Saturday 9th August
This is the first real time I have gone to a book signing, and I have to admit, I was really nervous!! I forgot to take a pen for notes and after a few questions my mind went blank!! I really need to sort this confidence thing out! Regardless to my brain letting me down, Alan was a lovely man who was very proud of his books. He said that he composes the stories, his son illustrates the books and then his lovely wife(who was also there) pretty much handles everything else. How fantastic is that? The family working together as a little team to produce some beautiful children’s books!
Before my brain evacuated itself, I managed to ask how long it actually takes to produce just one book, and even though my memory is packed out with school holidays and nappies and feeds, I managed to remember Alan telling me that it takes a good 6 months for just one book to be completed. That seems a long time but when you consider all of the work involved, it really is quite a quick process.
“Children’s author Alan Cliff was born in Lancashire and attended both Cambridge and Oxford Universities. In 1960 he married his wife Rosemary and became a Methodist Minister. During a career that first took him to Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, and then to Edinburgh, where he became the youngest Superintendent Minister; he eventually arrived in Wrexham in 1974, taking charge of the area’s Methodism circuit.
Alan, who now lives in Rhyl, has been a railway enthusiast all his life and is president of Rhyl and District Model Railway Club, president of the friends of the Rhyl Miniature Railway; and vice president of Bala Lake Railway Society. Alan and Rosemary have housed cats for many years and one of them, Jack, also seemed to hold an interest in model railways. This inspired Alan to write a series of children’s books based on Jack’s adventures. Both Grabbit and Skoot and the Invasion of the Grey Squirrels and Jack- Special Agent a tale from Jack the Station Cat and the Space Aliens, and other Stories have been short-listed for the Goodchild Prize for Excellent English: the former in 2001 the latter in 2003. Alan Cliff was the first children’s author to be short-listed for this prize and the first author to be short-listed twice. Alan is a Member of Academi.”
“There are fourteen books in the series to date with the fourteenth (Jack the Station Cat and the Vanishing Lady) having been published in November 2011. Two of the books have also been published in Welsh, with the translation being done by Berwyn Prys Jones. The books are aimed at children between the ages of 3 to 9 and combine cat stories and railway stories and were originally illustrated by Helen Maffin with the later books being illustrated by Nigel Cliff. As with his Grabbit and Skoot series, the author has chosen to donate half of his author royalties to various different charities.”
Alan pointed out that the ‘Great Little Trains Robbery’ was illustrated by an independent illustrator and that ‘Jack the Station Cat Goes to School’ was the very first of the collection.
I thought I would support my local writers and illustrators by buying one of these cute little books and I have to admit that my immature side took control when choosing 😀 I chose ‘Jack the Station Cat and the Snail Trail’, mostly because I thought that all of the snails on the cover looked really funny!! The imagination is used greatly as it is not often that you see a convoy of snails slithering down the path!! Anyways, I haven’t actually had chance to read the book(costing £2.99) yet but I did have a flick through and I was surprised to see that at the back there is a fun puzzle section!! I will be reading the book and who knows, I might even buy the rest of the collection for my new arrival-mickey moo!!
“Gwasg Helygain: specialists in Graphic Design, Litho & Digital Print since 1974. They produce work in Welsh and English primarily for customers in North Wales (Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy, Wrexham, Gwynedd & Anglesey) but with a customer base which extends across the UK and beyond.
They specialize in high quality print & design for large companies, small businesses and individuals.”
I am looking forward to following ‘Jack the Station Cat’ on facebook and as soon as I had read my book, I will be right back to tell you all about it! 😉