Several friends have been sharing very personal stories online recently about their childhood, their challenges, their career mistakes, their changes, their everything. I’m not one of those. I’m a private guy, and guess the one thing I’ve shared that most people appreciated is my blog about: the greatest thing that ever happened to me was redundancy.
However, I have decided to share something, and the reason I’m doing it is that, like my friends, you have to see the silver lining in this storm. Some people say that 2020 was the worst year ever. Their dreams went up in smoke; their personal and professional plans were put on hold; they burned their way through savings and finances are in a mess; being locked down with the family is the worst experience ever, with arguments on regular occasion; the queue for divorce lawyers is growing longer every day … and more.
I’ve been through all that too, but 2020 was a great year for me. I spent more time than ever with my twin four-year old boys and we got a puppy, who I have a love-hate relationship with (he loves me and I …).
Anyways, during the lockdown, quite early on, I would read stories to my boys every night. We would have superhero stories in the daytime – I’m The Hulk – and then nicer stories at bedtime about Gruffalos and Winnie-the-Pooh.
One day, I got fed up with reading these stories, feeling that Batman and Spiderman – even the Lego versions – were a bit too mature for four-year old boys, whilst Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson were not engaging the boys enough, and were maybe too immature for them. There was a gap in the market for small people – something that would excite them, but not too much fighting or scary stuff, and that would be adventures, rather than just sweet.
So, I dropped the books and decided to make up a story.
The story was a really silly one about a plate of food that comes to life. The plate of food has a slice of Victoria Sponge Cake, some Chocolate and Jelly on it and, for some reason, a sweet potato. They come to life because a ray gun beam hits the plate, and the food is transformed into Captain Cake, Lieutenant Chocolate, Sergeant Jelly and Private Potato.
They become the crew of the space ship The Sweet Candy and have to travel through space to sweetly go where no sweet has gone before.
The boys loved it, especially Lieutenant Chocolate, and so I started to make up stories every night. Before I knew it, ideas were flowing everywhere and I’d written many stories about The Candy Crew – as Captain Cake, Lieutenant Chocolate, Sergeant Jelly and Private Potato became – on their spaceship The Sweet Candy.
As I had these ideas, I decided to float them past my publishers, Marshall Cavendish, and was amazed when they came back to me with a contract for five books about their exploits and adventures.