Can you tell us a little bit about Fletcher and where the idea for him sprang from?
Fletcher is a kind-hearted but easily confused fox cub, doing his best to help others but often getting into muddles as he explores the world around him.
I had the idea for the character when my son asked me to fix an autumn leaf back onto its tree. That was the spark for the first Fletcher story, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves, but there’s a lot of my childhood self in Fletcher too. I spent much of my childhood roaming the woods of Richmond Park, climbing trees, collecting caterpillars, peering into ponds and getting to know the characters who later popped up in my stories.
Like Fletcher, I was also a bit of a worrier – I remember worrying about trees being hurt when other children were throwing sticks at conkers when I was a child. I think Fletcher would have found a way to save those trees – he always tries to help and never gives up.
Was it always your intention to write seasonal Fletcher stories?
I didn’t plan to write a seasonal series. The first two books, Fletcher and the Falling Leaves and Fletcher and the Springtime Blossom, happened to be set in autumn and spring – seasons of change in the woods, with lots for a little fox cub to get confused about. My publisher then suggested a Christmas story, and after autumn, spring and winter it seemed right to give Fletcher a summer adventure too.
We loved the idea of a seaside story, but for the first cycle of seasons we decided to stay in Fletcher’s wood with Fletcher and the Summer Show, so we could see the wood change over the course of a year. For the second summer book, Fletcher and the Rockpool, we’re very excited to be taking Fletcher out of his wood for the very first time. His first seaside holiday gives him a whole new world to discover and a new cycle to get confused about – the cycle of the tides.
You currently have 7 Fletcher stories…will there be more to come?
There will definitely be one more – Fletcher and the Stars will be published in October, finishing our second cycle through the seasons with a wintery night-time adventure. Fletcher’s wonderful Illustrator Tiphanie Beeke has filled the pages with gorgeously rich blues and purples and Fletcher makes an adorable new friend – I can’t wait for everyone to see the book! And there are always more Fletcher stories bubbling away in the back of my head – there is so much more in the natural world for our little fox to discover.
Fletcher is just in awe of all nature and his surroundings, how easy do you find it to capture that innocence and awe?
I still feel that awe myself – I stop to gaze at rainbows, watch clouds and catch reflections in raindrops. The shininess of buttercups, caterpillars turning into butterflies, the migration of birds – how can anyone not be in awe of the natural world? And I still have strong childhood memories – Fletcher and the Rockpool was inspired by my holidays on the Norfolk coast. I have never forgotten the feeling of climbing the dunes and seeing the beach for the first time each year – the smell of the pine woods, the warmth of the soft sand and the sudden dazzling blaze of the beach.
Capturing it on the page takes time – picture books have to do so much with so few words, but that’s why I love writing them. I can get lost for hours pondering the perfect phrase.
Do you have other characters with stories to tell waiting for their moment to shine?
I do have other characters tucked away, but for now my head is full of Fletcher – I love looking at the world through the eyes of a kind-hearted but confused fox cub!
Have you always wanted to write books and poetry or did this come later?
I’ve always written poetry – my mum still has poems I wrote when I was tiny and I clearly remember writing a poem after a night drive when I was nine. Eventually some of my poems found their way into anthologies, and picture books followed when I had my first child and found myself living in a picture book world.
Was there another animal you may have wanted Fletcher to be?
I think I briefly considered a squirrel, as Fletcher needed to climb a tree in the first book, but now I can’t imagine him as anything but the fox cub Tiphanie Beeke has so wonderfully brought to life.
The Fletcher series of books are published by Graffeg and are all available to purchase from your favourite retailer.