My Self Publishing Journey - Penguins and Cowpats
'Squidged behind a table in the corner and facing foggywindows, sits a hard-boiled penguin devouring a plate full of scrambled eggs and mackerel. He’s a ‘King’ penguin, so shorter than an ‘Emperor’ but stout with a sharp beak and orange fur at the back of his neck which closely resembles a collar. Meet Frank, the only bird in town wearing a beige crumpled rain mac and chocolate coloured fedora – the hat of choice for any true detective (his coat looks a shade too big and the hat’s tilted too far back, but he’s never been one for fashion)'
My debut novel - The City That Barks And Roars - tells the tale of two bickering detectives on the hunt for a missing panda. Grumpy Frank Penguin and plucky young chimp, Chico Monkey, hit the streets of Noah's Kingdom to unravel the mystery - but not before long the stakes are raised and a race against time ensues to save the city from doom.
I see it as a mix of Kipling and Chandler - it's crime noir but animals instead of Humphrey Bogart !! Which personally, I think it is a pretty cool idea?! Sure - there's a million stories about talking animals, but few pitched to a slightly older audience like mine, so I feel it's kinda unique in that sense. Originally I approached literary agents plugging it as a middle grade story, but I genuinely think it's an enjoyable read for anyone 10 and above. It's similar to Watership Down in the sense that it's fine for tweenies, but there are certainly darker moments and use of language that make it inappropriate for younger children!!
My grand plan at the beginning was actually to pen a book for smaller kids - even a picture book - about my character Frank Penguin. However, once I was set loose my mind ran wild and I spiralled out of control - introducing alcohol, guns, foul language, murder!! Unintentionally, I was creating a 'Tarantino For Toddlers' novel - which really wasn't going to work, and unlikely to be popular with agents!!! So I reigned in my natural urge to make things dark and grim, I re-wrote it, and I produced something more fun and light hearted - bordering on YA.
But how did I arrive at this point?? Was this my first attempt to write story?! Not at all !!
I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my early efforts. I've always wanted to see what Roald Dahl and JK Rowling wrote as children, and so below is some of my stuff (that is not me putting myself in the same league as The Dahl and Rowling!!). I think it's interesting to see how authors develop!!
'There Just Tales' and of course, the much loved 'Castle Gang And Devil 3: Bad Morda Returns'. Apparently I was 6 years old when I wrote these, which may not come as much surprise given the state of them...but is evidence that even at such a young age, I was already whipping up peculiar stories in my mind!! The top one was actually a number of short ghost stories - my first short story collection!! And 'The Castle Gang'...ummm, even now I have no idea quite that is about.....But, who knows - I may return to it one day for the long awaited 4th and final part. Bad Morda: The Reckoning ?!
Here we have, yes, The Singing Cowpats - my first ever story!! (Peaked too soon?!?!)
Not sure I've written anything as deep, meaningful and amusing as this since
Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel - Bird had the singing cowpats...
Alongside that is Thin Grin and Hero Pig, part 5?! But my first attempt at crime fighting talking animals!! Aged 6 still. I'm certain this was a result of my obsession with 80s kids tv smash hit - Dogtanian and the Muskehounds!! Which may also sub-consciously have inspired my debut novel. It's clear that I developed a love for stories with animals, even as a cheeky nipper.
In the middle is my guide to Yeti's and Monsters - which is quite similar to what Ricky Gervais released a few years back, though he was slightly older when he created his monsters!! One of the yeti's I found is made entirely from heads - yes, legs made from heads, arms made from heads, chest a giant head - i'm surprised my mother never had me sectioned....
Knightshade (woo snazzy name) - 'presented by James Bird' is an early attempt at fantasy.
War of the Warriors is an epic tale about the worlds greatest warriors coming together to decide the champion. Surely I came up with a catchy badass name for the main character right??? Ummm...his name is Zac, from Kettering....#fail
And finally, we have the inspiration from Frank Penguin - in the form of Ally Penguin, a private detective. Who would have thought that nearly 30 years after I wrote this little story and drew these whacky pictures - that I would still be writing about heroic penguins!! My respect for flightless birds has never waned!!