The short answer is I had children. The slightly longer answer is this:
Once upon a time – between 2015 and 2021 – I had five novels published for adults. During that time I was working in advertising, my wife worked in media and we were raising a young family. It was tough and carving out time to write was a constant struggle. But I love writing and (with the support of Mrs J and the understanding of my daughters) I found a way.
It never occurred to me to write anything other than adult fiction, but over the course of that six-year period, my daughters – as they will do if you don’t keep a close eye on them – grew older.
They both love books and we read to them every night from an early age. Starting with The Gruffalo, Hairy Maclary, Goodnight Moon, and then progressing to books like Emile and the Detectives, Podkin One Ear and Danny Champion of the World. I probably read more children’s books as a parent than I ever did as a kid. I was writing about love and death and all that grown-up stuff by day, and reading about magic and adventure by night. And – looking back – I suppose all that fantastical stuff was taking root somewhere in my subconscious.
And then the girls (sad and inevitable, but also gratifying) began reading on their own – The Five Children and It, The Hunger Games, Skellig. Maybe it was a reaction to that – the girls not needing me to read to them any more – that inspired me to write something original for them.
First, I wrote a book called Unleash Your Creative Monster – a children’s guide to writing. You see, as well as being avid readers, the girls love to write. So I put together a book of writing tips and (perhaps more importantly) dozens of story prompts. Many of those prompts involving fantastical elements and mythical creatures. And I guess that stuff took root too, because shortly after finishing Monster, I began working on Wishes Come in Threes – a story about a little girl, a dog and a genie.
I wanted it to be fun, dramatic, magical and – ultimately – positive. Like all the best children’s books we read together what seems like a lifetime ago. Maybe one day I’ll go back to writing for adults, but I’m in no hurry – I have a head full of magic, monsters and mad adventures that I need to write first.