South Shields grandad publishes first in a series of children's stories featuring his grandson
A retired South Shields health worker has penned the first in a series of children’s stories, some of which see the author star alongside his three-year-old grandson as lead protagonists.
John Walker Pattison had until May of this year plied his trade as a senior clinical nurse specialist in haematology at the South Tyneside District Hospital, after a period working at the Redhead’s shipyard when it was still operational.
He finally called it a day this year due to pandemic pressures and ongoing respiratory problems linked with radiotherapy and chemotherapy he had undergone several decades ago to treat a lymphoma.
Having spent much of the pandemic writing children's fiction, Mr Pattison set about seeing through the publication of his first story, in which he stars alongside his grandson, Daniel, aged three.
‘Strange Trips and Weird Adventures’ was published on Wednesday, June 30, and is now available to order.
Of what inspired Mr Pattison to write the story, he said: “With regards to my grandchildren, I’ve always been what I’d call a ‘typical grandpa’ inasmuch as I’ve always been very elastic with the truth.
"So I would always tell the grandchildren that I’ve been in the SAS, that I’ve swum across the Atlantic Ocean in just one day, that I’ve climbed Everest – all of these kinds of things, you know.
"And then when Daniel, our grandson, came along, I just got the urge to put all of this down on paper. It was kind of influenced by the pandemic, too, as well as my poor health.
"It just grew from there – ‘Strange Trips and Weird Adventures’ became exactly that.”
The retiree is now looking to tour his work and help bring the joy of reading and storytelling to classrooms in the area once Covid restrictions allow.
He also spoke of the difficulties in securing the backing of a publisher, as well as in preparing the manuscript – which he wrote by hand – for submission when much of the industry had undergone a digital transition.
"The Word are going to invite me along to do some workshops and readings in October,” Mr Pattison said.
“I’ve also written to a few schools and whoever else wants to listen, really. I’m more than happy to travel.
"Looking for a publisher was tough – much like with J.K. Rowling, there were a lot of rejections before somewhere agreed to take it on.
"The stories were all written in long-hand – I’m a dinosaur with technology. Writing it was the easy part. But, with the proof-reading and preparation bit, before sending it to publishers, I had to enlist the assistance of my sister-in-law – who helped hammer it into shape from a spelling and grammar point of view.”
Mr Pattison is also working on other titles in the series, two of which – entitled ‘Blenkinsop Blabbermouth and the Ghost of Captain Broderick McCaffery’ and ‘The Fastest Water Pistol in Splodge City’ – are already complete.
Some of these upcoming titles feature borough landmarks, including Marsden Grotto.
Copies of ’Strange Trips’, which has been released through the Austin Macauley Ltd publishing house, are currently on sale at The Word Centre in South Shields.