The Tale behind Tales
The origins of Tales for Great Grandchildren
Posted on: 29th September 2011
Walking in Nepal in 1978, I discovered the material for Tales for Great Grandchildren.
Chhepu, and the Kathmandu Valley
I kept an account of the trip and the outline of some stories from mountain folklore. I had gleaned these from Mike Cheyney, a former British army officer who had settled in Nepal and was devoting himself to helping the Nepalis to find their way in the modern world. One of those stories was about a mythical creature named Chhepu and the origins of the Kathmandu valley.
By a round about route, the story of Chhepu came to the attention of Elsie Donald, a successful book packager and also an author. Elsie thought my writing would appeal to children over a wide age range and that I had found an unusual source of stories. She encouraged me to write more. I needed little encouragement.
Hindu mythology and the Jataka tales
I liked the idea of introducing children to the world of fantasy that existed in other countries and, influenced by memories of my own childhood, I wanted to write stories that were both illustrated and 'right' for reading aloud. I already had some other Nepalese themes from what Mike Cheyney had told me and, at Elsie's suggestion, delved into the mythology of the Hindus and the Jataka tales - well known to the Bhuddist communities.
From writing to publishing took 25 years
All that happened over 25 years ago and one result was a small collection I have now named Tales for Great Grandchildren. In one sense none of the stories are original but the way I worked the themes up and embellished them to make them attractive to modern readers and listeners made them very much 'my own'.
The collection lay fallow for years waiting for a publisher and an illustrator. The publisher, JJ Books - my own business, came first and that soon led to Artworks, Daniela's agent. In Daniela I have found the ideal collaborator. She liked the stories so soon as she read them and I liked her approach to illustration so soon as I saw samples of her work.
Between us we have, I hope, created something that will last.