When it comes to blue sky thinking triumphs, author Dan Walker must be unrivalled.
It was while gazing upwards and watching fluffy white aeroplane trails spreading heavenwards that he had the inspiration for his debut children’s book Sky Thieves.
Now the swashbuckling, fantasy adventure set in the clouds has been shortlisted for the Brilliant Book Award 2018 and Dan, 34, is in hot demand to talk at schools and bookshops all over the country.
As he is Derby born and bred, and lives at Trowell, it was a must that the organisers of the Derby Book Festival signed him up for a talk at this summer’s event in June and he is looking forward to the honour.
“I love writing and I love to meet people who are passionate about books. Most of all I love meeting enthusiastic young readers and talking to them about how I became and author; my childhood growing up in Derby and my passion for computer games, films and books,” he explained.
As a child Dan used to devour the Hardy Boys series of books and was a regular at Allestree Library.
“From then on I was always reading whatever I could get my hands on. I have stories from books, movies, Japanese computer games and comics all swirling about in my head.”
The author was a student at Woodlands in Allestree and studied English at the University of Derby. Since then he has worked in various bookshops, libraries and schools and currently helps out at a specialist autism centre in Long Eaton.
It was while working at Waterstone’s when he was 22 that he decided he fancied the idea of writing himself and ever since he has been setting time aside every week to write – while holding down a day job to pay the bills.
He says he is lucky to have the full support of his very patient wife Dominika who handles all the administrative work and marketing for him. In fact he considers her such a part of the team that he refers to everything he does by saying ‘we’.
As with most authors he didn’t get published straight away – you only have to do the maths on his age to work that one out – but he says he came frustratingly close at one point.
“We sent it backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards to one guy in London but just as we came to making a decision…well you know what happens next,” he said with a sigh.
“I tweaked it and made some changes such as shortening the start and then thought I would have one last go at throwing it out there trying to find an agent who would push it for me.”
It seems the rewrite made all the difference because Dan suddenly had three agents to choose from and eventually a book deal with Oxford University Press for another couple of books.
One of those was already close on finishing anyway so last August, just four months after Sky Thieves hit the shelves, the sequel Desert Thieves was out.
“It really has been a fantastic 12 months for me and I am looking forward to what 2018 has to offer – especially the Derby Book Festival.”
For details of Dan’s books go to http://www.danwalkerauthor.com
To find out more about the Derby Book Festival click here.