Interview: Author C.M. Gillott

Today, Kid Lit Reviews welcomes C.M. Gillott, author of Nelson ‘N Deck: How the Adventures Began.

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C.M. Gillott

Nelson ‘N Deck and Friends:

How the Adventures Began

48 Pages  Ages: 4 to 9

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.Hi, Chris. Welcome to Kid Lit.

Please tells us, who are Nelson and Deck?

Nelson ‘n’ Deck are the lead characters in my children’s adventure book series set in London, England that, along with their friends, magically interact with the two children – Jack and Keira

NELSON is a funny-looking pigeon who was born in a nest at the top of Nelson’s column in London. He was born with black feathers around one eye which gives the appearance of a ship captain’s / pirate’s patch and he also has tuft of feathers on his head that are shaped a little like a sea captain’s hat – hence the name Nelson after Admiral Horatio Nelson.

Admiral Horatio Nelson was a famous officer in the British Royal Navy who died at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square, London was built in 1840 to commemorate him and is a famous landmark for visitors to see when they come to London. There are usually loads of pigeons around Trafalgar Square.

DECK is a special and fun-loving open-topped, big, red, double-decker Routemaster bus (which is a much loved design of London bus and well-known around the world). He used to be a sight-seeing bus, before being lovingly restored by his owner, Harry Var (which is a play-on-words for Arriva – one of the bus operators in London).

Of all possible animals, why a pigeon?

Well this is quite a long story!

In summary – in late 1999 and early 2000, I actually wrote the book series initially to be called Cab ‘n’ Deck and Friends with a Taxi and a Bus being the lead characters…rather than Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends. The written story then stayed on the shelf at home collecting dust.

In 2006 when things changed in the book publishing world, I decided to start exploring how to formally setup a company to enable me to publish my book series and then associated follow-on merchandise. As part of this process, I decided to trademark the Cab ‘n’ Deck name and approached intellectual property lawyers to assist me. They advised me that I may be infringing copyright designs of a Taxi and Bus which could get me into hot water from a legal perspective – which is not what I wanted. They said though that animals were ok, especially if there were distinguishing characteristics for those animals that I could incorporate.

I then went away and checked whether the Taxi and Bus designs I was planning to use in my illustrations would indeed infringe any copyright designs. The Routemaster Bus design for DECK was not protected anymore and could be used – which was ideal. However, the Taxi design for CAB was protected. I approached the taxi company to find out whether it was ok to use their design. The answer came back that yes it was fine, but I would have to pay a royalty for every book I published.

Since I was trying to maximize the money I raised from the sale of the books to go towards children’s charities, I decided to switch the lead character to a Pigeon – which are also associated with London…and hence Nelson the funny-looking pigeon from Nelson’s column was ‘born’.

This has actually worked out for the best, since in my follow-up books, having a bird as one of the lead characters gives me the flexibility that I wouldn’t have with two vehicles that could get stuck in traffic! Nelson can soar over London and move quickly from place to place – unrestricted by traffic jams. Also the feedback I have had from Mums and children was that they like the combination of a bird and a bus in the books and for some people I am told there is an ‘Aaaaah’ factor with having Nelson…especially in the story when he explains where he was born!

What one thing is the most exciting to see or do in London?

There are many exciting things to see and do in London for children, families and visitors – it would take many pages of writing and even then I am not sure I would do the City justice.

Going on the London Eye http://www.londoneye.com/ is a favourite of mine to get a brilliant 360 degree bird’s eye view all around London and the various key sights…also at the same time just underneath the London Eye is the London RIB Voyages http://www.londonribvoyages.com/index.php  which are various speedboat trips up and down the River Thames which is brilliant fun for the family and enables you to see many sights from a different perspective

 You own a company called Star 789 Limited. What fun things does your company set up for kids?

We have done a number of fun things to date with and for kids:

a)  Nelson ‘n’ Deck have been read in schools (Primary / Elementary) and we are planning some school visits as part of teaching children more about London.  A couple of our school references are on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/1848766688/ref=dp_db_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

b)  We have done fun-pages as part of competitions we have run in various Family, Mum/Dad and Parent magazines.

c)  We also have worked with various London organisations to jointly promote them and our books, such as

The London Transport Museum – one of the key locations in my story

http://www.ltmuseumshop.co.uk/for-kids/books/product/nelson-n-deck-and-friends-how-the-adventures-began.html

Crest of London’s – The Crest Bear children’s club

http://www.crestoflondon.co.uk/categories/london-books–maps/products/nelson-n-deck-book/

d)     We have been helping support children’s charities by going out and raising money with them and giving them the proceeds from the sale of our book.

You can see some of our pictures on our Star789 Facebook Account www.facebook.com/Star789Ltd

The charities we are supporting to date are:

   1.  London Taxi Drivers Fund for Underprivileged Children (LTFUC) http://www.thelondontaxidriverschildrenscharity.co.uk/

2.  The Mayors Fund for London

http://www.mayorsfundforlondon.org.uk/

Does the black cab that the kids see at the museum have a name?  If so, what is it and why is this its’ name?

