Allow me to tell you three tales about three tales. My latest creation, Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales, is a collection of very different short stories for kids and colourful illustrations brought together for one book. This is the story of how they happened.
Imagine, there I was, sitting, doing nothing in particular and listening to Talksport Radio, a United Kingdom radio station that I listen to all the time. It always reminds me of home. That was a sad day. An English football legend, Ray Wilkins had died. He worked on the station and was an all-round great guy, so the listeners and presenters were eulogising about him. It was heart-warming that he had affected so many lives in such a positive way.
Suddenly on the Jim White radio show, someone called in wanting to remain anonymous. It turned out the mystery man was an ex-soldier who was homeless. One day he met Ray Wilkins and Ray bought him a sandwich and sat with him a while, even telling someone on the phone he’d call them later because he was busy (see, told you he was a great guy). Anyway, he ended up giving the man twenty pounds, so he could spend the night in a refuge. While he was there he happened to meet some charity workers and was taken off the street and given a chance to start a new life. A chance he grabbed with both hands. In tears, he said how he had a home and a beautiful girlfriend now. I was moved.
Inspired by how Ray had affected this man’s life, just by showing a little kindness, I wrote a story based on what I’d heard that day. Certain parts are real conversations I’ve had with homeless people giving it a real-life feel ‘Home’ is a gritty tale with a beautiful message that comes from a real-life situation.
Then a couple of weeks later I was thinking (Oh no, here I go letting you know how crazy I am!) about zombie books and movies, as you do. Why are they still such a success when the story has remained unchanged for years and years? I asked myself.
Firstly, I wondered why people identify with zombies. My answer was: They are a mirror of the bad side of humanity. All-consuming, destructive, violent, relentless and unforgiving. Maybe that’s why we fear them, because they are our dark side.
Then I thought, wouldn’t it be weird if zombies and vampires lived in the same world? Wouldn’t the zombies be a threat to the vampire’s very existence by eating all their food? So, there you have the all-consuming zombies, the people, and the endangered vampire, the animals. Sounds familiar right?
And then I really went off on a tangent, what would happen if a vampire bit a zombie or the other way around? Surely the vampire would be infected by the zombie and the zombie be infected by the vampire (see, told you I was crazy!), that would surly equal a ZOMPIRE!
So, with that the idea for Flesh and Blood was born, bringing children’s horror stories, and comedy gore to this post-apocalyptic world. It is a one of my favourite short stories for kids with an original twist told from three points of view. We are introduced to the hilarious and gruesome Bleegly family, the zombie parents and their ravenous zombie children. The family Jones, three vampires who struggle to survive and Major Hollows the great warrior that protects the boundaries of Check Point Beta, the only safe place for humans.
Explosions and battles come thick and fast in this action-packed tale of survival. Gruesomely silly and scarily funny. And just like all my stories, there are positive messages a plenty between the pages.
And finally in my book of short stories for kids, I have been living where I do for six years and being a keen watcher of wildlife, I have watched the birds that come and go on my street. Now my favourites are the Aussie magpies. They are so social and smart, I have even built a relationship with the local tribe by offering them the occasional cashew nut. I recognise each one individually and they are even happy to sit on my lap. I’ve watched them so closely, I have concluded they even have a complex language they use to communicate.
And it’s not just the magpies that come and go each day, there’s cockatoos, kookaburras, lorikeets, myna birds, galahs, kurrajongs and crows. Each with their own unique characters.
I wondered what the world would be like from their point of view. I spent time imagining it. What is important to them, what their emotions or thought process could be and this led to me writing a Jungle Book style short story about the birds that live and die on a small suburban street near Sydney, ‘The Savage Wild’.
It’s a fictional account but I tried to capture that character of each of my feathered friends and the daily battle they face to survive. It holds no punches and at times can be brutal but as we know, nature is as deadly as it is beautiful and that was the message I wanted to convey.
I’m very proud of my collection of short stories for kids and I hope you enjoy the emotional roller coaster that is Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales and the valuable lessons that it will teach your children.
Barry Brunswick is a children’s author. You can buy his children’s books on Amazon, The War of The Turnips, The Secret Tale of the Cupboard Gnome, short story collection Barry S. Brunswick’s Tall Tales and Dreamland Part 1 The Fabric of Dreams. Follow Barry on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.