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Richard Skinner - Author of “The Diary of a Junior Detective”

Friday, 9 February, 2018 -- joe

I attended Eltham from 1954 -1961. My favourite subjects then were, chemistry and physics and woodwork, (good ‘old’ Mr Cullen!). As far as English went I was, to say the least very poor. I think with hindsight I would have been diagnosed as dyslexic. I tended to do mirror writing, my spelling was awful and still remains in the ‘not good’ class. My writing was messy and I rarely finished any exam papers. The current practice of allowing extra time in exams for such as me was unheard of then!

I think therefore that Antony Barnard my English master at the time would be totally amazed by the fact that I have had a book accepted for publication albeit a children's one.

If it were not the advent of computers and their spell check and grammar check systems, I could not have achieved this task. I perhaps should not call it a ‘task’ as I actually enjoy writing now.

Having retired from a career in science I have taken up several art-based hobbies including writing, painting and music. I think Antony would be even more amazed by the comment I have just received from a retired school head. She asked me for a copy, as she now tutors children in English and wanted a possibly suitable book for this purpose. To quote her she says,” I had a brilliant afternoon reading about Ben, Katie, Chippy and friends. This is a well written, pacey story, please accept my congratulations.” She added that she could not wait for the follow up book. I have told her that I am actually working on this right now!

So why did I write this story? Several reasons come to mind. Firstly I used to read my own children bedtime stories and when the two of them who were close in age argued about which book to read I would say – well I will make one up. What do you want it to be about? Another reason is that I myself like reading detective stories and thought children might also like the adventure side to them. There did not seem to be many children’s books available about detectives and crime detection. Lastly I have two grandchildren whose ages are 10 and 12 – close to the ages of the heroes of my book. They enjoyed reading an early version and made suggested changes and put in some expressions that children of that age use. “Yay!” Well that might be used in book two!

This all goes to show that even at my age, (wok it out yourselves!) it is never too late to start a new career or hobby.

Richard Skinner - Author of The Diary of a Junior Detective