Stephen Alexander Author of Peter and the Dwarf Planets

Stephen Alexander author of Peter and the Dwarf Planets

Author Stephen Alexander with his book Peter and the Dwarf Planets

 

I had the pleasant opportunity to have a conversation with Stephen Alexander, author of Peter and The Dwarf Planets.

Stephen is married with two small children and heads the Modern Languages department at The Neil Wade School in March. He is a keen cyclist and astronomer.

Stephen had concentrated his efforts in the past writing adult fiction but a desire to write for his son provided the stimulus for Peter and the Dwarf Planets. A question from his son about the stars in the sky was the inspiration for his book. When Stephen himself was a young boy his father a keen amateur astronomer introduced him to the night skies and the celestial objects that populate it, an interest that persists to this day.

Peter and the Dwarf Planets is a beautifully illustrated by  Laura Coppolaro a locally based illustrator. It is a short book ideal for its target audience of four to six year olds, the engaging story is in verse and features a boy and his dad exploring space keenly watched by Matou the ginger cat.

My daughter teaches the book’s target age group and has taken it to share with her class. She thinks it will be ideal for her class of predominantly boys.

Peter and the Dwarf Planets is published by Olympia Publishers.

Hopefully, Peter and his dad will have further adventures to share with his fans both young and old in the future.

The launch of Whittlesey Wordsmiths first collection

Book front cover

Where the Wild Winds Blow

I have been a member of the Whittlesey U3A Creative Writing Group since just after its launch. It has now grown to eleven members and become Whittlesey Wordsmiths. Each month members write a piece mostly a set challenge, each member has a different take on the topic and the result is a diverse mix every time.

We have collected together our efforts and published them as a paperback book and also as an e book with Kindle.

If you fancy a look and maybe place an order here is the link to Whittlesy Wordsmiths site.

https://whittleseywordsmiths.com/

 

 

 

Rudi Jennings

Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey Library

Rudi Jennings with his book The Last Myon at Whittlesey Library

 

A few weeks ago in August I had the opportunity to meet the author Rudi Jennings at Whittlesey library. Rudi is a local author living nearby in Wisbech, at present, he grew up near there. Writing  is fitted around running his pest control business. Rudi draws on his experiences in the personal protection service to give colour and to inform his plots. His first book The Last Myon has  been snapped up and published by Olympia Publishers, a truly remarkable result for a new author. A new book is underway, a stand-alone novel following on from his first.

I was able to ask Rudi how he writes and where his inspiration comes from The Last Myon or to be more precise its first few chapters were the result of a dream. His writing takes the form of, in his words pasting ideas on a storyboard linking the characters piece by piece until the individual characters and their actions form a complete cohesive story. A trip to Tesco’s provided the diversion needed to enable him to resolve a problem with his plot which had dogged him. I suppose, every little helps.

He writes as ideas come to him during the day, recording his thoughts on scraps of paper or emailing them to himself. Breaks and lunchtime provide Rudi with writing opportunities during his working day. Once home from work, the scraps of paper are collected then filed or pasted onto the story board.

Rudi’s first book is an interesting read, the characters we have been introduced to will no doubt grow and develop in future work. There is the implied promise of a series with these characters featuring in the world Rudi has created for us.

Keen that children are encouraged to not only acquire the love of reading and books but also stimulated to write themselves, Rudi has visited local schools to promote this message. He is hoping that children become inspired to record their thoughts, share their experiences and  tell the stories within them.

The Siren by Alison Bruce

Book cover of The Siren by Alison Bruce

The Siren by Alison Bruce

I never thought that retirement would be so time consuming. The thought that my twilight years would stretch in front of me unfilled allowing me time to read, watch films, write and generally idle away my time seem far from the reality.

Finally I have found the time to read The Siren, the second in the Gary Goodhew series of novels. Although Cambridge Blue was excellent, a brilliant first novel,  I think The Siren is even better. As with Cambridge Blue the book is set in my part of the world many of the places and the landscape of the fens are familiar to me, though I must admit not Mill Road Cemetery. Up to the very end I was left guessing. I shall be buying the next in the series, The Calling or adding it to my Christmas list for Santa’s attention.

 

 

The start of autumn

Autumn leaves

A start to autumn a first fall of leaves

Winter is seldom welcome however autumn with its beautiful paint box colouring the leaves of trees in red, golds and browns is another matter entirely. Autumn never starts on a particular day we try to box it with dates but it comes and goes to suit itself. The corn harvest in the country seems to occur with the last of summer, whilst the blackberry and apple crops seem to coincide with the first hints of autumn, for me autumn starts with the browning of leaves. I was walking my son’s dog in our Lattersey Nature Reserve and found an early first fall of brown leaves starting to cover the ground. Autumn can stay for a while but it needn’t hurry away to let winter in, not on my account anyway.

Joyce

I wrote this piece as an entry for a flash fiction competition. A member of our writing group asked me if it was autobiographical, apart from the reference to Jimmy Mack all of it is the product of my imagination.

 

Do girls still dance around their handbags? Wondering, seeing again, remembering fondly the long-legged girls of my teens… Joyce would dance around her handbag with girlfriends in a circle, or sometimes in a line, to Jimmy Mack or Heatwave. All I could manage was a slow cuddle around the dance floor with her as When a Man Loves a Woman played. My efforts to dance more energetically or remotely in time with the music, were a lost cause.

