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Interview – Ian Kaye, creator of The Shellies


Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Ian Kaye, author of the children’s book characters The Shellies. Welcome to the Showcase Lounge, Ian.

Ian Kaye: Thanks, wonderful to be here.

SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?

IK: My first careers involved the law, both practising and teaching. When I moved to the Yorkshire Coast I commenced writing about The Shellies’ adventures. My partner, Marie, is a published author and has provided more than enough encouragement to assist me along the way.  

SPS:  What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?

IK: Ideas tend to flow into my mind when I walk along the beach. I usually arrive back home and immediately search for a pen and scrap of paper to make some kind of scribbled record. The next stage usually involves thinking; a process which allows me to sit comfortably and for all intents and purposes look to be working. The most difficult part is to create the plot, this usually involves typing away in a quiet room. When complete I read out the script to Marie. Then it starts to become something akin to ping pong. She pings changes to me,( improvements and re-wording.) I send them back to her. This may well go on for several weeks. Whilst we are chopping and changing the story line, our friend and fantastic illustrator Joe is hard at work creating the images. Now Jennifer, a talented poet and musician has joined our merry band, so music, lyrics and songs will be created to fit alongside the story. 

SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?

IK: I originally had the idea about The Shellies in 1990. It has been a long process to get to this stage.

SPS: Where did the inspiration for The Shellies come from?

IK: In the moments between lectures the thought popped into my head. 


SPS: Can you tell us what a parent could expect if they picked up a copy of your latest story Rainbow in the Sky?

IK: Adventure, humour, inspiration and most importantly fun.

SPS: Do you set out to make the books purely fun or is there a message you are looking to get across?

IK: To have a happy positive outlook on life. A pragmatic approach, confident that anything can be achieved.  

SPS: What age group do you feel the book is best suited for?

IK : As a story to be read to a child I would suggest they would be suitable from the age of 3. If children wish to read the books themselves possibly from the age of 5, 6 or 7. It would really depend on each individual child. And the book would definitely be suitable for adults wanting to re-discover what fun it was to play on a beach, especially a beach full of stories.

SPS: Can you tell us about a few of the characters involved?

IK : Crabby as the self-appointed leader, likes to take charge and organize tasks to be performed, fond of inventing so he is. It was Crabby who invented the glider in this book. Barnacle, a seafaring adventurer, enjoys teasing Crabby and has adopted the habit of shouting out old sea customs; whenever Crabby is in ear shot. Pearl loves surfing the waves, she is known for her wisdom and pleasant nature. A willing worker who enjoys being with the merry band. Muscle, is well known for his strength and boldness. He drives the Land Yacht and journeys far and wide along the sands to assist Crabby. Poet, a more thoughtful individual, frequently writing the lyrics to the groups’ songs. He is in charge of Crabby’s code book. Rainbow is as light as a summer’s breeze. Crabby volunteered Rainbow to be the pilot of his glider. Cheerful and helpful.  Star is the ever wiling helper, adventurous and bright. Kitty has been friends of the group for many years. She journeys far and wide and acts as a look out for danger. The Boggles (Skipper, Tellins, Hoof and Sunset have joined The Shellies, along with Splash. ) 

SPS: We always like to take a moment to look at an author’s book covers. Can you tell us a little about how your cover to Rainbow in the Sky came about?

IK : Joe had the working title and the story outline, I guess the image speaks for itself.

Treasure Hunt

SPS: Moving on to Treasure Hunt would we be right in thinking this one is more of an activity book than the others in the collection?

IK : This is a move away from the story based book. 

SPS: What sort of activities could a reader expect to find?

IK : Examine the differences between sets of images to find letters in a code grid. The letters will spell out the location of the lost treasure, if the reader is correct.

SPS: You also produce ‘The Shellies’ videos. Can you tell us about them?

IK: The videos are undergoing a radical change at present, I will be making an announcement soon (I hope!)

SPS: With 4 books so far, how many more do you plan to do in the series, or is it just take it one book at a time?

IK: The next in the series to feature The Shellies is called Bookend Tales of Yorkshire. It is our intention to create several in this series, probably 2 a year.

SPS: Do you have any plans to venture in other genres or will you always stay with children’s books?

IK : The major change has been with the creation of an audio book which features music. This will be available as a download or as a physical cd. I have been discussing with Joe, Marie and Jennifer launching a set of education based books, helping to make learning fun, with The Shellies assistance of course.  

SPS: It’s probably a good time to ask what we can expect next from the pen of Ian Kaye.

IK : I am in the process of arranging a few Meet The Shellies events. There is the possibility of new songs and scripts to be performed at these gatherings

SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?

IK : It is a path which has taken many unexpected turns, an adventure I have enjoyed, I never thought I would be writing lyrics and collaborating with a musician in creating songs, delving into folk lore and mysteries.

SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?

IK :  There is a need to be pragmatic. Hard work and effort is needed.

SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?

IK :  Don’t bother about getting it right, just write it. (Alterations can be made later.)

SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…

IK : Marie Campbell (Author Strange World of the Brontes et al and my partner. She is engaged in writing another two books at the same time!) Joe Ellias (Illustrator and friend.) Jennifer Pederson (musician and friend.) 

SPS: Thank you for joining us today Ian, and all the best for the future.

IK : It has been fun thank you.

SPS: For more information on Ian Kaye and The Shellies, please do visit his Author page here.

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