From a silly bedtime story to a children’s ebook…

Fartella Cover (1)

I never had any leanings towards writing children’s fiction but about a year ago, when my daughters were demanding made-up bedtime stories almost every night, I pulled a character out of thin air – Fartina Gasratilova, the world’s windiest kid. (Her name has since changed but I’ll come to that in a minute.)

Night after night, Fartina’s incessant wind either got her into trouble or rendered her a hero amongst her friends. My daughters laughed so hard that I wondered if maybe I was onto something. I typed a couple of stories out and asked my friends if they’d like to try them out on their kids. The response I got was overwhelmingly positive so I decided to “knock up” a little ebook called The Adventures of Fartina Gasratilova…

I glibly use the term “knock up” because I didn’t see it as anything more than a side project, an experiment, a bit of fun. However, once I got the ball rolling, I started to treat it more seriously. It would probably need illustrations. What age group was I aiming for? Did I really want to risk my writing credibility by writing a book about a farty child? But once I’d got started, I couldn’t help but see it through.

My long-suffering husband volunteered to do the illustrations, and what do you know? He came up trumps! (Sorry. Couldn’t resist.) Then, after editing, when the book was almost ready to publish, I came across another book on Amazon about a girl called Fartina. Aaargh! I couldn’t believe I’d been so stupid as to not check there wasn’t a character called Fartina already out there. (Well in fact I’d discovered there was a porn star called Fartina somewhere in the world, but I figured unless she’d released an autobiography, it didn’t matter too much.) And not to mention the veritable sea of fart-themed children’s books on Amazon. So much for my original idea…

By this time it was too late to turn back, and besides, the other book was quite different in style and content to mine, so maybe I didn’t need to change the name after all… But then my husband said that perhaps the name Fartina Gasratilova wasn’t a good idea on the grounds that, in the unlikely event it were to ever come to Martina Navratilova’s attention, she might be a bit narked that her brand name was being played with for the amusement of others. And sports brands, apparently, take these matters very seriously. So, I’d gone from silly made-up bedtime stories to potential legal battle. Blimey. I’ve never worried about any of this stuff writing grown-up fiction!

Anyway, I changed the name to Fartella and uploaded the book to Amazon (click here to take a closer look). Whether Fartella farts herself to stardom or deflates faster than a punctured balloon remains to be seen, but personally, I’ve enjoyed making her acquaintance. I hope you like her too.

PS: My latest novel for grown-ups, Blown-Away Man (which I assure you is nothing to do with bodily air), will be coming out in February.

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A table for 13, please

The following series of emails is based on my husband Chris’s attempt to organise a festive get-together with his side of the family in Lincolnshire. Some paragraphs are real, others fictional. The senders and recipients are Chris, his Uncle Bob (former owner of a chain of restaurants, now retired) and Chris’s sister Jenny, a nurse. Names of places and characters have been changed. Except Chris, that is.

To all. From Chris:

Howdy all.

After hours of strenuous internet research, I can happily confirm that I’ve booked McDonalds for 12:30pm on Saturday 8th Dec. Only joking. I’ve booked The Castle on Duke Street, see attached map. It has a private room that can squeeze in all 13 of us, just to please you, Bob.

Jenny, I’ve reserved a highchair for Olivia. Bob, will you and yours be arriving by helicopter? If so, please warn them in advance so they can reserve a spot on their helipad:-)

They’ve asked that we order food one week in advance – see attached menus. As Mum probably won’t want anything fancy I’ve posted her a kids’ menu.

Chris

To all. From Bob:

Chris, many thanks for making all these arrangements – we do appreciate it.

I have a confession to make.

Having looked up on tinternet how to get to The Castle, I noted that 20% of the respondents to TripAdvisor.com rated it Poor or Terrible. So, I phoned The Castle to get a feel for the place, and was given a 10-minute fire and brimstone diatribe by the owner on how they have 1,000 customers a week and no one ever complains. Oh, and “all customers are self-abusers”.

