Monday, 24 October 2016

The Inspiration Behind The Milly’s Magic Quilt Stories

A Guest Post by Author and Artist Natasha Murray

I really enjoyed creating and illustrating these books and hope that children 5+ will enjoy Milly and Patch’s adventures.

Milly’s quilt is made up from fabric that once belonged to some colourful characters with stories to tell. Some of the patches are from her baby blanket. One night, Patch her pet rabbit appears on her bed and Milly discovers that if she holds her hand on one of the squares they are both transported to a magical land.

As a child, I enjoyed the TV cartoon series ‘Mr Ben’ and loved seeing where the changing room at the fancy dress shop would take him. This was really what inspired me to write these books. 

There have always been rabbits in my life and one named Napoleon, I loved dearly. She was a blue grey colour and we thought she was a boy until she had babies. Napoleon got sick once and I crept out in the dark and sat in a sleeping bag on a step near to her hutch with her in my arms and stayed there all night. I am glad to say that she recovered. If I had been allowed, then I would have had Napoleon live in my bedroom with me.

It’s always fun to look at drawings and work that you did when you were a child and some of my stories were strange and I wonder what was going through my head at the time. The idea for ‘Humbert the Lonely Giant’ came from a story I remembered writing when I was at secondary school. I have always loved reading and thought the library was an exciting place to be. I enjoyed fairy tales and especially loved Enid Blyton’s The Wishing Chair and The Faraway Tree in the Enchanted Wood.

I grew up in North London and lived near to a playing field surrounded by trees. My friends and I would make camps, hideout and live out magical adventures there. Make believe was always an important part of our lives. We also loved riding our bikes around the block at breakneck speed.

I now live by the sea and spend a lot of time writing, designing, daydreaming and thinking up new and exciting tales for all ages.

To view all Natasha's books please click here

Thank you very much Natasha it was fun to read about your childhood and the inspiration behind your stories. Barbara

 Natasha's mention of secondary school reminded me of a very long, convoluted tale I wrote when I was at school. In my story, the action took place in a series of ‘lost' tunnels and ghostly lighthouses, based almost entirely on books written by Enid Blyton.  After I married and left home, my mum had the very good sense to consign it to the dustbin. Had she not I might well be in trouble for plagiarism!

Did you write stories when you were a child?  Have you continued to write or is it just something you did at school?


33 comments:

  1. Ahhhh, to create books. Again, this is what I did all day long as a child, living in a part of the city where it was dangerous to go outside to play, but thank goodness my mother gave me pencils and brown paper grocery bags to use to make my stories. What a lovely story here, and I've never heard of this....I so love visiting your world, Barbara! Be well and have a lovely new week!

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    1. Hello, lovely Anita! Your mother was a very wise woman she gave you a way to express your creativity.

      The story of Milly’s quilt really appealed to me. I’ve always loved stories about magical lands and have an idea for one of my own. Mind you, I’ve had that idea for many years but am yet to write a word. I have no excuse now I’m retired so maybe, just maybe …

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  2. I loved Mr Benn...But then, l love ALL children's books!
    Loads of pictures and so few words...Brilliant..! :).
    And the TV series from the BBC in 71/72 were classic...
    And, still funny and meaningful to this day! Good old Mr
    Benn...! :).

    Mr Benn's adventures take on a pattern. Mr Benn, a man wearing a black suit and bowler hat, leaves his house at 52 Festive Road and visits a fancy-dress costume shop where he is invited by the moustache, fez-wearing shopkeeper to try on a particular outfit. He leaves the shop through a magic door at the back of the changing room and enters a world appropriate to his costume, where he has an adventure (which usually contains a moral) then before the shopkeeper reappears to lead him back to the changing room, and the story comes to an end. Mr Benn returns to his normal life, but is left with a small souvenir of his magical adventure. Additionally, scenes before and after his adventure usually have some connection to it, such as the games the children are playing in the street as he passes.

    Lovely name for a rabbit..Napoleon..HeHe! Did he hop about with his
    right paw tuck into his fur..shouting..."Who's boots are those, who's
    boots are those"???
    And..a distant voice says..."Oh! There just Wellington's". :0).
    (sorry..best l can do for a Monday)..!

    Write stories...? No! I don't have the patience to read them let
    alone write them...! :).
    Oh! Barbara...I'm having to take Scottish language lessons, to
    understand and read the 'Broons' book l won in the last post!
    Och Aye the Noo! :0)))).

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    1. Keep the heid Willie ye wulnae be needin nae scottish leid lessons Jist keep reading! Alternatively you could use this translator http://www.whoohoo.co.uk/scottish-translator.asp (which is what I just did).

      I also love Mr. Ben, my son Steven and I used to watch it together when he was a wee boy. I also love what you said about Napoleon and Wellington! You really should write stories Willie you would be so good at it!
      Och Aye the Noo to you too ;-)

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  3. As a child I used to have a rabbit called Roy, (I know, a rubbish name) and perhaps for that reason it never missed the chance to bite me, even through heavy leather gloves when I fed it. Despite that I did like his spirit.

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    1. Maybe Roy bit you because he didn’t like his name. :) Were you a fan of Roy Rogers by any chance?

      Have you bought that sweet little dog yet? You know your daughter is going to win so you might just as well accept the inevitable.

