Myrtle Marple book cover

Myrtle Marple

I love this book! I had great fun writing both the first two books of this series – yes, the second has been finished as long as this first one – it just hasn’t gone through publishing yet. Why am I so keen, when I am truly proud of ‘Journeys’ and ‘Bonkers Boris’ cracks me up? I think it is because – secretly – Myrtle is me!

The house is a house I once lived in… the setting is a setting I once loved. The only things I never had are Myrtle’s gadgets – but I wish I had! The extraordinary relationship that develops between the twins and Myrtle is the heart of the series. The twins are so alike and yet so different… Dan (Daniella) is far the more sensible one, although far from afraid of going on an adventure, while Dom (Dominic) is much more of a risk taker, albeit with a touch of flatulence.

This unusual trio haven’t even met at the start of this first book and, when they do first meet there is some caution and a couple of clashes. However, when Myrtle’s precious virtual friend, Doogle, goes missing, they become a tightly knit team. Which is just as well, as Dom gets himself into quite a scrape.

This was the first book for children that I actually completed and submitted for publishing, and I was thrilled when Olympia accepted it. However, due to my insistence on receiving hard copy for proofing – I always used to proof on hard copy – the second proofing was lost by the British Post Office and the publishers started the process again. Consequently, Bonkers Boris Meets the Mayor sailed past Myrtle and pipped her to the post. And I stopped demanding hard copies!

The two series are not in competition of course, mainly because the target ages are quite different as demonstrated in their length, form and illustrations. Bonkers Boris is aimed primarily at six to ten year olds, while Myrtle’s main audience will be nine to twelve year olds, although with parents or teachers reading them to children, wider audiences will enjoy the stories.

So, much as I adore the disaster-defined Boris, Myrtle will always have a special place in my heart!


Ros Wilson signing her new books

A Nerve Wracking Week

The publication of my 1st 2 books for entertainment.

I thought I would be so excited when my first 2 books for entertainment arrived from the publisher. Of course, I had already had several educational books published but that was not the same. They told it like it was, if you believed in what I was writing about the books made perfect sense, if you didn’t – they didn’t. Both attitudes I was perfectly comfortable with.

Now, in semi-retirement, I had written my first three ‘books for fun’. One (It’s Just a Journey With Ros) had been started in 2014 and abandoned due to pressure of work, the second (Myrtle Marple and the Vanishing Virtual) was started in the same year and the third (Bonkers Boris Meets the Mayor) was started in 2015 and also abandoned for the same reason. All of them were resurrected and completed following my relocation to Leeds.

I think the publishers (Olympia) were a little horrified when this trio of books followed each other to their desks in rapid succession in the last months of 2018 and the early part of 2019, but to give them credit they stuck with me and accepted all three for publication. Sadly, Myrtle Marple was lost by the Post Office when it had been returned for a proof read and that book had to restart proofing again (usually there are 5 proofs before signing off, one by the Olympia proof reader, three by myself plus one by a person of my choice). Myrtle Marple is now moving successfully through the process.

For my personal choice of proofer it was a no-brainer. Richard Robinson is the best proofer I know and is so thorough and such a rigorous critic. It meant a huge amount to me when he actually enjoyed my books, saying they were well written.

Having gone through all these steps to achieve publication, and the wait of over a year in the case of Journeys, it was a great shock to me how nervous I was when the first set of complimentary books arrived. I gave all those away to educators I admired and was surprised to find that suddenly – of the 25 of each book I had received – I had none left! Not even one of each for myself.

Silence! I waited and worried and feared that I might be exposed on Twitter or similar as the emperor with no clothes on! And then, the next day, the rash of tweets started with lovely comments and photographs of people opening or holding up their copies and expressing excitement to be a recipient.

I shall always be grateful for those first generous words of feedback, as I pursue my new career in writing.


#ThankATeacher

Today is May 20th – the national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’. Now I am a 24 hour news addict and have already listened to and part watched 3 hours of the BBC 24 hour news, but I haven’t heard anyone thank a teacher for anything.

I try not to get involved in political issues on Twitter, a social media I love and engage with almost every day. The truth is I am a swing voter – I go for the person rather than the party – and that has led to me getting my fingers burnt quite a number of times. I never voted for Margaret Thatcher, I felt she was arrogant and self-serving, and I voted for Blair twice – the first time I was delighted with his leadership and the second I was devastated – but now I am behind Boris in principle, purely because he makes me laugh and he is so positive.

My point is that no politicians and parties seem to really value our profession and want to thank the hard working and dedicated people working within it.

When all is well in the world, teachers rarely get a mention in politics. When there is a crisis, such as a rise in disease, in poor behaviour,  in unwanted pregnancies, in knife crime or similar – it is ‘Why don’t the teachers sort it out?’ Not the parents… not the politicians… In most countries in Europe social education is not the responsibility of the teacher, they teach the curriculum and little else. I am not saying we shouldn’t teach social behaviour, I am saying we get no thanks when we do it and we get the blame when we don’t.

One headline this morning referred to teachers ‘going back to work’. News Flash! They never stopped working! Most schools are still open with teachers in classrooms alternate weeks and preparing home learning resources and lessons in between.

At this moment, there are countless zoom meetings and leadership team planning sessions for a possible re-opening from June 1st, with much measuring of classrooms and tables, route planning and re-timetabling to allow staggered breaks and outside play. And a huge amount of stress!

No-one consulted the teachers and now there is a hotbed of objection and a political tug-of-war with the BMA, the teaching unions and Michael Gove (who doesn’t improve in the eyes of the profession) all throwing their two-penn’orth in. Will it happen? I doubt it. Who can justify the bizarre suggestion that you can teach a 4 year old to read by sitting 7 feet away from them with a book in front of them? If anyone should be back in school it should be Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. The 4 and 5 year olds need contact, are tactile and need rich stimulation and play – social distancing is just what they DON’T need and will not be able to respect.

The political battles wage on around us, the blame game continues and those who know nothing put down those who know so much and know what won’t work, isn’t safe or isn’t right. And no-body seems to have remembered to just stand up and THANK our wonderful, selfless and dedicated teachers.

Regardless of politics, teachers love their job, the privilege of working with their pupils and their schools and communities. They only want what’s best for the children they teach and the community they serve. They have worked and continue to work all hours despite the view that schools are closed. They want to be back at school more than anything, but only when it is safe for everyone.

So I say a huge thank you to all the teachers, teaching assistants, leaders, headteachers, cleaners, cooks, and support staff in our schools across the four countries of the United Kingdom. The government should rise and salute you!