Monday, 18 July 2016

Writing Books for Children - Susan Keefe


What’s so special about the Toby’s Tails series of children’s  books?

I am Susan Keefe, the author of the Toby’s Tails series of children’s books. I was born in Essex in the UK, had an idyllic childhood, lots of animals, and from an early age I had an affinity with animals and a passionate love of them. My parents and paternal grandparents encourage my love of everything living, and my fondest memories are of walking with my granddad round fields and lakes learning country lore from him.

So did I have a career in journalism before writing my books? No, just a passion for animals and a deep longing to share with others, the childhood I had been so lucky to have. I believe fervently that many children in this modern world miss out on the simple joys of nature because they are too plugged into their iPod from an early age, and parents, desperate to earn more money don’t have the time to spend with them. Gone are the days when we made do and gave our children time rather than possessions.

In 2006 my husband Michael and I moved to the Pays de la Loire region of France. Late 2008 lost Czar, one of my two Golden Retrievers. Then a few weeks later in January 2009 we had to take our lady goat to say hello to her boyfriend. As we stopped the car, there peering out from the gate were a family of Border Collies. Is there such a thing as love at first sight, yes there is! One look at those liquid hazel eyes and I knew I just had to have him. By the time the goats had said hello we had agreed to buy our Toby and pick him up in two weeks.

So, as Toby grew up our bond became inseparable, we spent 24/7 with each other. Then one day, whilst Michael took a nap I sat at the computer and quite out of the blue started my very first book, Toby’s Tails. Michael was right from the start very encouraging, and Toby is always wrapped around my chair, as near as possible to me. The words just flew and soon the book, which chronicles Toby’s first year, his training, the animals and wildlife he encounters and life experiences was compete. Of course every book takes lots of editing and there is a lot of work from the book being ‘finished’ until it is ready for publishing. All the photos in the books are taken by me and are in colour, something I feel is very important, and the animals are our own.

As I have become known as a writer locally my French friends asked me why the books are not available in French. I realised they had a point, and now there are eight books in the Toby’s Tails series, and many are available in French and a couple in Spanish as well.

The latest book is one of two of the books which have been especially produced to raise money for charities. Toby’s Tails – Toby Visits Chats du Quercy (Toby et Compagnie- Toby rend visite - Chats du Quercy).

All the books have morals very subtly added. They all teach children about not only understanding and caring for animals, but also about the wonders of the natural world which are around them, and can be seen and enjoyed every day. One book, Toby’s Tails – Saying Goodbye to Lucky tackles the sensitive subject of the loss of a pet, however, it too has an uplifting message.

The books are available from all Amazon sites in Paperback and Kindle format :

Many of the reviews for them mention that the reader now looks on animals in a different way – music to my ears, as my message has been understood.

Toby and I are happy to attend events and I can be contacted for personalised copies either via the Toby’s Tails Children’s Books Facebook page or the contact form at the Toby’s Tails website

                                                                          Susan Keefe