A new children’s fairy book has been inspired by the magical settings around Little Downham, Wicken Fen and Lode.
By day, Peter Crussell is a sales director for a fire detection equipment company based in Kent.
By night he’s better known as P. C. Crussell – the author and illustrator behind Tales from the Enchanted Forest, which was recently released on Amazon to rave reviews.
Aimed at seven to 10-year-old self readers or children aged from about five years if the story is read to them, Tales from the Enchanted Forest is the first in a series of fairy books penned and illustrated by the Little Downham author.
Speaking exclusively to Spotted in Ely, Crussell said its inspiration came from a painting he made a couple of years ago, depicting fairies flying around an apple core. After posting it on Facebook, he received several offers from people wanting to buy the painting.
“Several people who know me suggested that I should write stories based on the picture. I used to make up fairy stories to tell my children and their friends when they were young.”
Early last year he started writing and illustrating some short stories, hoping to complete at least five by the end of the year. The stories became Tales from the Enchanted Forest, an 186 page long fantasy novel, released on paperback, with a free Kindle download included in every hard copy purchase.
The self-published book takes its readers to the magical world of The Enchanted Forest, the woods surrounding the fictional village of Little Hamden, where Becca and her friend Emma spend their time playing with the Fairies of the Forest.
As well as selling copies in the UK, copies have been sold as far away as Sweden and America.
Crussell has been overwhelmed by the positive reception his fledgling novel has so far received.
“I guess writing is a leap of faith, and you never know if what you write is going to be liked by the audience or not. Because I spend time away from home, living in hotels, much of my writing is done in a hotel bar or restaurant. My illustrations are all done at home though.
“I did test my stories out on several mums with children as I was writing them and the feedback I received was very encouraging. I did make some changes based on some of the feedback I received from them. I am also blessed with family who read the stories and give me very frank feedback.”
The author recently donated a signed copy of his book to Great Ormond St Children’s Hospital after a friend who teaches at the hospital got in touch, wanting to purchase a copy to read to the children.
“I have also decided that I going to donate 20 pence from my royalties for every copy that is sold via Amazon (either paperback or Kindle) to Gt Ormond Street hospital.”
No stranger to writing, Crussell penned the lyrics and script to The Owl and the Pussycat, a full length stage musical, which premiered in Ely in 2014. Rowan Marshall, of Huntingdon, composed the music. Crussell also directed the production and took on the role of Turkey, who appears at the end to marry Owl to Pussycat.
Crussell said: “It was an interesting project because the poem on which it is based is only about a dozen lines, so when Rowan and I set about writing it we decided we would have a cast of animals and a band of Pirate Pigs as well as the characters mentioned in the poem.
“We also didn’t know what a Runcible Spoon was (mentioned in the poem) so we based the whole show on it, with the intention of explaining what it actually was – no spoilers, the show will be performed again. We are hoping to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe next year.”
An active member of CAT Theatre Company, based in Ely, Crussell appeared in their recent production of Sister Act, which was reviewed by Spotted in Ely.
Born in London, Crussell grew up in St Albans before moving to Cambridge as a teenager. He lives in Little Downham with his wife Jane and the couple have just celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary. They have two children, James and Lydia.
And finally, does Crussell believe in fairies?
You can purchase a copy of Tales from the Enchanted Forest by clicking here.