The origins of the series
The origns of the Micklegate series are probably as curious as stories themselves. I have had a background in education, particularly in applied technology and solutions, and had a couple of businesses which were more in tune with my experience as a musician. In that role, I used to write scripts and musicals, mostly for major tour operators and some small theatre companies. I came to realise to my surprise just how much I enjoyed writing.
For those of you who are writers, this was a very different experience. A million miles away from that experience where you hold your breath waiting for reviews. Of course, the story, the humour and the songs had to tick some boxes, but it was a collaboration and a very happy process, including sitting in the sun and watching people dance and laugh at what you had written.
When I was reeled back into the education sector, I had to turn away from this enjoyable, successful business and I missed it. I had no intention of writing books. In fact, I don’t think I ever thought about it.
Until a few years ago, I used to live in a modern semi on the edge of the countryside and the walks were wonderful. It was a blessing, particularly during the Covid pandemic when we could go out. In 2018, we had a tragedy in the family. Even so, I enjoyed those walks in that environment. Tall Oaks, farmers’ fields, meadows, cows walking to greet you. Rambled hedges with detectable wildlife, and, of course, the uninterrupted sound of a bird song. On one occasion, I spied a little field mouse, and its habits were curious. Suddenly he looked at me, turned and went on his way.
I think mostly because it was a difficult period in our lives, I wanted to paint again, something I had always done. When I taught in schools and colleges, my specialist subjects were history and art and design, and they have always had great value in my life.
I simply combined a few of the passions in my life in one picture. One night, as I closed my eyes, having read for a while, I clearly saw this mouse in a workshop in historical York (you can see the picture on the ‘Micklegate paintings’ page).
I can’t tell you exactly when, but possibly only a week after I started painting, I thought I would write about it. I didn’t know whether it was going to be a children’s story, or just something comedic. But I soon realised that within the story (and eventually series) there were lots of things I wanted to say without becoming too serious about it. Before I knew it, the story unfolded, and yes, even I asked, will people tolerate a talking mouse? I felt compelled to do it, and it still causes debate. I remind people that there are plenty of stories with talking animals. If you read the series, you will find the reason for it.
That was the start. Some characters came from my wide experience working with those on the extremes of society who needed help and engagement and in return rewarded me. Silas, for instance, was always going to be autistic, but I didn’t want to mention it until book 5. A lot of the work is about ‘what would this be like back then?' How would society receive someone with autism when there were so many things considered odd and beyond the norm?
Every so often, I think about writing something different, and I have written an anecdotal biography of some of my experiences in the education sector. But the Micklegate people and the historical context just keep drawing me back in, and I understand that some explanations around Nick Douglas’s experience, and why he can access different timelines, are still not been fully examined.
The work relies on it having value and I’m grateful to the many people who bought the series and those who have positively fed back. I would urge you to please leave some reviews on Amazon, as only a small proportion of people have done so. This helps to secure the possibility of future stories.
If you have any thoughts or questions about the work or me, please use a contact form or use the email address below, and I will try to respond when possible.