Sebastian Hockaday Interview The 22 year old author of “Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen” - an enchanting children’s story - tells us how he went from business undergraduate to published author, and of his ambitious plans for future success. writing a poem about it and the words just seemed to flow. I think I had caught the writing bug! I started writing all sorts of ideas for stories and characters, anything that came into my head went straight into my notebook. However, it wasn’t until a few weeks into the beginning of my second year at university, I started to sketch characters and story ideas for a children’s picture book… and two years later, on 21st November 2014 I had my first 1000 paperback copies of Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen published! Had you always had a burning ambition to be an author? I’ve always enjoyed being creative and having fun, and English was one of my favourite subjects at school. I really enjoyed creative writing where I could let my imagination run wild. However, I’m sure my teachers will remember me as the boy who didn’t have a natural flair for writing, but who made up for it with some whimsical and ingenious ideas! I think the ambition may have always been there, but it wasn’t ‘burning’ until after my first year at university. I didn’t seriously consider writing a book until I was 19 and once the idea had taken hold, there was no looking back! I was just adamant I had ‘a book in me’ and it was up to me to show the world what I could do. Tell us about yourself I’m 22 and I was born in England, although I spent my childhood in Ireland with my parents and younger brother in County Dublin. I loved growing up in Ireland and wouldn’t change anything. It’s a beautiful country and the people and their way of life is something I’m glad to have learned and experienced. I moved to Haywards Heath in 2004 and went to Oathall Community College. At first it was difficult settling in; I had left behind my friends, my old school and essentially everything I knew as home. However, the Irish charm and accent worked well and I soon made friends. I enjoyed school and my favourite subjects were English and History. I then went to college and studied Economics, Business and Drama. 92 Although I enjoyed all my subjects at college it is safe to say that I totally failed my first year. I became a bit too laid-back with the freedom college gave to studying and as a result quickly fell behin d in my lessons. The last year of College was therefore very hard work to achieve the results I needed to get into University. I remember the last year wasn’t that much fun, but it was all worth it and I got accepted at the University of Westminster to study International Business. The first year of university was over far too quickly, but it was a lot of fun. I was back at home for the summer and I was sitting outside in the garden and I had decided I wanted to start writing about something. I sat there thinking when a spider in a web caught my eye. It kick started me into Why did you decide on a children’s book? I love cartoons and the characters in them, and I remember the many great books I read as a child where the characters were fun and exciting. Some of my favourite books are Winnie the Witch and nearly all the Dr Seuss books. These kinds of characters allow children to indulge in a bit of harmless escapism but they can also send out very clear messages to children what’s wrong and what is right. They can be very influential on a child growing up. So I decided to create a children’s picture book that encouraged positive thinking. Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen focuses on self-belief, which is something that is very important for every child; and by creating a beautifully illustrated book, I could appeal to younger readers and enable Bella Boo and Bloomer Fen to instil some positive thinking even at a young age. What was the inspiration for the storyline? My little brother and sister, aged 8 and 6, were a big inspiration. I wanted to create a story that would appeal to them and be something they will remember far into their adulthood. My childhood in Ireland also helped inspire the book’s garden with its little cottage in the middle - the countryside of Ireland is huge and has a magical fairytale feeling to it.