Before the writing came the drawing. My Father teaching me, aged three, to draw a pram whilst sitting in my high chair in Grandma’s kitchen. It was a distraction from the noise of aircraft, sirens etc., because we lived only metres from Leeds Town Hall during World War Two.
Then it was the reading and haunting Leeds Lending Library for Enid Blyton books. Next it was dashing home after school to see my School Friend comic with its bounty of adventures.
My drawing had progressed to painting when Dad taught me to decorate plates. I was an only child but never lonely or bored, not enough hours in the day to do all I wanted to do.
I dearly wished in my early teens to attend the Leeds College of Art, but Mum and Dad couldn’t afford to send me.
I married into the Royal Air Force to be the wife of a navigator and had two wonderful children. The separations were numerous in my early marriage, but we wrote love letters to one another and I bless the fact that we had none of today’s technology – not even a telephone. And so, that is really when I began my writing.
Twenty years later, when my first grandchild was due, I joined a writing course specifically with children in mind. I stayed for fifteen years, making many friends, had a wonderful published author to teach me, and so the writing adventure began in earnest.
I wrote thousands of words, articles, poetry etc… And I still hand-write letters to friends!
My tutor encouraged me to write a book for eight to twelve year olds, which centred on evacuees during the Second World War. Although I was never evacuated myself, I knew all about the subject.
Then I found Olympia Publishers and, thanks to them, the next chapter in my life began in earnest.
Operation Pied Piper, my first book, flew from my hand as easily as the illustrations which I included – but I had been taught properly.
Writing for children is a special technique and demands special attention. The sequel, Operation Dynamo, was a joy to write – the illustrations also. But both books demanded accurate research of course.
My next project is to write a small anthology of poems for children. Some naughty words included, of course – children love the odd mildly rude word.
Now in my eightieth year, I rejoice in the early encouragement which I had from my Father all those years ago and also from my family at present. Dad always said:
‘Believe in yourself and your abilities but most of all be honest and enjoy yourself’.
My thanks go to Olympia and my very best wishes to all potential writers and their dreams.
– Jean Daish