It’s Big Sky Mountain day! (Also known as Dress Like A Moose Day! – in my house, anyway) Out now in all the wonderful independent bookshops and online stores of the world!
Big Sky Mountain is the first book in my new series and I feel a celebration is in order. Obviously, launching a book is a reason to celebrate in itself, but so much has happened over the past eighteen months that I’ve been working on it, it feels like a particularly big achievement.
The world has definitely changed, and my world equally so. I certainly didn’t see a move to the seaside, or a global pandemic coming, and nothing changes how much work goes into making a book. When you have two children to homeschool for most of a year, you realise just what a task it is (especially when you decide to move home in the middle of it all.)
I know many other authors and illustrators have dealt with similar issues, and to that I absolutely salute them. I also hope that one day soon I’ll share a beer with them. (Goodness, those days can’t be too far away?)
It’s been quite an emotional thing making Big Sky Mountain. This new series came out of a desire to write about the wilderness, and the natural world, but it was about my relationship with my gran. I dedicated it to her for good reason.
While she had many years bed-bound towards the end of her life, in her younger days, gran was always so full of energy. She’d easily outlast me on those long walks across the Malvern Hills, and still come home ready to cook tea and knit into the wee hours. She’d always be the first to swim in the sea on holidays, putting me absolutely to shame, and there was a real sense of fearlessness about her.
Gran could be difficult and definitely rubbed people up the wrong way at times (including me,) but that was all part of what made her into the force she was – and she was definitely a force of nature.
There are many stories about her, but one I remember particularly well was when a car crashed on the busy road outside her flat late one night. She rushed outside with her St John’s Ambulance training and jumped right into the thick of it all.
As a young lad, you don’t realise what it takes to do that. Now I do.
As for the story, what started out as a tale about a pair of eager beavers settling nearby, became a book about becoming part of a new community, possibly even a family, and learning to fit in and survive.
It’s a story about doing good in the world, learning to look after yourself and finding your own place to fit in, and I’m really excited about that.
In many ways it feels much like Hotel Flamingo. There are jokes, animals – lots of new characters – and there’s even a little sadness, but I think it’s a little bit more personal, and there’s a lot of me in it. I hope you like it; it was a real joy to make
(By the way, if you want to watch the vide of me singing a song as Albert the Moose, you can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CP7ovT7qWUV/)
If you haven’t entered the competition to win one of four signed copies of Big Sky Mountain along with an original illustration, you can enter now! The more people you share it with, the more chances of winning you have!