January 28, 2017

The Mad Game Newsreel

This month may I welcome Chris Heath to my web site. Chris  is the author of brilliantly funny children’s books and his new series of Grandpa books are now on sale as a paperback, Kindle version, Audiobook and iBook.

He has been kind enough to pen a few words for me…

It all happened so fast. All I did was come up with the idea for a series of books for children and, sure enough – KAPOW! – seven years later, my book was available to buy on Amazon

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Okay, so it wasn’t exactly an overnight success. But slowly, steadily, over two thousand, five hundred and seventy three nights, I found a wise publisher with excellent taste in literature who was willing to take a punt on my story.

Because, rather unfairly, having a chortlingly good idea for a book series is the easy bit; the hard bit is weathering the storm of all the rejections from publishers till you find that precious one who gets the idea. But let’s fast-forward through all that misery to the fun bit, where The World According To Grandpa officially crash-lands onto Amazon.

So what’s it all about? Well, it’s about Stanley’s Grandpa; the biggest, maddest fibber in the universe. Don’t believe me? I don’t blame you… but it’s true! Almost everything he says is a copper-bottomed whopper! The series is based on the mad, 100% made-up tales that my own Grandad used to come up with when he didn’t know the answer to my questions. The first book – Why Is The Sky Blue? – has been available on Amazon for a few weeks now and it seems to be doing quite well for itself; holding its own in a crowded marketplace. In the story, Grandpa spins an outrageous yarn, featuring Kings, giant trumpets, beach balls and a herd of floating cows.

When it was first released, I was driving back and forth between Glasgow and Manchester for work and simultaneously trying to work out how to do strategic Facebook advertising on my iPhone. But, in amongst all the launch-day stress of the targeted marketing and Amazon chart placings, I got sent a photograph and it knocked me for six. It was of the four year old daughter of a friend of mine reading the Grandpa book and giggling. My friend Andy told me that she’s asked for it to be read to her four times so far today and was her new favourite. You see, I’d got so wrapped up in all of the hoo-ha and stress of launching the book and focusing on sales that I’d forgotten why I wrote it in the first place; to make kids laugh! It was such a lovely revelation and such an important one too.

In its first week of sales, the book made it to #16 in Amazon’s ‘Kids Humour’ category and, for one glorious hour, was the fastest-selling Paperback on the whole of Amazon. After the paperback and Kindle version we also launched an ‘Audiobook’ narrated by the legendary voice of Richard Ridings; better known to children everywhere as Daddy Pig from Peppa Pig.

On the 3rd of November, I did a reading of my book, Why Is The Sky Blue? at a local Primary school and it was the best feeling ever… Seeing and hearing the giggles and enthusiasm of 350 kids at once for the tales of Grandpa was quite something. Afterwards, I set the whole school the challenge of coming up with the next question for ‘Grandpa’ to answer. The winning question would not only become the title of the third book in the series, but the winner would become a character in the book. The kids all went LOOPY excited.

They put a ‘Grandpa Box’ in the school hall and the enthusiastic kids posted over 300 entries into it. I spent the next 24 hours going through all the entries, reading (and stifling occasional giggles at) suggestions like these:

“Do worms live in apples?”

“Why do I trump?”

“Why is there a King & Queen?”

“Why is the world so big?”

“Why does my tummy rumble?”

“Why do boys have willies?”

“Why don’t we have zoo animals as pets?”

“Why do I have freckles?”

“Why do I have a tummy ache in my arm?”

“Are monsters real?”

The winner was a little girl called Lydia, aged six. Her question to Grandpa was “WHY DO THE SEASONS CHANGE?”, which becomes the title of book number three in the series, which is out next year.

The next step in the big Grandpa campaign was to send the book to a few famous friends and colleagues who I’d worked with over the last ten years working in TV Production… Yes, it’s a fair cop, I was shamelessly calling in all my celebrity favours. Luckily, I didn’t have to ask twice and I got some lovely tweets and reviews from lovely people like Len Goodman, Brian Conley, Amanda Abbington, Gyles Brandreth, Richard Ridings, Richard Arnold and even Father Christmas himself!

So what’s next for Grandpa? Well, there’ll be a whole load more school visits and even some national radio appearances. Who said Grandpas were supposed to retire?

Why Is The Sky Blue is aimed at kids aged 4-8 and is available on Amazon now!

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