Joyce was petite, pretty, bubbly, kind, and altogether lovely; I couldn’t believe my luck when she agreed to go out with me. We were together for a few months after leaving school – both fifteen. Joyce worked in a grocer’s shop; I was an apprentice car mechanic.

Joyce was adopted. The relationship with her adoptive parents wasn’t good; boyfriends weren’t allowed to visit her home.

One dark Friday night Joyce disappeared. There was no trace of her after that.

It left me heartbroken. The only information I had was that she had been seen at the station boarding a London train alone, with just a suitcase. A letter from her arrived a month later, apologising for the sudden departure and saying she would be in touch when things had sorted themselves out. There was no return address.

I heard nothing more, and a year later Rose entered my life. We fell in love and married – and were happy until Rose died suddenly last year.

I turned Joyce’s new letter over in my hands, wondering what to do next. Fifty years is a long wait to get in touch. Now it is my turn to pack a suitcase and catch a train to London. Perhaps in a few days we will return together, there is a lot to talk about.

 

 

Some of you may not be familiar with Jimmy Mack.

The Now Near Daily Weekend Treat

Before I retired and before our dog died from old age, the weekends, most weekends would see Sophie and I at the nearby Whittlesey’s Lattersey Nature reserve. Sophie was a lovely old girl with a lot of black collie in her heritage, a rescue dog, she was clever, loving and funny.

During the working week my wife would give Sophie her daily walk but at the weekends it was my turn. This man and his dog would wander round the two parts of the reserve, Sophie running around not normally venturing too far away from my side, except sometimes to unsuccessfully chase the odd rabbit. Now and again she would have a swim in one of the ponds but it wasn’t a regular event. Sophie’s death put an end to my weekend treats, her ill health had limited and ended them a while before. Having no reason to visit the nature reserve, I seldom ventured into its confines. Sophie’s absence was not only something we felt in our home but something more profound than that.

Sophie

Sophie our old dog

Just over a year ago my son and his girlfriend adopted a golden Labrador pup, Hugo. We participate in a dog share during the working week. Monday to Thursday, my wife and I look after Hugo. He is a character, about sixteen months old, still full of puppyish naughtiness and bounding with energy. Most days we go to the nature reserve for one of his twice daily walks.

Young Hugo

A young Hugo

We usually start on the right hand side of the reserve entering through the galvanised metal kissing  gate into the reserve. Before us a large field fenced on the right hand side to accommodate grazing cattle. We walk  along a mud track worn into the grass, to the left rough grass edged by trees, falling away into a dip. Moving down the track, Hugo enthusiastically exploring new smells, pulling on his lead his tail wagging constantly.. The grass, mainly uncut is often still  damp from the night the air full of wet leaved earthy smells. The field path ends at, the reserve’s boundary, marked by a hedge of Birch trees, Elder and Hawthorn bushes. The reserve is higher at this point, originally brick workings, then a refuse tip. Turning left, the track descends a slope then joins a raised board walk, about a foot from the ground which is prone to winter flooding. The ground is dry in the summer months the reeds and rushes flourishing. Alongside the slope are brambles their uneaten fruits available in the late summer and early autumn, an avenue of silver birch flank the board walk. The walkway follows the line of an old railway siding which had served the brickworks, broken willows decay amongst the birches, many perforated by burrowing Goat moth caterpillars. There is little audible bird song most is drowned out by the noise of vehicles at a gravel works and from the railway nearby.

The boardwalk in spring

The Boardwalk in spring

 

The boardwalk in autumn

The Boardwalk in autumn

The walkway planking is topped with wire mesh to prevent slipping, to our left is a pool of open black water, much of it filled with reed and rushes, these die back brown for the winter. A few red dragonflies skim about as we walk, one foolhardily lands on the decking in front of us, Hugo fortunately doesn’t notice it, he eats them. During the autumn around the boardwalk the leaves of the trees and bushes, are a riot of brown and gold.  Later in the autumn any greenery left is mainly from grass. brown leaves, predominantly hawthorn and birch form thick carpets in places. We leave the boardwalk ascending rough steps in the slope that are edged with old railway sleepers. Following another track through more brambles before ascending another set of steeper narrower steps back to near our starting point, then through the gate crossing to the left hand part of the nature reserve.

Ducks and Coots on the big pond

Ducks and Coots on the big pond

We enter by a kissing gate and descend wide  steps cut into the slope edged by old railway sleepers. This part of the reserve has a larger cleaner pond, another former clay pit, home to ducks coots and the occasional visiting Canada Goose. At times we have witnessed fights by both ducks and coots in the water. If there are no young coots or ducklings around, Hugo likes a swim retrieving the sticks I throw for him. When either he or I have tired of the activity we resume our walk round the reserve. There is no boardwalk network this side of the reserve just one across an area that becomes waterlogged in the winter months. The paths are of rough earth  worn into the ground through constant use. Leaving the pond area the reserve splits into woodland on the left and grass and scrub and bushes to the right. If the sun is particularly hot we stick to the shade of the woodland. retracing our steps when we reach the end before returning home. On cooler days we leave by a gate at the top and walk the long way home along the roads.

.

 

Nicholas C. Rossis

Award-winning, dream-protecting author

Nicholas C. Rossis

Dream-protecting author

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