Yes the name of the Black Taxi the children met at the London Transport Museum is called CAB.

As with most of the key and varied characters that Jack and Keira have and will interact with as the Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends series progresses, I have tried to use character names that children can remember and immediately associate to the characters directly i.e.  who/what they are or what they do. For example,

Deck being a Double-Decker bus,

Also I have wanted to have character names that are play-on-words to appeal to Mums, Dads Grandparents and teachers reading the story to children i.e.

Noel Edge (being the owner of CAB the Black Taxi) with his name being a play-on-words for ‘The Knowledge’ which is the driving test that all London taxi drivers have to take and pass prior to being able to operate around London to demonstrate that they have an intimate knowledge of the geography of London streets, important buildings etc.

We have loads of fun characters with names that are play-on-words that will be introduced in the follow-on books.

In most places I have visited the cabs are yellow. Why are the London cabs black and who decided this?

It’s a funny thing and more as a result of keeping costs down, but there has never actually been a law stating that London Cabs should be Black and nobody decided that colour – in fact they can be any colour!

After the Second World War in 1947 and 1948 when two types of CAB were introduced, the Oxford and FX3 (from two different companies), the makers supplied them in black as a standard colour. There were very few buyers who wanted to pay the extra money for a different colour and so they remained black for several decades.

In addition, the black colour for London Taxis has been cemented in peoples’ minds around the world due to pictures and films over the years (as one of the symbols people instantly recognize as being in London) and has in the main stayed this colour. This differs from places like New York where I believe the colour yellow was chosen following a University survey as to which was the easiest colour to spot!

If Deck could eat, what would be his favorite snack, sandwich, drink, and dessert?

Aside from various combinations of food and drink containing engine oil, which are probably best for him, if he could eat he would enjoy a McDonalds ‘Go Large’ Big Mac Meal with fries, strawberry milkshake followed by a hot Apple Pie to keep him going!

He might find it a little difficult though to open the small Ketchup and BBQ sauce containers, to dip his fries in, using his teeth or wheels…and so might need some assistance there!

On a Friday he likes to enjoy some classic English Fish & Chips – especially near the seaside!

You came up with the idea for the Nelson ‘N Deck series nearly a decade ago. What have you done in the past ten years to prepare yourself to write this children’s book series?

I was born in London and so it feels like home when I go there. Working and visiting family & friends in London, on a regular basis over the last 10 years, has enabled me to get on-going and  firsthand inspiration and ideas for the various storylines.

After writing the outline for ‘How the Adventures Began’ in 1999/2000, I waited until the change in the book publishing world, for example seeing the introduction of eBooks and the new technology around printing colour books, before starting to publish it.

In 2006-7 I protected the Nelson ‘n’ Deck name by Trademark.

It took me two elapsed years from 2007-2009 to find the right illustrator for my books. The reason that it took so long was that I had initially searched and found the children’s illustrator I wanted in 2007 and saved their details on my PC so I could contact them again at the appropriate time.

In early 2009 when I was ready to engage him to start work, I had the misfortune that my PC completely died suddenly (which could not be recovered) and I lost all the stories I had typed up and also the illustrator’s name! I learned a BIG lesson there around buying and using external Data backup devices to protect against PC issues!

I therefore had to begin my search again to try and track him down. I could not find him and eventually found another illustrator (who eventually became my Nelson ‘n’ Deck illustrator – the brilliant Stacey Roscoe (www.staceyroscoe.co.uk ) who had a very similar illustration style (Disney-esque) to the person I had first found.  I arranged to meet Stacey in late 2009 to discuss and agree working together.

Just before I met with Stacey, I amazingly found again the other illustrator’s details and took them with me when I met her. I explained the story to Stacey and showed her the details and she just laughed. When I asked her why she was laughing, she told me that by pure coincidence she had been his student at University while doing her degree!! She had liked and adopted his style.

Stacey was brilliant in taking my story idea and then coming up with the fabulous illustrations that can be seen in our book. Stacey also illustrated our “Beware! Beware of Mr Tyder” mini iBook for Apple devices only which tells the story of a cheeky, tickling Spider with yellow fluffy gloves and a bright green vest, who loves to sneak up on children and tickle them, before scurrying back to his house.

How do you research and decide which places around London to use in the books?

There are so many events going on in London every year and great places to visit and see, that I am really spoilt for choice in what to choose for my storylines.

I like to subtly incorporate facts into the storylines, so that as children read the story they are also learning a little about London at the same time.

Having lived in and around London for most of my life, including working there, I have first-hand experience of which places and events to be able to put into each story.

The key thing is finding settings and events that will appeal to children.

How has London hosting the Olympics this past summer transformed the landscape from when you were a little boy experiencing London?

2012 has been an amazing year for London with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in June followed by the fantastic Summer Olympics and Para-Olympics in July & August – which has really elevated London onto the world stage and mindset.

I really encourage people to come and see the amazing history, architecture and sights on offer in London – there is so much to see and do!

