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I retired (early) and decided to start a new career as a writer. I wrote short stories and articles. Some were published; some won prizes; some sank without trace.
Having heard my stories, two friends suggested I should write for children. I’d never thought of that – although I’d spent my first career communicating with young people – as a Chemistry teacher, and running clubs for badminton, chess, table tennis and hillwalking.
I tried writing for young people – and I loved it. It became my main occupation. I sent samples to publishers. One asked to see a complete story. In excitement, I sent it off. Then nothing. After four months, I rang, and was told the manuscript was being considered: I would be notified. Then more nothing. Now, after eight years, I no longer rush to the door when the letter box rattles.
But I just kept writing the stories because I enjoyed it so much. Until, in late 2013, I learned that I could publish my stories and games as e-books. Since then, I’ve been polishing and issuing some of them. I hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
TROUBLESHOOTERS: My friends’ advice reminded me of a story I’d started years before – about an Earth boy who became an agent of the Galactic Federation because he could sense the minds of the people of other planets. I started the story again, giving the boy a new name, Tony, and a girl companion, his cousin Bea, hoping that girls would like to read about her. Now they’ve had adventures on more than fifty planets – in abandoned cities and busy towns; in tropical jungles and underground caves; on huge spaceships and desert islands.
INSIDE STORY: What do the Prime Minister and Harry Potter have in common? I’ve never met either of them. I only know about them because I’ve read about them and seen their pictures. That thought led me to devise an incorporator, which lets people visit stories, exploring the places and meeting the people. I gave one to an ordinary boy – Jam Rodger. Now he’s had adventures in more than thirty stories, from Oliver Twist to Alice in Wonderland; from The Wizard of Oz to The Hound of the Baskevilles.
CHARADES: When I was young, we sometimes played Charades at family parties. I liked the idea of combining a story and a puzzle. I wrote my first charades while I was still at school, but the e-book sets are more recent.
DIAGAGS: These started as Centiverbals – jokes written as dialogues of exactly 100 words, including the title. I wrote them to keep most of the Hillwalking Club amused at social evenings while two or three ladies prepared the cup of tea for the interval. That didn’t work: the ladies wanted to join in.