To make a complete change from The Reluctant Vampire, here follows the introduction to the very first short children’s story I had ever written Catching The Light… which actually turned out to be equally as readable to adults. See what you think.
When I heard about a competition held by the Sunny Worthing Art Group, I was immediately inspired. It asked for just the first chapter of a children’s story based on the life of my ultimate hero, Oscar Wilde. I was particularly excited by their encouragement of imaginative freedom so that the story should be an embroidery of history and imagination. After completing the first chapter I had to go on and finish the story. The whole project took just a few months, making it one of my most speedy creations to date! Most readers will by now be familiar with my long standing obsession with Wilde, and so this idea of creating fiction based on historical facts of someone’s life was one I was very keen to try, or try further, I should say, as I’ve already been working on a trilogy based on Wilde for some time, The Space Between.
Although I hadn’t written for children for quite some time, I found it instantly enjoyable and very easy – the ideas came flooding into my mind; indeed the ideas came flying into my mind, scrambling over each other in a psychedelic jumble. Before me is this sense of colour, light and vision that I feel so strongly running right the way through the story making it filled with life and excitement for me and for you also.
When I was researching for my dissertation on reinventions of Wilde, I’d come across several ideas of his that sparked my imagination – one of them being his obsession with Bosie, who he called his “Golden Boy.” I wanted to interweave this idea with Wilde’s life story, so Bosie became the Crystal Boy. Ever since reading about his writing of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I’ve been intrigued by his vision of the novel being autobiographical:
“I am so glad you like that strange, many coloured book of mine: it contains much of me in it. Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry, what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be – in other ages...”
It was easy for me to use Wilde’s ideas on his three selves and embroider them in Catching the Light, where they seemed to fit quite naturally as the one-legged artist, the harlequin and The Crystal Boy himself. I can envision Wilde reading this story aloud to friends, and I feel quite confident he would have liked it as much as I do. He would have called it, “a most charming little tale” and I hope you’d agree with him.
I’d like to say a special thank you to my Dad for his speedy artwork and to Ruth for her patient typing and of course to Andy and Stan for proofreading, typesetting etc.
Read the first chapter here.