– ‘The Magic Of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
I am a teacher and an author and have currently written six children’s picture books with a bus theme.
For over 20 years, alongside my teaching career, I worked with a Children’s Charity, The Bewbush Playbus Association, which led me to write a photographic history book about it.
I soon found that many children had never been on a bus before, let alone a ‘Playbus’ and they wanted to know more. I decided to write a fictional tale about the bus, his number plate JJK261 gave him his name.
‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus,’ came out in print in 2014. It is the story behind the original bus and is his journey from a scrap-yard to being changed into a playbus for children to play in. From Fact to fiction the bus journey continued.
This story has now been followed by five more picture books.
I also undertake events and author bookings and love to share the story. There are also a few more stories in the writing process, with links to real events and buses.
The story has been read in many schools in the south-East of England, where I teach as a cover teacher, it is always well received and certainly different.
Jay-Jay the bus is rescued from the dirty scrap yard, where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. Feeling nervous yet excited, he is taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.
A fictional tale based on a real-life bus ‘Supersonic’, which flew in the imaginations of the many young children who visited it.
Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus will be 99p until 22nd April.
Special Blitz offer: A free 3D bus which can be claimed via website’s ‘Enquiry’ button using ref code JJay (www.suewickstead.co.uk) .
Additional bus models and books also offered as a promotion on request.
Q: How did you become an author? Was it always a childhood dream or …?
My childhood dream was to become a teacher, which I did. I became a published author by chance.
I had been involved in a play project which was a charity. The project had a double-decker bus and when my children were small, I became involved in raising the profile of the charity and helping to raise necessary funding.
I offered to paint the bus and by chance I succeeded, from then on, the bus got into my heart.
I helped apply for valuable funding and as such gathered information and wrote about the project. The information was put on display to highlight the potential that a Playbus could deliver. I was able to raise and support the project to buy and convert a newer model bus, equip the bus, paint the bus, set up new groups. But I could not raise the money for my role as a full-time worker. I took on a teaching role in the local school and continued my links with the bus until the school went through a difficult OFSTED.
The bus still remained something I was very proud to have been linked with.
Unfortunately, the bus closed in 2005 although I remained associated in the National Playbus Charity.
I left full-time teaching and was asked to put together a history book using the photographs.
Having now written and published the history book, I was able to show and talk about the real bus.
Children I met were interested in the real bus and asked lots of questions. This led to me telling a tale in response and then eventually writing a story.
I wanted to write a fictional tale to go with the factual bus project.
The first story ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, has led me to write further bus related stories and seems to have developed a theme to my writing.
(There always has to be a bus link somewhere).
Q: Which authors did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
My favourite book as a child, without a doubt, was Winnie the Pooh.
I also loved fairy stories and traditional tales.
The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, was also a favourite for me because when I was in my teens we were encouraged to move on to adult books and story books with no pictures, such as Dickens, George Elliott or T.S. Hardy.
Then one day I picked up the Hobbit and loved the escapism, a world and an adventure with a map and language of its own. Most of all it was pure fantasy.
But in fact, from Dr Seuss to Dickens it is whatever captures my imagination or attention. It also depends on what time I have to read and for what reason.
I always loved history, as well as myths and legends.
Q: Why children books and not t.ex. Chiclit or Thriller or …?
I write children’s books at the moment because they relate to the real bus and came about from curious questions from the children I have met.
I also wrote children’s stories for the children I taught.
Q: Can you tell us more about the real bus, JJK261, and how that inspired you for this book?
Jay-Jay, named because his real number plate was JJK, was once an ordinary bus. It was a project started up in 1977 as part of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee celebrations. Money had been allocated to community projects and the girl guides South-East had applied for help with the new district of Bewbush. The new area being built, and at the time, had no community resources i.e. shops, school, parks, it was just a building site. (It did receive a 1977 Silver Jubilee Plaque from the Queen’s community funding)
The bus was converted by the aviation apprentices at Gatwick Airport.
The children loved the bus and it was certainly unique, a community centre on wheels, a great idea.
The bus was one of the first such projects in the South-East and many people came to visit and then some went off to set up groups of their own.
I got involved, as a parent, and offered to repaint it (Daisy Daydream is the bus image I painted). From there I realised that the bus had a lot of potential and needed to promote itself and develop other uses in order to serve a wider market.
We met with other projects who were doing many more groups and learnt from them. I found it a fascinating thing to see all the different uses that a double-decker could deliver. The Playbus projects were always bright, colourful and certainly different.
Some of the projects were locally funded and some, like us, relied on funding.
Being involved with the bus empowered me and gave me confidence. I learnt so much, including how to drive a double-decker bus. In addition, it was something I could do alongside my children growing up.
Q: What do you enjoy about writing?
The best bit about writing the books is being able to share them with children in the schools I visit.
The first book ‘Jay-Jay the Supersonic Bus’, has been read in so many schools on my supply teaching journey. As a visitor I would try to take a book to share that maybe the children did not know and what could be better than a book I had written. The children always love the story as well as the background to the real bus. I always leave a copy of the book in each school I visit, in case the children might like to read it again but also so the school can see a copy. I also offer author days and events.
The best thing about writing is the reaction and amazement from the class when I say I am an author. They are often inspired and love knowing I am just an ordinary person, I have just got a book or two in print.
Q: What are your future plans as an author? Another book in the same genre or …?
At the moment I have a further ten or so bus related stories in various stages of development and would love to get them published.
I also hope to write a chapter book with information about the weather and rain-sticks. This is a story I tell and is always the story that the children love especially the older children.
But selling children’s books, as a self-published author, is tricky as there is so much competition and the cost of illustrations increases the cost. The promotion is the most difficult part.
Like my bus, the writing journey is a slow, bumpy ride but at least it is scenic along the way.
The Magic Of Wor(l)ds