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I could tell you that it was because we were riffing around with my wee niece Ellen in the summer and teasing Nanny Webster about her obsession with cheese, and so I eventually decided to write the book in time to make it one of Ells' Christmas pressies but you wouldn't believe me.
You'd probably think I did it in an explosion of jealousy at 'I only have to write 10,000 words' lunatic and childrens' writer Rachel 'Poo Pants' Hamilton. That I got sick of watching her relieving small children of their money at a rate of thousands of Dirhams an hour and decided to get myself some of that 'scoop the wee brats out of their pocket money' dosh action. And you'd be basing your assumptions on some pretty decent science - Rachel literally hoovers the stuff from kids when we do markets and stuff together. Hoovers it, I tell you.
But the truth is - honestly guvnor no word of a lie, trust me on this one - it's a present for Ellen. A book as a Christmas present is, if I say so myself, rather inspired. If you are in the fortunate position of being able to write, edit and produce books, they make a rather fun personalised gift!
I remember being like that when my Dad used to tell me stories about Charlie the Chipmunk every night when he put me to bed. Charlie was a major highlight of the day. He used to get up to all sorts of high jinks. Wonderful stuff. When I was about eleven I asked him, 'Whatever happened to Charlie the Chipmunk, Dad?' He promptly responded, 'Oh him? He's dead.'
There went innocence.
So this is going to be an interesting addition to the old Amazon profile: Middle Eastern thrillers, nukes, whores and deaths by torture alongside decent bombers and psychological thrillers about girls going bats and then we have Nanny's Magical Cheese Box.
There's precedent. Aldous Huxley, James Joyce and even Mr Macho Hemingway himself have all written children's books. Few people realise Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was written by Bond author Ian Fleming, for instance - although the original Fleming novel (published posthumously, Fleming died of a heart attack before the book went into distribution) has little to do with the story told in the popular film. Actually, something of a worry, one scathing review of Fleming's book said, "We have the adult writer at play rather than the children's writer at work."
Fleming, by the way, was an unmitigated shit as a human being. The only Bond book in which the female lead is not referred to as a 'stupid bitch' is The Spy Who Loved Me, which is (uniquely) written in the first person - that of the female protagonist, who doesn't let the side down by herself announcing, 'I know I'm a stupid bitch, but...'
All that apart, the world of children's fiction can likely rest easy. Nanny's Magical Cheese Box is going up on Createspace for the hell of it and I'll print a short run of Christmas presents with Jamalon's POD operation. I'll probably 'properly' publish it to Kindle for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2017, where I'm doing a 'how to publish books' workshop thingy. Having said that (and sales of NMCB are truly the last thing on my mind), kids' books don't sell well on Kindle. It's A Great Truth that kids like paper best.
It was a whole lot of fun to do, by the way. But I think Rachel's safe. It's not really 'me' as far as the old writing career goes. Now that Nanny's Magical Cheese Box is done, I'm back to working on next novel project, The Dead Sea Hotel.