When little Lucy spends the first night at her grandparents' house without her own Mummy and Daddy, she feels afraid. So her Daddy gives her a new friend, a lovely bear called Patrick.
Patrick waits for Lucy in the 'creepy room' where Lucy has been sleeping. Patrick is Lucy's special sleepover friend. But who will keep Patrick company when Lucy is not there?
The answer to this lies inside a dusty old toy cupboard in a dark corner of the room, and in the magic of the pure love of a child. Before long, everybody has some New Friends.
January 2013. It had been a year since I had been made redundant from a job - a career - I had really enjoyed, and I was struggling, emotionally and in terms of self confidence and self belief.
Since being made redundant, I'd kept in contact with some former colleagues and one, in particular, had been very supportive through lots of email correspondence. Fiona knew all about my writing aspirations, and on 29th January 2013, she expanded on some previous discussions we'd had, all of which had been fairly light and speculative, by sending me an email which contained some photos of some cuddly toys, together with very brief biographies of them, and challenged me to write a story about them, which she would then look to illustrate.
I'd never written a children's story before. I'd had a few ideas, one about a "Fireman Sam/Bob The Builder" type, who would be a police officer, as well as having some ideas for some YA books.
But this was the first time I'd thought about a children's story. I looked at the photos, read the biographies and, for good measure, threw in a toy of my own, which I've had all my life (I'll maintain a little air of mystery at this stage by not divulging which of the characters is MY toy!), and came up with the toy cupboard idea. My friend liked it, so off I went, and wrote it.
Real life got in the way for both of us, and in particular did not give her the time she wanted and needed to provide the cover, so it went onto the back burner.
Jump forward to June 2017. I was messing around with what I had intended to be my fourth full-length book (Uncle Prawn), which was long, long, overdue (again, due to real life getting in the way).
While I was giong through my notes, I came across Toy Cupboard again. I looked at it, tweaked the text a bit, and then created a basic cover idea of my own which, out of courtesy, I sent to Fiona, who told me that she still very much wanted to provide a cover.
A couple of weeks later, I had the cover, and felt that it was well worth waiting for, it's even better than I had pictured it in my mind, together with some wonderful illustrated chapter headings.
And so, my first children's story is out there.
Fiona and I have now provisionally agreed ideas for a further four "Tales from the Toy Cupboard", and work is underway on the second one.