and see Emily Golden’s beautiful illustrations by feeling the wonderfully tactile mouldings. I was utterly flabberboozled by the whole thing. It was just so perfectly presented and delightfully rendered. A wonderful gift from the charity to the children and parents who will hopefully get the chance to enjoy it for years to come.
It is such an honour that Loon On The Moon was chosen to be turned into a Touch To See book and I am humbled that, through Living Paintings’ superb work, a small corner of my little Loon world will be opened up to those who may not have been able to experience it as fully without the special “added extras”.
So thank you Living Paintings — may you continue to spread joy and imagination to children everywhere.
To watch Chae talking about our adaptation of Loon on the Moon click here
Before I go, I was asked to answer a couple of questions about the Loon On The Moon. So, very quickly, here goes . . .
- My favourite planet is Venus – because that is my daughter’s middle name! She’s 13, so she refuses to tell anyone this, but I think she’ll grow to like it when she’s older.
- If I had to name a new star I would call it . . . Zinglebert Poopwoggle, just so I could hear Professor Brian Cox forced to say it on TV on one of his space shows.
- I would most like to meet the Moptops from Mercury because they look like fun guys. Get the Singdings from Saturn over to provide the music and we could partaaayyy! Whoop!
- I get my inspiration for my books from all around. From things I see in the street, snatches of overheard conversations, articles I read in newspapers, weird words that pop into my head, from quiet moments of contemplation and tiny eureka brainwaves in busy cafes. Top tip: Keep your eyes, ears and imagination open at all times and make sure your story antenna are always fully extended.
Goodbye . . . and happy reading!