As an Ulverstonian I had an idyllic childhood. The kind of childhood I believe most kids in this country would be envious of. We had freedom, space, rolling green fields, the beach, the canal and a great big lighthouse on a hill. In all honesty Ulverston’s a perfectly inspiring setting for the imagination. It’s a creative, artistic town full of musicians, artists and performers that encourages individual expression yet brings us all together in the cosiest of communities. There’s pasche egg rolling on Hoad in spring, carnival parades through the cobbled streets in summer, paper lanterns filling the skies with light in autumn and sledging down the Flan in winter. But for me, living just outside the town in Pennington, den building was also one of my most treasured childhood memories. My den was a ramshackled thing in Hodgson’s top field just between Rowe Head and Loppergarth. I was telling my partner Pete about it all one evening when he recounted his den building story back to me.
Although Pete moved to Ulverston when he was ten, he’d lived in Coniston for most of his younger years. In a cottage at the foot of Old Man to be exact. Pete’s den put my fly tip den,complete with fridge freezer, to shame. He dug his den out of the ground with a spade he’d saved up for and bought specifically for the task. It took him weeks of digging in all weathers and upon completion, he, his brother and sister and a few fellow hardy Lakes’ kids slept in the den. I was amazed and inspired by his accomplishment and I decided to write his story in rhyme. And so ‘Peter Digs A Den’ came to life.
In December last year I posted on social media asking my friends if anyone knew of someone local to help me illustrate Peter Digs A Den and I was put in touch with the very talented local artist Kate Brunskill. I’d seen Kate’s work on the windows of shops in town during Another Fine Fest and loved it. Kate has a similar fondness and sentimentality for Ulverston as I do, her art page is called Wolf Town, inspired by the origins of our town’s name. Kate’s work is perfect for what I had in mind for the story, her drawings are imaginative, unique and beautifully done. Her use of colour and form reflects the light and landscape of this area; rain-washed, curvaceous and playful. Thankfully she agreed to work on the book and we have a storyboard prepared, illustrations drafted and a great little logo for our Facebook page. Kate has also created a short animation of the illustrative process which locally born musician Pete Ord has agreed to put some beautiful music to. But the business of self publishing is an expensive one and approaching publishing companies with your perfect illustrator is tricky. We need your help.
We know our book will appeal to the folk who live or grew up here. We know that this story is about people like us, people who loved growing up and playing in the countryside around here. Our idea is to take the book into schools, tourist locations and to kid friendly festivals, to inspire children to get out into their local environment, to find those secret places they can build their dens, to write their own stories, draw their own characters and to love where they live. In order to do this we are launching a Kickstarter project to raise funds through crowdsourcing so we can finish illustrating the book, market it, launch it, sell it and run creative workshops in the area.
I believe we’ve developed a reward tier that will inspire investment and I know we can deliver what could be the first in a series of books about children and this beautiful place we live in in a relatively short time. Both Kate and I are dedicated to this project, we’ve already worked hard on creating the preliminary drafts, ensured the text has been edited well and we’ve set up social media pages for the project where you can follow our journey. I for one am excited to be sharing something so close to my heart.
Please check out our Facebook page Peter Digs A Den and head over to Kickstarter.com and search for ‘Peter Digs A Den’ to pledge your support. Any amount will do. Alternatively please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.