Today, we are joined by Graham Swann, as part of his book tour for Kimmy the Koala Helps the Honey Bees in Summertown Wood, a story about how a kindly koala, Kimmy, helps out the dwindling honey bees.
Graham has written the following about his inspiration, and his process of writing for children.
The inspiration for the books of course comes from my grandchildren Dan, Leah, Max and Naomi. I have two great nephews Taylor and Ethan who are four and two years old who are also a source of inspiration. All the kids in the family have a love of animals as I did and still do. As Leah is getting older she is now eight and requests birthday or christmas gifts when asked to be certificates to sponsor all sorts of animal charities, not gifts for herself.
On reflection children are generally born with a love of animals and no bias and as AA Milne discovered they totally get a bear walking hand in hand with a boy or a tiger.
So my characters started from my past. When I was small there was a Guerrilla in London zoo that I loved called Guy and this was the first character I came up with. Guy to my mind as a child looked sad as he lived in a concrete and metal cage affair not like today with zoos having large compounds with animals having space to move around. So the thought of living free in a wood came to me and the other characters started to come along.
All the characters are very different with a mix of genders like Mini the mole who is a girl but wears a hard hat and loves to be in her garden digging and tending her flowers. The books have nine characters in all plus the addition of Warewood the talking tree who is old and wise and is always able to advise the characters in the best possible way so they can help each other out.
Eventually I invented Guy the guerrilla, Ronnie the rat, Mini the mole, Denny the donkey, Woo the owl, Hayley the hare, Lami the sheep, Penny the panda and Kimmy the koala who are all friends and help each other out so with nine characters that meant I had a starting point to write nine stories, one for each character.
The books are simple stories, some have educational elements like the Kimmy story helping the bees, others are just stories that celebrate the first day of spring, or a boat race or a character needs a new home so everyone helps out. All the stories have a sense of caring about and helping each other as a group of friends and I try to involve as many characters in the stories as I can.
The visual style of the books is very important to me. The hand drawn style of the books is very deliberate. The characters are all hand drawn and I wanted the books to be different from other publications and have a fresh, colourful hand drawn style with plenty of interest on the page that can be included in the story telling when mum or dad are reading them to their children.
I wanted the children to engage with the characters in the books so I had the idea of adding coloring pages at the end so when the story finishes they can color in their favourite characters in any color they like and have a bit of fun.
Generally I think the books are universal as most children in this world have a fascination or love of animals and I hope they enjoy my stories as much as my family do.
Kimmy the Koala Helps the Honey Bees in Summertown Wood
Purchase from Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kimmy-the-koala-helps-the-honey-bees-in-summertown-wood-graham-swan/1126636029?ean=9781911525882&st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Core+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP67429
Graham Swan has worked as a graphic designer in the UK and is currently a college lecturer in Fife, Scotland. He currently lives in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. This is his first published book.