My fondest memories of London, when I was a boy, include being taken with my sister and cousins every Christmas to the annual Christmas Festival at the Royal Albert Hall by my grandparents and parents. After the show, before going home, we always used to go along to Oxford Street to see the Christmas Lights and to go into the world famous Hamleys Toy Store… where we got to choose a toy each to take home – just magical!

The changes since childhood and as a result of the Olympics means that there is a greater buzz as well as more to see and do such as go on the London Eye and see new buildings such as The Gherkin and The Shard which are making the London skyline stand out.

What would Deck say are his and Nelson’s:

…..Favorite feature?

Deck:   my big beaming smile!

Nelson:   his fluffy, tufty feathers on top of his head!

…..Best quality?

Deck:  I am very loyal to my friends

Nelson:  his intuitive nature to know when danger is ahead

…..Worst habit?

Deck: revving my exhaust in lots of traffic, just for fun, to make a load of smoke!

Nelson:  he must have ants in his feathers as he finds it really hard to sit still for a minute…unless he is riding on my top deck

How would Nelson answer those same questions about himself and Deck?  

…..Favorite feature?

Nelson:   my speedy wings to help me get around London as fast as possible

Deck:  his open-topped roof gives me the perfect landing and travelling platform when required

…..Best quality?

Nelson:  my ability to make and keep a close network of contacts & friends around London to help monitor and keep an eye on any trouble and my nemesis (Count Ray Van Claw) and his network of henchmen

Deck:  he does everything he can to help his friends when they need him  

…..Worst habit?

Nelson: I can sometimes talk a little too much without pausing for breath…or so I’ve been told!

Deck:  he likes to have a big snooze after filling up with fuel…oh and he snores a lot!

In this series, what other stories or adventures are planned for the kids?

I currently have a further seven Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends adventure storybooks already sketched out and I am in the process of writing book 2 in the series at the moment. Book 2 introduces some new characters to readers …including a nemesis character to Nelson!

Is there anything you would like to say to everyone reading this interview?

Yes, I really hope you enjoy the first book in the Nelson ‘n’ Deck series: How the Adventures Began – which introduces the key characters of the series and sets the scene for the follow-up books. Please keep an eye out for the follow-up books in the series.

Our Kids Book Trailer on YouTube for Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends: How the Adventures Began can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/-A7TgCCw5Dw

To find out more about our Star789 company, childrens’ stories and aims to help children’s charities with the proceeds from our company – please feel free to visit/bookmark, like and follow us at

a)      our website      www.star789.co.uk

b)      on Facebook    www.facebook.com/Star789Ltd

c)      on Twitter       www.twitter.com/Star789Ltd (@Star789Ltd)

There is a choice of purchase options for the book:

Paperback Version:

The book is available to buy as a perfect-bound, full-colour paperback with colour illustrations on every other page within the book to bring the story to life and a glossy cover.

a)      You can buy the paperback direct from our website at www.star789.co.uk (where you can see customer feedback reviews) which then directs you (in the red menus on the left) to our publisher’s website http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=1488 to order copies.

b)      If you would like a personally author signed copy please email me at info@star789.co.uk with the message of your choice and we can arrange payment and getting it packaged/posted out to you. Personally Signed books are not available through any other channel than direct though us.

c)      You can also buy the book from places such as the London Transport Museum, Amazon.com and other book retailers using the unique book number:

ISBN 978-184876-668-6

Enhanced eBook Versions

a)      An enhanced Apple iBook version is available to download immediately from the Apple iBookstore. This is perfect if you have an Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod since it really shows of the colour illustrations in the story with the backlit screens. In addition, if your chosen iBook reader has internet access, you can click on most of the illustrations within the book, while reading the story, to be directed to a London related website to learn more about London, aligned to where you are in the story. When finished, you can switch back to the story in iBooks to continue reading. It acts as useful mini-guide to keep of some of the places in London. All our Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends series of iBooks will incorporate this feature enhancement.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/nelson-n-deck-and-friends/id429623670?mt=11

b)      An Amazon Kindle eBook version is also available to download immediately too

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nelson-Deck-Friends-Adventures-ebook/dp/B0055T3GR0

Finally, thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you would like to get in touch with us, please email us at info@star789.co.uk and we look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Chris

Author: C.M. Gillott

Thank you Chris.

If you’d like to find out how all of the above turned into Nelson ‘ Deck and Friends: How the Adventures Beganstop by right  HERE!  tomorrow. (after midnight tonight)

Nelson ‘n’ Deck and Friends: How the Adventures Began

C.M. Gillott
Stacey Roscoe
Troubador Publishing Limited
9781848766686
48 Pages  Ages: 4 to   9
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If  you would like to learn more about author C.M. Gillott, or his series Nelson 'N Deck and Friends, please refer to all the links above. I think Chris has offered up all the links.

6 thoughts on “Interview: Author C.M. Gillott

  1. Pingback: Kid Lit Reviews – Author Interview with C. M. Gillott | Star789

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