Aiming to show his daughter Myla that even though we cannot travel during lockdown, we can go anywhere in our imagination, one man wrote and illustrated his first children’s book while he was furloughed.
Born and raised in Aberdeen and now living in Inverness, Brian Morrison, who works as a health and safety advisor for a construction company, finally found the time to finish his children’s book Back in Time for Breakfast.
Brian said: “I had a five-year-old daughter at the time and I was reading her a bedtime story about a boy counting elephants to try to get to sleep and she looked up a bit puzzled by the idea and asked why the boy was counting elephants and I had to say that I really didn’t know because you’re meant to count sheep.
“And she looked puzzled again because she’s never heard that either.
“As I left, I could see her thinking about this and just as I walked downstairs, the first couple of lines (about counting sheep) came to me and I thought I better write that down and then I just kept writing and writing.”
Brian’s daughter Myla and her little cuddly toy Rufus are the stars of the book. The talented author said she also inspired the title of the book.
He said: “When I was writing the story, I had a vision of Myla going on all these crazy adventures and then I could see an image of her telling me all these stories.
“She likes to tell me stories about all these places she’s been to (in her dreams) when we’re sitting having breakfast and I’m just nodding my head, thinking ‘what an imagination you have’ and then I thought that maybe she should have some evidence to show me that she’s actually been to all these crazy places.
“I just had a vision of her showing me gold coins that had dragons and mermaids on them at a breakfast table.
“I was also thinking that she’d have to get back from her adventures by breakfast time so she doesn’t get busted, hence the name Back in Time for Breakfast.”
After finishing writing the book, Brian read it to his wife Rona who suggested he create some colourful illustrations for it.
Encouraged by the support of his friends and family, Brian also sent a draft and some illustrations to publishers and after verifying all the book’s characters were his original idea, London-based publishers Pegasus said they would print the story once the book was finalised.
“At this stage, there was still a lot of work to be done,” said Brian who was still working full-time at the time.
“Then the whole Covid-19 thing happened and I thought that furlough would give me the opportunity to work on my book, so I ordered a graphics tablet and it arrived just days before I actually went on furlough.
“It was a bit crazy how it worked out. I was furloughed for three weeks and my wife kept telling me not to rush it because she thought I could be on furlough for months, but I just wanted to get it done because if I didn’t, I would just be sitting on it for months.
“So for three weeks, I was working on it all day every day.
“And about 20 minutes after I told my wife the book was done, my boss phoned me to say I was going back to work on Monday.”
Brian, who studied 3D design at Gray’s School of Art taught himself how to use the graphics tablet by watching a number of tutorials on YouTube.
Brian said his friend and family – in particular his wife – have been incredibly supportive.
He said: “The whole country was in lockdown and my wife was home-schooling our five-year-old while heavily pregnant to allow me to work on my illustrations.
“My daughter was delighted with the book and when the copies came in, she brought some books to school to show her friends.
“I’ve been really blown by how supportive everyone was. When I shared the news on my social media, people I traveled with years ago in Canada and Australia – people I’ve not spoken to in years – got in touch to say they had ordered their copies.”
Brian is hoping to create a “Back in Time” adventure series.
He said: “The next book will be called Back in Time for Supper and I’ll work from there.
“I have already written the rhyme for the second book and my son Aiden, who’s now nine months old will make an appearance.
“I have now started illustrating the book. I have learned some new techniques on the tablet, so it’ll be a slightly different drawing style.
“But it’s a very long process, so I don’t know when I’ll be able to finish it.”
Back in Time for Breakfast is available in Aberdeen’s Waterstones, WH Smith as well as online on Amazon.