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Inspirations

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Inspirations behind the characters and stories in the books

November 2019.

I'll be adding to this section of the website the inspiration behind the books. There is a lot to write but I hope you find it interesting!

Essex Snails first?

2014 I stared writing for our three granddaughters. Those stories were included in the Essex Snail book and again in Book 5 Snail Guardian Adventures. The experience with Novum publishers was a financial nightmare and so I bought the book back and looked for a new publisher in the UK. I found Choir Press and was going to use the Essex Snail stories with them. Literally days before I was to send the first book to Choir I had a conversation with a lady who lived in Essex about the book. She was not happy! She was sick and tired of Essex people being portrayed as 'dumb blondes' etc, etc. I was a bit surprised but went away and had a good think about it and then the obvious idea came. Trixie scribes the snails a dirt circle to dance in. Circle Snails!

Why Whittlesea? Our granddaughters lived there until 2016. I started writing the stories in 2014. Why the spelling? If you visit the railway station that is how Whittlesea is spelt because before the Fens were drained the town was beside a big area of water. 
Why the Parsley Family? I wanted something that reflected a family living in the Fens. Parsley was my first thought. The granddaughters chose their book names.
Even though I changed the Essex Snails to Circle Snails I stuck with their names as I had known them since January 2014.
The Circle Snails knew nothing about the human world of the garden. They woke up, ate, looked out for birds and then went to sleep. Once Trixie had taught them to dance they became 'aware' that there was far more to life. I needed a group of snails that would 'foster' them and teach them about a much bigger world. The Norfolk Snails living in the garden next door with their allotment, filled this purpose. They are an established group of snails and are passionate about a Fen way of life linked to the soil and tradition. I like the Norfolk accent. The link between the two gardens is under the fence that separates them.
I needed a 'wacky' group of snails that would liven things up and bring a different culture and language. The Beach Snails from the good old U.S of A brought all this to the Circle Snails. There is a Funeral Parlour behind the wall of the garden and so snails flying into the UK attached to coffins and finding their way to Whittlesea was a tenuous way of introducing new groups of snails and so the Beach Snails live in the Funeral Parlour garden and so far they have been visited by the Texas Snails and in Book 6 snails from Cuba who teach the Circle Snails the Conga Dance. The Beach Snails are Hippies and have all the way out language of that era and they introduce the Circle Snails to Rock n' Roll and other American dances plus cola, cookies and popcorn and burgers! Trixie's Tunnel gives easy access between the gardens.
Illustrations. Nick Roberts illustrates the Circle Snail books. Choir Press recommended him and he is excellent! Nick reads the stories very thoroughly and comes up with a picture and the more you look the more you see. I buy the illustrations from Nick so when published, the books are all mine.
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Book 1. The Magnificent Dancing Circle Snails. Some thought this a bit of a mouthful but I thought it was right. The first chapters give a lot of information to give a picture of the Circle Snails development. Not that inspiring but it makes what follows make sense. So its being taught to dance and the joy that brings to the Circle Snails and Trixie! Its meeting the Norfolks and then the Beach Snails eventually via Trixie's Tunnel. And then the introduction of visiting snails brining dance, food and culture. The Norfolk Snails introduce the Thunder Snails to the Circle Snails and they first appear in the Shelly the Snailephant story. (See below)

Then into Fen tradition with the harsh winter and the Fen skating history and action.

I am not a great lover of 'elf & safety, not that I don't understand 'risk' but this story brings the Circle Snails down to earth that in their new world there are rules and regulations. This is the first story where all three Snail Guardians get involved.

Snails From Upt North was inspired by a family we meet each August in Cyprus and I love their accent and their tales of their childhood. Hence the story.

We spend some time each year in Spain and so a Spanish story.

We spend quite a lot of time in Cyprus so the Circle Snails meet Frankie and Connie.

All these stories were Essex Snail stories written 2014/5. The granddaughters wanted something to go wrong. That's fine but I always want a  'happy ending!'

Enter the Thunder Snails to come to the rescue! These are based on the TV puppet show Thunder Birds. So we have Thunder Bird 1 piloted by Flash and his co-pilot Dougie who fairly soon qualifies as a paramedic snail. Thunder Snail 2 is piloted by Buster and his co -pilot Harris and then there is the bright shocking pink coloured Thunder Bird 7 piloted by Lady Ida the Boss or the organisation. They have a secret base in an old World War 2 bunker that is by the canal over looking a field and the railway.  The Thunder Snails are linked to the Fen Mountain Rescue teams.

Shelly The Snailephant was a new story for the book. One of the favourite Junior Choice tunes my granddaughters liked was Nelly the Elephant; so I wrote Shelly the Snalephant who runs away from the Snail Circus and finds herself in the Circle Snail's garden. They arranged for the Thunder Snails to whisk her away before the dreaded Circus Police arrive with their huge Sniffer Snails! I love Sniffer Snails! best think I ever invented.





