Swap screens for the woods, author's new children's book urges
- Credit: SUPPLIED
Not many people can say their life’s passion began with a shoebox – but for a newly published author from Norwich that is exactly what happened.
Rachel Guy, who grew up in the city, first developed a love of writing around her ninth birthday.
“My parents gave me a shoebox filled with blank exercise books, pens, pencils and various trinkets designed to spark my imagination and give me something to write about," she said.
“I remember there being a frosted red glass bottle with a stopper and an indigo candle holder.”
Following on from that early encouragement, Mrs Guy spent the next few years learning how to make the written word memorable. She also praised "some fantastic English teachers” from Reepham High School and Notre Dame sixth form, for helping her to hone her writing skills. After sixth form, she moved to university in Lancaster to read history.
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The mum-of-four said: “I also took a creative writing module and an English language module, eager to learn as much as I could about words, language and writing. I love history, but I soon learned that I was better at writing narratives than philosophically critical works. I just couldn't help but tell a story.”
More than a decade later, and Mrs Guy was still chasing the dream to have her name published on the front cover of a book.
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She added: “Over the years, my writing has given me opportunities to write a research article, wriggle out of parking fines and take on jobs in content writing and family history writing. But until now, I had never seen my work on a bookshelf, anywhere. That was always the dream.”
Then, when lockdown struck due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mrs Guy and her family began spending lots of time outside together.
“We have always loved being outdoors, but lockdown just increased our appreciation for nature. We saw our children really unwind and relax. We saw them find peace, joy, fun and excitement in the woods.
“My mum, ever my champion, encouraged me to write a book about it, and finally I felt I had the idea I had been waiting for.”
Mrs Guy wanted to produce something to inspire children to use the world around them as a play space.
“For us, the outdoors had been our favourite classroom and playground. I wanted others to find that and for children to forge their own unique relationship with nature – creating something that would provide them with a refuge and a canvas to ignite their passions and imagination. I wanted to see more families foraging for blackberries and elderflower, and I wanted to see more children playing with sticks and making dens."
And it was during a stroll through the woods with her daughter when the idea finally came to light.
"She said to me, 'look, Mummy, pinecones in my pocket', and there it was.”
Teaming up with her sisters-in-law, illustrator Serena Guy and editor Tirion Martins, the trio collaborated to form Wandering Wellies - and they already have more books in the pipeline.
“The book itself is beautiful. We hope the image, and the words will take children on an adventure that will make them want to grab their wellies and head outside immediately.
“The time to get children out from behind screens and into the woods is now. Right now.
“Rest from the digital stimulation that surrounds them, and some quiet places to enjoy, and to learn to watch, wait and listen. This is the key to getting the next generation to look after the planet. If they can learn to love the earth like a friend, then they will protect it.”
Copies of Pinecones In My Pocket have already been sold to schools in Norfolk and are being stocked in local independent bookshops. A copy has also been sent to the manager of TV personality, Steve Backshall, after Mrs Guy explained what a "huge inspiration" he had been to her son.
For more information visit the Facebook page @PineconesinmyPocket.