Crowland mum’s monster book idea

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New children’s author Jane Harriss says her harshest critic is just ten years old.

It’s her daughter Eve, who first heard the newly published story when her mum made it up to read at bed-time.

New children's author Jane Harriss with a copy of The Grossasnotarus. Photo: SG240613-129TW

New children's author Jane Harriss with a copy of The Grossasnotarus. Photo: SG240613-129TW

But Jane (39), who lives in Crowland with husband Mark, Eve and Edward (13), was only slightly older than her daughter when she came up with the idea of The Grossasnotarus, a monster who eats children.

It was written for a school essay that earned good marks but the name refused to go away. It stayed at the back of her mind until, when Eve was about five , Jane thought she would like to turn it into a story for her daughter.

When Mark heard the story he encouraged Jane to try to get it published, but Jane says most of the mainstream children’s publishers she approached didn’t bother to reply, and those that did rejected the idea.

It was during a clear out of her daughter’s bedroom last year that Jane came across the story again, printed off and stapled together, and decided she would try once again.

She says: “I tweaked it a little bit and sent it off to smaller publishing houses and got some interest.”

She was asked for more material and so had to come up with a couple more tales about her character, Arthur, who uses his troublesome trunk to save the day in various situations.

Jane says: “They said they would like to use all three stories for a book and publish me, so suddenly it all got very exciting.

“I got to choose my own illustrator and we worked really hard because I had this character firmly in my head and we had four attempts and then got Arthur just right.

“Suddenly I have a published book. It’s delightful. I have really enjoyed the whole process.”

Jane, an early years practitioner at Abbey 345 Preschool, has been doing book signings and visiting primary schools to inspire and encourage pupils to read and write.

She has also read the story, both at the schools and at her own preschool, and says: “Every child I have spoken to who has read the story really enjoyed it and that’s the biggest compliment really, and that’s the whole purpose of it.”

The book – The Grossasnotarus published by Book Guild Publishing (ISBN 978-1-84624-874-0) – is available from most bookshops, including Bookmark in Spalding, where a signing event is due to happen on August 20 (2pm to 3pm).