This week I caught up with Frank English who has published the ‘Magic Parcel Trilogy: The Awakening; The Gathering Storm’ and soon to be released ‘A New Dawn’. Frank has also published a book aimed at a younger audience (and) his latest children’s book ‘18 Mulberry Road’. Frank talks about the books and the inspiration behind them…
So Frank, tell me about the Magic Parcel Trilogy. What are the books about?
This is a fantasy adventure story about a nine year old boy’s adventures on new worlds throughout his periods of growing up. He is sent to Omni by his Uncle Reuben for an adventure or two, and becomes deeply involved with the fight against evil in ways no nine year old ever should. Exciting, moving and funny are all epithets which should spring to mind when you read these books. The book is fantastically illustrated throughout by Chaz Wood which makes vivid reading. I would say that my books are intended for anyone who has a shred of imagination from 10 to 80 years of age.
And what about 18 Mulberry Road?
This is the fantastic story of the adventures of the ‘Twitcherlys’, a family of sparrows who live in a knotty old oak tree in a large suburban garden. They include Mother, Father and two boys called Furtive and Fearless, named so by David, the five year old who lives at number 18. They have wonderful adventures which everyone who has read the book agrees are delightful. It is copiously illustrated in full colour throughout by talented Cumbrian artist Pauline Henderson. I would say the intended reading audience is aged 5 to 10 years.
Where did your inspiration come from when writing the books?
I have always enjoyed writing from age eight in primary school. I had a teacher who inculcated in us a love of ‘creative writing’ which allowed me to invent exotic places where fantastic characters could do wonderful things. My inspiration for Magic Parcel came about because of a postal strike in the 70s when packages became lost and letters mislaid. I decided at the time, in discussion with the children I taught, that it might be magical if packages could be delivered without human intervention! Thus the concept of the ‘magic parcel’ was born. Mulberry Road came about because my young son, David, used to enjoy watching the antics of the wild birds in our suburban garden. The young birds were named Furtive and Fearless according to how he perceived the behaviour of certain sparrows in the garden.
What would you say your preferred style of writing is?
I use a lot of vivid and detailed description in my stories to help the reader set the action into a particular context. This description doesn’t detract from the action, but enhances it, painting a rich tapestry upon which the characters can play. I use also lots of personification to bring inanimate objects to life, weaving a halo of vibrancy and life around the whole story. Depending on the story and of course the audience, I tend to intertwine the actions and adventures of several characters throughout, which I believe allows the reader to become involved with action on different fronts at the same time.
What made you choose 2QT as a publisher?
I had bemoaned for a long time that publishing companies did not seem to live beyond Manchester. Having seen an advert in the Lancaster Guardian in 2009 for this new publishing house called 2QT (strange name!) suggesting what a good idea it would be to publish my book, I was hooked. The rest is a well-known cliché. Catherine Cousins and 2QT have allowed me to fulfil my dreams of having my works in print, and will continue to do so whilst I am able to write.
What advice would you give to those looking to write their own books?
Whilst it is not necessarily correct that ‘everyone has a book in them’, I would suggest it is undoubtedly true that publishing writings of some sort is well within the capability of most. Setting one’s own words to paper, in whatever form, is the most exciting and satisfying thing an individual can do. Seeing it set into covers and placed on a bookshelf, either in one’s own home or amongst others is both overpowering and moving. My advice would be – if you would like to do it and don’t know how, there will always be someone like Catherine Cousins at 2QT to guide you. Help is only a phone call away.
Are you currently working on anything else at the moment?
18 Mulberry Road was always going to be one-off; that is, until the children in the primary schools I have visited saw and read it. They decided it had to be continued into more books. Consequently, I am three chapters into the sequel. This book will not only involve them in story and action direction, but will also involve some of them as characters in the adventures. I am excited about this one. I have already started writing a Victorian historical novel set in the mid to late nineteenth century involving a family of farmers in North Yorkshire, which I plan to continue. I have also started planning a novel based on my life story (names will be changed to protect my innocence, naturally!). This should keep me out of mischief for a short while!
It sounds like you have a lot on your plate! Frank also tells me he has many more ideas for future books which at the moment, are only in early stages –
Once my ideas begin to grow into stories and take on a life of their own, then you’ll need to watch this space.
You can keep up to date with Frank and his writings by visiting his website www.frankenglish.co.uk
Interview by Kate Cousins 2QT Publishing