Book: Agent Mouse - Snowdon Adventure by Geraint Thomascategories: Book, Children's Adventure, Action, Adventure, Character Building, Overcome Adversity, Children's Book, Spy Story, Humour, Fun, Laugh Out Loud, Bullying
Geraint Thomasabout this book: Those who know me – an ugly six foot, 17 stone former rugby player – may be surprised to discover that as a schoolboy I suffered at the hands of bullies.
Back in the day, as an innocent 11-year-old, I was a shy and self-conscious, lower middleclass kid, trying to find his way in the world.
I was targeted by a gang of boys from a nearby council estate. It may seem stereotypical and politically incorrect to some but the truth was they were rough and ready and lacking in the same Sunday school-decent upbringing as I had enjoyed – and so they picked on me, not exclusively, but I guess they saw me as an easy target.
On one occasion I can remember being lined up against the railings of the local swimming pool and being told to empty my pockets before being relieved of my money. For a while after that I was wary of venturing through certain parts of the village alone. It's a horrible feeling, as a youngster, to be afraid of other kids and telling your parents is not really an option for some strange kid's code of honour thing.
Then there was another kid, perhaps five years older, who for some reason took delight in threatening to beat me up whenever we crossed paths – I can still recall peddling my bike like hell to get away from him as he screamed, I'm going to kill you!'
I couldn't understand why a relative stranger, who I had never properly met, hated me so much.
I have revisited those dark moments ahead of the launch of my latest novel for young adults, Agent Mouse – Snowdon Adventure, with iPonymous Publishing Ltd.
One of the main themes is coming to terms with the unwanted attentions of a bully and how it can cause all sorts of anxiety and fear in a child.
Being a book for young adults the situation eventually resolves itself – no point writing something bleak and dark and expecting primary schools to place it on their reading lists!
The narrative also gives a glimpse of the story behind the bully and a possible explanation – if not excuse – for his actions.
For those who may think I'm jumping on the anti-bullying message, which is one of the hottest tickets in the publishing industry at the moment, the book was written almost 20 years ago when I was a fresh faced, if frustrated, teacher.
The original intention was to write something that actually engaged the boys in my class who only really considered picking up a book in order to throw it at someone. So I invented a cool character who got into all kinds of scrapes, included a spot of cartoon-type violence and gave the hero a wicked line in… well… one-liners; and Agent Mouse was born.
I also threw in the sensitive stuff about lacking confidence and dealing with personal loss to create a novel which engaged – I want to say girls as well as boys but that would be totally simplistic – all types.
The overwhelming majority of that class of 36 children, especially the boys, really enjoyed the book.
Then it sat on a shelf for the best part of two decades until a chance meeting with Tim Prosser of iPonymous resulted in a recall and reworking (I added email introductions to chapters to bring it up-to-date).
While Tim is excited about the prospect of launching Agent Mouse – Snowdon Adventure, it is quite disheartening to realise that its plot driving issues such as bullying, lack of confidence and feelings of loss are just as relevant to the young readers of today as they were when the book was dreamed up; let's just hope that support networks for youngsters who face such potential barriers to happiness in real life have better support today. Queue the saccharine – but seriously true – statement; hopefully Agent Mouse – Snowdon Adventure will help youngsters speak-out and address these perpetually important issues.
In signing off, just like Agent Mouse – Snowdon Adventure, true-life sometimes, just sometimes mind you, has happy endings. When I began playing senior rugby I was signed by one of the top sides in my valley. When I turned up for training I discovered that there was a weedy little fullback who turned out for the club's third team. I instantly recognised him as being the older boy who had tormented me!
Now I could quite easily have smashed him to bits during a practice game but two wrongs do not make a right.
Years later I've had my revenge but in book form!
preview: read a sample from this book
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