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Major Gerry and Henrietta Snails are based on Spike Milligan Goon characters. I love the Goon humour, so these two are Henry Crun and Spotty Minnie Banister. A couple from a time when cars or automobiles where a novelty and the Major has all the airs and graces of an upper class with a 'top hole' picnic etc. The 'Fab, fab!' came from watching the TV show Tipping Point and every time this lady won, she said 'Fab'. I had forgotten people use to say that in my youth. The Major often nods off for 'Forty Winks'. They are off on the Monte Carlo Rally which leads us to Posh Snails which was another new story based on Zasa-Zasa Gabor a famous actress of the 1950's who had lots of husbands and said 'Dah-ling' to everyone. The Honourable Arbuthnot Puff-Puff is Major Bloodknock from The Goon Show. I liked Major Gerry and Hen' so they made a spectacular return!

Follow the Blue Line was inspired on a visit to Kiel in Germany. As we got off the cruise ship you could follow a blue or yellow line to the tourist attractions. This was chance to for the Circle Snails to leave the garden and something had to go wrong and the Thunder Snails return and come to the rescue.

The Sellotape Dispenser ends the book. I saw a picture on Facebook with a snail talking to a sellotape dispenser and thought a very short story with some humour would end the book well.

Owl Snail. Book 1
Owl Snail! A garden ornament that lights up. In my mind I added wings. Owl Snail works with the Thunder Snails. Has a major roll in Book 3 in the Pirate story. Features first in the Blue Line story.
Cover Book 2

Book 2. These were all new stories. The Christmas Lights did happen and two of our grandchildren danced. This was an opportunity to get the Circle Snails out of the garden. The Snail Transporter made from a school lunch box was an ideal solution so that the snails could be carried around.

Santa Snail came to me while in bed! I had to get up and wrote it in one go and I felt tearful once it was done. To be consumed by a story is a wonderful feeling and you just get on and write it down.

A Capital Time pushed the boundaries of where the Circle Snails could be taken. Two of our grandchildren had been to London but Lizzy (book name) hadn't. So I decided the family would go. I needed a well known dance that readers would recognise and the hokey-cokey and Kness Up Mother Brown were a good choice given we were in London and meeting Cockney Snails.


Snail World. I felt I needed to broaden the Parsley family's knowledge that there was a 'Snail World' out there. That there were other Snail Guardians. I choose the name Elmo for the security guard as I had been watching Brush Strokes on tv and I love the character Elmo. I have been a Shadows fan since I heard Apache in August 1960 so I invented The Snaildows. I couldn't use The Shadows names so improvised. The Snaildows invite the Circle Snails up to dance at the concert and then invite them to be the 'warm up act' for their concerts in East Anglia. The Thunder Snails would fly them to the venues. The Circle Snails now had a life outside the garden and they were travelling. 

Teacher Snail was inspired by seeing a large jigsaw toy of a snail with the alphabet on it in a snail shape. So Teacher Snail had a screen and the alphabet on one side of her and 1 - 100 on the other. Santa Snail sent her along to educate the Circle Snails. She would make many visits, but this story is her introduction.

Certain Things. This is pure Goons. In one of the programs the Ministry of Certain Things makes an appearance. I loved this idea. Looking for something which they hadn't a glue what it was, but it was a secret and they would find it! I loved the illustration Nick Roberts did for this story. The two professors have appeared on tv documentaries. 

Ministry of Certain Things
Penguin Snails. Some friends had been to the Falkland Isles. I invented Penguin Snails and this led to the water adventure in the canal. All good fun!
Penguin Snail

Tyrannasnail. We went to Hunstanton and I saw a dinosaur in a baby cot. It looked imprisoned. A dinosaur snail seemed a good idea. Then I thought of Jurassic Park and then thought about having Snailassic Park in Wisbech which is another famous fen town. i was sad I decided to blind Tyra but I was thinking of the down side of keeping fearsome creatures in captivity. Giving her two Sniffer Snails cheered me up as I adore Sniffer Snails! This was a story with a sad ending and at times a book needs an unhappy conclusion. It was all part of the Circle Snails learning curve.

Fairies. Ella (book name) loves the idea of fairies so I wrote this story of fairies in their garden appearing to the Circle Snails and the three Snail Guardians on Midsummer Eve. The fairy names come from my family; Rita being my mum. Many adults believe in fairies, guardian angles etc. Mine looks after me really well!


Faries

Bits Snail. I found a magnet while searching for something in my tool shed. A snail who when he goes faster attracts metal objects and when he slows down, they fall off. When he slithers he makes a lot of noise. Another visitor to see the Circle Snails dance. What could go wrong? Mr Parsley's big speakers in his green house soothing his tomatoes have two very large magnets in them. Bits gets too close. Wham! He is stuck on the green house glass. Enter the Thunder Snails but this time they cant help as they know magnetism affects their instruments. Enter the three Snail Guardians whom secure a rescue and the Thunder Snails cope with their first failure.

William Snailspeare. Every snail should have Snailspeare as part of their education and Teacher Snail returns to enlighten the Circe Snails. I enjoyed writing this with the humour of Joey rising to the Snailspeare quotes and the acting by Joey and Chloe. I used modern technology with the Snail Guardians showing dances via UTube. The Circle Snails are booked again as a 'warm up act' for the plays at venues in East Anglia.

Money Box Snail. Money. Who do you trust? Another adventure and an addition to the Circle Snails experiences and learning curve. I got the idea from buying a snail money box in a shop in Pathos Cyprus.
Money Box Snail
Teacher Snail
Posh Snails. Zasa Snail
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