How did your experience working on children’s TV shows such as Cbeebies, CBBC and Balamory help you write this book?
I was a publicist at the BBC so I was not involved in the actual programme-making side, but I did get a chance to read through a lot of scripts and when I was on location I saw how those scripts came alive. I do think when I write, even though I’m not an artist, I tend to do so with my eyes first. I can see the action in my mind’s eye before it makes it to the paper. I watched how an idea for stories and characters in Balamory became fully formed and caught the imagination of children all over the world. I recall that the first series didn’t have a big marketing push, so the kids really did find it. So my experience with BBC must have had an impact whether consciously or not.
Did you find it daunting writing this book; given that it would be would be your first publication?
No, I didn’t find it daunting at all, until that is, we realised just how much we still had to learn. That was probably after the first notes came back from our editor. Then it seemed like we had a mountain to climb…
My advice to any aspiring author would be…
If I had a pound for the people on discovering that I had a book out, who have then said to me that they had a book in them, I’d probably be quite wealthy now. My advice is, go ahead and write it, do something about it, don’t leave it up there as an ‘if only’ or a ‘what if’. Only by doing it, can we learn.
How did your favourite titles as a child inspire your vision for Badger the Mystical Mutt?
I was a huge Enid Blyton fan, so I suppose some credit must be given to Timmy the dog in The Famous Five and of course Scooby Doo, but possibly on a subconscious level.
How did you end up writing this book?
If someone had said to me six years ago that I would have written a childrens’ book I would never have believed them. I had a book on the go (it still is) – adult fiction called Fairytales, Phantoms and Sycophants set in a circus and based on my experiences of life in the media Badger just happened. He is based on a real dog called Badger, and his stories have a bit more purpose to them. It seemed we couldn’t ignore him. His tales had to be told
LAURA CAMERON JACKSON
How did your background in working with disadvantaged children help when you were developing ideas for this book?
I guess subconsciously it helped enormously. I worked with Sense Scotland for a few years on the arts team and I met and worked with some incredible children (and adults) with severe disabilities. Their determination to overcome any limitations was mind-blowing and the joy with which they did it was infectious.
What was it like teaming up with a friend to write this book? Any creative differences…?
We work incredibly well together even though we both have quite different ways of working. I love to use long-hand with pencil and paper and Lyn loves to sit at her computer. We both have ideas that come to us separately, but when we sit down to discuss them, that’s when the fun starts and it all happens.
What has been the most enjoyable part about creating this book?
Being able to go with the flow creatively, it’s all our own creation, our ‘badgical magical’ world, and we love it.
What does the future hold for Badger?
A certain Badger the Mystical Mutt tells me he has lots more tales to tell and can see himself as an animation. Who am I to argue with that? Sounds wooftastic to me!
LYN & LAURA
My favourite book…
LYN: I would have to say it’s The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge and spookily dookily in Hamleys in Glasgow, Badger is sitting right next to this on the shelf. This was a book recommended to me about five years ago so if I was to go further back than that, it would be Jeanette Winterson’s Written On The Body
LAURA: The Waves by Virginia Woolf.
LYN: Janice Galloway who wrote The Trick is To Keep Breathing was an English teacher at my school. I love her writing style, and I remember when I was due to have a poem published, I met her again later when she was at Glasgow University as a writer giving a talk. She was very kind to me and gave me some good advice.
LAURA: My mum and dad
My favourite author…
LYN: Ooooh, I’m stuck between Charlotte and Emily Bronte, though you may think me mad to say this, but for a few years back in the day, I convinced myself I was Charlotte re-incarnate because Charlotte died 111 years before I was born on 31st March, my birthday, and because, well it worked for Kate Bush and Emily! Ahem…
LAURA: Virginia Woolf
The first book I had published was…
LYN: Badger the Mystical Mutt (though I had a few short stories and poems published in my youth)
LAURA: Badger the Mystical Mutt
My next book is…
BOTH: Badger the Mystical Mutt and The Barking Boogie
Everyone should read…
LYN: Whatever makes them feel good. But if I had to recommend, I don’t think anyone could argue with The Power book by Rhonda Byrne
LAURA: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The perfect holiday read…
LYN: I’m going through chick lit at an alarming rate. Laura and I are so different, she would happily head off to the sun with a Dickens tome, whilst I’m very contented with my Bridget Jonesesque stories.
LAURA: Iris Murdoch – any of her novels.
Every story should have…
LYN: A feel good factor. I’m all for deep literary explorations and think I did most of the greats in my twenties. Now I want a quick fix, and to chill out and be entertained with a good story that flows, where I either love or hate the characters, and then feel good at the end of it. I’m probably currently the reading equivalent of panto or TV soaps. That’s not to say I won’t delve sometimes…
LAURA: Intrigue and a bit of magic
Best advice ever given…
LYN: From Colin Gilbert at The Comedy Unit (the tv production company for Rab C Nesbitt and Still Game along with many childrens’ programmes) – “Don’t over-hype it, just let it seap seamlessly into the ether”
LAURA: From my late friend Colin Thomas – “There’s no such thing as a problem, it’s only ever a challenge”
About the authors
Lyn McNicol (co-author)
Lyn is a former publicist for the BBC, working on programmes such as Balamory, Live & Kicking, Cbebies and CBBC.
Laura Cameron Jackson (co-author and illustrator)
Laura is an artist who has carried out work with the Kings Theatre in Glasgow, BBC Scotland and most recently, she has worked with severely disabled children and adults with Sense Scotland, Visibility and Artlink Central.