It was never my intention to write a children’s book.
In February when I pressed the publish button and released my time travelling immortal pug into the world, I reflected on my journey and realised how much Out on the Page had shaped the trajectory of my writing.
I joined Out on the Page in 2018, after having had my first success when a piece of flash fiction was accepted for Indivisible, a CommonWord anthology and I was keen to pursue flash as the home for my future writing.
Everything changed on a rainy Thursday night in Manchester at one of Out on the Page’s Cafe Casuals.
Colin, a poet, had received a request from a friend’s daughter to write a story about his grandfather clock which held some fascination for her. Completely out of his comfort zone and lacking in confidence to undertake the task, we all started throwing ideas around to encourage Colin to grant the child’s wish for a story.
Next morning an idea for a short story took hold of me. I wrote the story then more ideas came along and it turned into the book I published in February with the help and guidance of Helen Dale’s Going Direct: Self Publishing Workshop.
Since then, I have started to write the second book in ‘Dulum’s Dog Days’ trilogy and have outlined the plot for the third book.
In addition to holding space and time to write, Out on the Page has supported me in so many ways.
After meeting the wonderful and talented Kevin Walker at online events we are in the early stages of collaboration as writer / illustrator, now that the illustrator for Pugdulm is no longer able to journey with me for the second and third books. I am very excited about working with Kevin.
The setting for the next book is a forest and James McDermott’s Queer Nature Poetry Course last October will really help me to bring my imaginary forest to life.
I speak from experience when I say that so many amazing opportunities come to us from other organisations for us to share with you all.
February was a busy month and I was lucky enough to be granted one of the bursary places offered to Out on the Page for the Children’s Writing Festival.
I attended Piers Torday’s workshop. Not only did the content provide me with knowledge and processes which will help me to really enrich the writing in my next books, what really resonated during this workshop was potentially how lonely the reading experience for an LGBTQ+ child can be.
During the workshop we were invited to think and discuss the books of our childhood and I remembered my struggle to fit in because I felt so different from the other children and how books became my friends. Out of the hundreds of books I must have read as a child I only met one character who I could identify with - George from the Famous Five.
During his workshop Piers highlighted that 1 in 3 books purchased in the UK were children’s books and following on from that Paul Bradley, our Artistic Director introduced me to the quotes from Russell T Davies where he said that openly gay writers are “still very new” to society and the depiction of gay issues are “rich open territory”.
From the start I have always felt passionate about Out on the Page and raising the profile of the important work we all do as queer writers, which my childhood experience, the above statistic and quote from Russell emphasises.
Sharing my story with you all was important to me to show how beneficial engagement with Out on the Page has been and continues to be to me as a writer.
Hopefully, through working with Out on the Page I can pay this forward to you all as the writers who engage with us.
As the project evolves to meet your changing needs as writers, I am excited at the prospect that we will be engaging with you all on a deeper level and discovering the amazing things that can happen through the powers of engagement.