Wednesday, 2 October 2013


A good diary day today, because a pretty card arrived, signed by all the lovely people of the Stripes Team, aka Little Tiger Press. Thank you, everybody! Today is the official publication day for MOONLIGHT TALES and I have written one of the ten stories. 

MOONLIGHT TALES is a "seasonal anthology". It’s a collection of stories that can be read by grown-ups to five to eight year olds but a book that can also be read by older junior (KS2) children on their own. I have written stories for several of these winter anthologies and always find it a pleasure.

For a start, wintry weather always makes for a wonderful setting, filled with uncertainties. Will it, or won’t it, snow? Will the snow bring peril or pleasure? How dangerous will the dangers be? Will everyone reach journey’s end? And will all the preparations - for whatever kind of feast or event – be done on time? It’s also a season where a writer can include moments of beauty or delight or kindly feelings.

 However, as a writer, there’s also the fun of not knowing what the other stories will be. You know there will be this or that animal. Early on, when you send in an idea or two, the editor will tell you that “owls” or “kittens” have been taken so could you go for your other suggestion. 

But even then, you don’t know what genre that other animal’s story will become. A real-life story? An animal fantasy? A retelling of a tale or legend?  Or more? (No need to be afraid: these collections never include horror and I can’t recall any ghosts either.) While I'm writing the story, I remember the bright faces of the seven and eight year olds I meet on school visits, all eager to tell me about their pets and favourite animals.

There’s a second kind of curiosity about the finished anthology. Being included in these winter anthologies feels like being at a secret party: each anthology will have stories written by authors that I know. 

As soon as my author copies of MOONLIGHT TALES arrived about a fortnight ago, I turned to the index and looked down the list of names.  

Aha! I spot Linda Chapman, Caroline Pitcher, and quite a few more.  

Not very, very, very best friends, of course, or I’d have known they were working on the anthology already, wouldn't I? 

But certainly really nice writing friends that I meet once or twice a year, and sometimes email. Now I can discover how they angled their story and what animals they choose. What a pleasure!

Finally, there's one last thing that makes writing for these anthologies such a delight. The stories are rarely specifically "Christmas" tales, in a religious sense, but the anthology is probably bought for children around this time.

So I like to imagine MOONLIGHT TALES  - with my very own story, hooray! – being posted to faraway young relatives, or given to nieces or nephew or grandchildren or next-door neighbour’s children. I think about the anthology being slipped into stockings or pillowcases as an extra surprise on the Big Morning.

I do know MOONLIGHT TALES won’t be the Most Stupendous Gift Ever but I do like to muse on the book bringing its own precious reading moments. I imagine the stories being read to calm a child after a too-busy day, or the book being used as a read-together after hours of screen-time, or a one-more-story alongside a mug of hot chocolate after a winter walk.

MOONLIGHT TALES won’t bring me writing glory. But being part of something nice to enjoy when all the fuss of the holiday is over? That’s fine by me.