Children in Teesside schools have played a part in inspiring the story of The Dragon Diamond – a debut children’s book from Redcar author and teacher James Nicholson.
The Dragon Diamond tells the story of Freddy who is desperate to find treasure but, instead of diamonds, discovers a piece of coal. The beautifully illustrated picture book is aimed at 3 to 5 year olds though older children can read and enjoy it independently. It takes them on a magical adventure that shows how looks can sometimes be deceiving and how dull can turn into dazzling.
An initial book signing event at The Book Corner in Saltburn proved to be one of their busiest ever. With copies selling out and more ordered for Christmas, The Dragon Diamond has made a successful start.
James, 29, works as a primary school teacher across Redcar and Cleveland, a career that has contributed a lot to his writing.
“Working with and reading to children on a daily basis does give you inspiration,” he said. “You see what wonderfully creative ideas they come up with and it also gives you a feel for different writing styles. I have nieces and a nephew who are also keen readers and are very excited about the book.
“I have been thinking about writing for a long time and finally took the plunge. This particular idea came from a science lesson about life cycles and caterpillars changing into butterflies.
The whole project has taken about 14 months including completing seven drafts, reading it aloud a lot, searching for a publisher then completing the editing and polishing.”
James was delighted when Black Wolf Edition & Publishing in Scotland wanted to publish the book and agreed to his choice of illustrator, Tees-based graphic designer Catherine Kay who is also a friend.
“I was so impressed by Catherine’s illustrations,” he said. “They are beautiful and brought the story to life.”
James has already completed a second book and has ideas for at least another dozen stories. He is involved with the Society of Children’s Book Writers and has won a place on a mentorship programme for new writers.
James’ website www.jamesnicholsonauthor.com has been developed with local digital marketing company Duco Digital. It includes illustrations from his first book, competitions, tips, some of his own favourite children’s books, a newsletter, fun stuff including how to create your own dragon and even a recipe for Dragon Diamond cookies.
“I do find writing hard work but I really enjoy it,” he said. “Books are so very important for children in this digital age and I see in school how much they love hearing a story from a book and sharing their ideas with friends. Parents often ask about books too and I’m confident they will always play a very important part in children’s lives.”
The Dragon Diamond by James Nicholson is now available to buy online or direct from Black Wolf Edition & Publishing.
Photo: James Nicholson, author of The Dragon Diamond, with Olly Campbell-Mitchell at The Book Corner signing event.