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    2. Roger....Roy is 'not' a rubbish name...!
      It is my third christian name...
      William Douglas Roy John ------.

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  4. It must have been fun creating and illustrating this book. The illustrations are lovely!

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    1. I think so too Linda, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

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  5. A magic rabbit and quilt! What a delightful idea.

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    1. I couldn’t agree more Bish, thanks for commenting.

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  6. I love the idea of a magical quilt. My grandmother's beautiful patchworks do hold a lot of family history, and I treasure them for that as well as their beauty. Now I can imagine each patch coming to life and telling me its story.

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    1. Hello Lee, you are so lucky to still have your grandmother’s patchworks, what a wonderful legacy that must be.

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  7. I wrote lots of stories as a child, mostly about nature. My love for writing is one of the main reasons why I started my blog.

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    1. I didn’t know that Teressa, but it is certainly a good reason for starting a blog.

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    1. I think so too Sandra, which was why I was delighted to share it on my blog.

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  9. I did write stories as a child, but I wasn't sure if I could be a writer or not. I'm jealous of the fact that she gets to live by the sea!

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    1. Now here you are a writer – it must have been in your blood even then. I can never make up my mind about the sea. It would be nice to live there in the summer months but rather 'grey' during the rest of the year. Plus I love fields and trees so on balance I think I will stay where I am. Thanks for commenting Stephanie.

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  10. What an enchanting idea, Natasha - a magic quilt where each patch tells its own story. It reminds me of Lucy Boston (who wrote Green Knowe) who also made quilts, which you can still see at her house at Hemingford Grey - well worth a visit if you are in that area. Did you have or have you got a real quilt that Milly's is based on?

    I think a lot of us (Barbara included) were heavily influenced by Enid Blyton. Most of my stories I wrote at school aged 9-11 or so were straight Enid Blyton with mysterious caves, islands and tunnels, and groups of children running wild with no inconvenient parents in the way!

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    1. Hi Sue, I was certainly influenced by Enid Blyton and always wanted to be her! I remember reading about her preparing her manuscripts on a portable typewriter and promptly begged my parents to buy me one. Bless them, they went off to the local second hand shop and came home with something out of the ark. It was one of those where the keys were attached to long metal arms, which kept tangling up. I went to night school to learn to type and used my old fashioned ‘portable’ for many years but eventually changed it for a modern one. Of course, I should have kept them as they are very collectable now, but I was happy to move on to computers and quickly junked them – silly girl that I was! :)

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  11. My youngest daughter is obsessed with bunnies. Unfortunately for her, we are a family with cats. Good luck with your book!

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    1. Hi Tamara, maybe you could visit a petting zoo where there are bunnies. Alternatively, perhaps your daughter could help clean out the bunny cages in your local pet shop that might just be enough to make her decide to like cats more. :)

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  12. I never learned to type, but we do have two old portable typewriters in the family. A few years ago, when he was 10 or 11, my son set up his room as a 'private investigator's office' with old typewriter, old black telephone, hotel reception bell, magnifying glass and telescope! Today's children are fascinated by yesterday's technology!

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    1. Hello Sue, what a lovely memory for you and for your son, it also reminded me of something. My son probably about 11 or 12 had a book called ‘secret spy’ or something similar. On the front was a ‘spy glass’ which he used to unravel clues found inside the book – he had hours of fun with it. I’m pretty sure he would have loved your son’s private investigator’s office! :)

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  13. What a fun, fun story. Who wouldn't want to be transported to a magical land?

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    1. Absolutely Donna! I once asked for a flying carpet for my birthday – I can’t think why my parents didn’t buy it for me. :)

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  14. Look at the influence of Enid Blyton. We were all once in those enchanted lands and in those wishing chairs, weren't we? So fun to think of them now! Natasha's experience of sitting with Napoleon reminded me of the time I did with my cat, too. Just sat with her at the doorway, the soft fur under her chin tingling against the quiet night wind.

    Dear Barbara, I'm very sure you would have made those tales in lost tunnels and ghostly lighthouses your own! You are highly creative. Your stories would be absolutely magical.

    Also, I received your gift this morning. Thank you for the precious book and the beautiful card. Thank you for being a wonderful friend, too!

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    1. Indeed, we were Claudine! Thank you so much for your kind words about the tale that is only in my head at the moment but just might make it onto paper one day. If I only write it for my granddaughters, it will be better than not writing it at all. We are planning on going to see them in 2018; maybe I should make that my goal.
      I’m so pleased the little book arrived OK. Enjoy it and thanks for being always supportive and a lovely friend. xx

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  15. I made up stories in my head but I didn't really write them down as a child. When I was 12, I wrote a short story based on an experience I had in a department store which was published in the local paper. I am sure your story would have evolved into something of your own. It may be fun to resurrect it and see what happens.

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    1. Hello Darlene, it must have been so exciting to see your story in the local paper and a proud moment for your mum and dad.
      I just might resurrect that story one day. It still pops into my head from time to time so perhaps I should jot it down before I get too old to remember! :)

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  16. Always fun to learn where creative ideas come from. Best of luck with your colorful books, Natasha!

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    1. Thanks for visiting Marcia. I really enjoyed your selection of picture books this week.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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