Frankly if I were a Lincolnite and had the inclination to complain, I’d think twice too given that Attila the Hun is the gatekeeper. Anyway I took matters even further (OH NO I can hear Chris exclaim), yes, I’m your Uncle and I reserve the right to be bonkers. So I emailed the owner – Margaret – and I explained to her how she can respond to her critics if she feels that the criticism is unfounded.

I have to say, one in five can’t be that wrong – however, she didn’t reply and I can only assume that given she’s a geriatric exhibitionist who apparently loves to prance around behind the bar, she hasn’t got time for technology. Unfortunately she’s probably worked out when we’re coming now, as you CC’d me on the booking emails, so maybe she’s instructed the chef to goz in my plum pudding and fart into my wine glass. So, all in all it should make for a very eventful occasion, which I for one am looking forward to.

If this has made anyone remotely nervous I apologise in advance – and no we shouldn’t change the venue because it’ll be a hoot. Tell Tash it’ll make great fodder for her next book.

All will be revealed…

Mischievous and obdurate,

Uncle Bob of Bobbington Heights

To all. From Chris:
Right… Nice one, Bob. I suggest we move to Plan B. (Actually this would be Plan H, as I already crossed off several plans before submitting Plan A to all of you lot and I don’t have time to start the search for the perfect restaurant all over again as I’m two men down at work this week and up to my neck.)

So Plan B, if Jenny’s ok with it, would be for us all to meet at hers instead. We can all bring a dish with us, and a dessert, and have a buffet. The kids can run riot, we get to chat properly and we can all muck in with the cooking and washing up. It’s cheaper and we won’t get kicked out at 4pm. Well, we might…

And we won’t have a chef wanking into our rice pudding. What do you think, Jen?

Chris.

To all. From Jenny:

No pressure then.

Can anyone recommend a crack team of industrial cleaners to come and blitz my house so it meets with Uncle Bob’s standards? And by the way, we’ve got a new dog called Biffy who likes to hump everyone. Oh, and our loo doesn’t flush anything other than wee. Other than that, you’re all welcome.

Bring some chairs. About 6? Uncle Bob, you can sit on the recycling bin.

To all. From Bob:

Great response – you’re on fire my peachy little niecey-nephlings. This sounds like the best option. At least we won’t find a cock ring in the guacamole.

Now listen you lot, I’m quite happy to run the gauntlet with Atilla the Hun and see what unfolds. But Jen-Jen (I can just see you with folded arms and tapping foot giving me a withering side-long glance), if you’re happy to have us, we’re happy to come. Your house is lovely, and I’m not averse to some mess. After all, you have young kiddiwinks and we’ve all been there. I’ll make sure our lot empty their bowels before we descend upon you.

To make life easier for everyone I’ll draw up a spreadsheet of what food each team should bring. In the meantime, let’s move on to presents. Who wants what? Or shall we ditch the idea and just buy each other goats in Africa? Although Jen, I’ve just thought of the perfect present for you: an inflatable pink poodle. There, that’s one problem solved.

See you all on the 8th,, squadron.

Lord Bob of Bobsworth Manor

To all. From Jenny:

If you want to get me a present you can chip in with our kitchen extension fund. That way I can fit you all in.

Bring booze.

And no you can’t stay the night.

See you on the 8th.

To all. From Chris:

Sorry, I missed the last round of emails. Can someone bring me up to date? There’s a message from Margaret at The Castle on my voicemail asking if I can give her a call. I’m too scared. You do it Bob.

To all. From Bob:

With pleasure my little Chrissie-whissie. Can’t get enough of Margaret the Hun.

To all. From Jenny:

Bring crisps.

And Valium.

To all. From Margaret@TheCastle:

I suggest you bunch of morons all learn how to use the CC facility properly. In the meantime, you’re all banned from my restaurant from now until hell freezes over. Set foot in the door and you can expect a proper Attila the Hun welcome.

Good riddance.