18/03/2013 07:24 GMT | Updated 18/03/2013 07:24 GMT

Turning an Idea Into a Children's Story

I'm not entirely sure where the idea for my forthcoming children's book Dot to Dot came from. Sadly, there is no bolt of lightning moment that I can define as when inspiration arrived.

The story of a young girl called Dot who lives in London and her grandmother, also called Dot, who lives in New York grew slowly over a few months, years even. In part it was from how my (American) wife and I enjoyed/endured a long distance relationship between Boston and London, before I persuaded her to cross the Atlantic.


More than anything though the tale of the two Dot's struggles to get together to celebrate their shared birthday has its origins in travelling back and forth with my own children to visit their grandparents in America. All of the excitement of visiting is extended and enhanced by the journey - packing, the trip to the airport, the slidy floors of the departure lounge, the x-ray machines, the seatback TVs, the food on the plane, the US customs officials who always look so stern (and have guns!), the transfer airport and the place where we saw a dog go to the loo on the floor (still a point of annual pilgrimage), the place where Dad left the passports once (a more reluctant pilgrimage), etc., etc., etc....

By the same token the distance makes departure so much harder, and there is no possibility for weekend visits (or mid week babysitting for that matter) in the intervening months. That I think is the key source for Dot to Dot - how much the kids want to see their grandmother and vice versa, and how far apart they are. The story is really about how happy they would be if on the morning of their birthday, their grandmother knocked on the door.