22 May 2015
Author Debi Evans was always destined to be in the Arts – from a young age she ran a drama group in the playground – writing & starring in her plays and generally bossing around her friends. It was possibly this experience that gave her incredible insight into the type of book a child would enjoy.
Debi started her writing career while living in Dubai in 2006 where she wrote a series of 5 books in partnership with a friend called ‘The Secret Society of Dragon Protectors’. Having been selling Child’s Play books in Dubai for a number of years, she already had inroads in the local schools and used these contacts to sell her books all over the Middle East. She was even invited to Beijing to talk about dragons and Bali to speak at a literature festival while simultaneously enjoying holidays with friends.
When her writing partnership ended, and now back in the UK, Debi found new inspiration when she rescued a Jack Russell. With her three children Olivia, Callum, and Nathan leaving or having left home, Rolo was a perfect replacement – her fourth child. As she says ‘he’s the only one that still needs me!’ And ‘The Secret Adventures of Rolo’ series was borne.
Debi tries to tailor her books to the curriculum and her first Rolo book ‘Athelstan and the Time Tunnel’ features lots of local places of interest, The English Civil War, The Great Fire of Marlborough, Pompeii and Huntley and Palmer’s biscuits (not on the curriculum but every child loves biscuits!) The books are written through Rolo’s eyes who is rescued from the Dogs Trust, discovers a trap door under the kitchen sink, goes for secret night time adventures in the forest and finds a time travelling tunnel in a tree taking him to historic events where he sometimes influences the outcome. His owners remain blissfully unaware except for occasionally finding unexplained doggie footprints on the kitchen floor and wondering why he sleeps and yawns so much all day! He also meets woodland folk who share nature notes with him which he shares with readers.
The second book ‘The Chilvester Passage’ finds Rolo discovering a passageway in a church wall which takes him on adventures to London amongst other places. He still time travels through the tunnel to Ancient Egypt, discovers Moonraking, The Bronze Age, the theft of the Football World Cup in 1966 and goes up into space and also meets Shakespeare.
The third book is in progress and will feature Magna Carta, The Stone Age, Dragons and other exciting adventures. The books are beautifully illustrated by Chantal Bourgonje.
Debi’s books are for Primary School children aged 7-11 and she regularly visits schools to give presentations. Children love meeting a real life author and asking questions, for teachers it gives children creative story ideas and follow-up activities and as one parent said ‘It’s the first time my children have been in the back of the car reading books rather than playing on the iPad!’ Even the most reluctant readers have been hooked.
Debi loves to use references to Wiltshire in her books. Despite originally being from Caterham in Surrey and spending 20 years in Dubai where she enjoyed learning to horse ride, singing with Dubai Harmony and regular yoga she loves living in Marlborough. She’s embraced local life and is on the Parish Church Council, is a deputy church warden and sings in the community choir. She’s also enjoying the seasons after the never-ending heat of the Middle East and the freedom to take Rolo on fabulous walks on the Marlborough Downs and beyond. She’s even been asked to help clean St George’s – her local church. She’s the first to admit this is a bit of a shock after having had someone to clean in Dubai!
So if your children’s school is keen for authors to visit then Debi Evans is your gal! Imagine the excitement when your child has a copy of their book dedicated and signed by the author. And it’s Debi’s dream to get Rolo on the telly, so even more excitement for the children when their favourite book star hits our screens…