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Dinosaur debut for writer Helen

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By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Dinosaur debut for writer Helen
AUTHOR . . . Helen Gordon

A GRETNA-born children’s writer has had her first book published — after taking inspiration from kids at her nursery day job.

“A big part of my work is making up stories on the spot – I’ve done that forever,” said Helen Gordon, author of ‘There Are Dinosaurs In My House’, a picture book for 2 to 5 year olds published recently by Austin Macauley.

The 25-year-old was struck with the initial idea walking home from work one day shortly before the pandemic last year and typed-out a half-baked “brief idea” of the story in a note on her phone.

“And then over lockdown I just decided to sit and write it,” she added. “I sent it to a couple of publishers and it went from there really, and because it’s not too big in-depth of a story it was quite easy to figure it out, sit for a few days and write it because it’s quite a basic storyline.”

Illustrations for the book were provided by the publisher based on sketches Helen had done alongside her original manuscript.

And she admitted getting “a lot of ideas” from the young children she cares for at the nursery, adding that they were a rich source of inspiration for her.

“The book has a lot of messages,” she explained. “It’s about inclusion, helping people and helping animals. It’s a couple of different dinosaurs, so it’s got your T-Rex, Pterodactyl – each page is one of these different dinosaurs in a different room of the house struggling with using the bath, which they’re too big to fit in, or trying to reach a cupboard, but they’ve got short arms, or they’re trying to figure out how to eat banans, and then at the end it’s got a summery picture where there’s a child helping them. So it’s the theme of helping people when they don’t fit in and working together to help people fit in.”

The writer, who’s originally from Gretna and now resides in Edinburgh, said she’s “always written short stories” and was persuaded to send something to publishers by family and friends.

“People kept telling me ‘that’s a really good idea, you should try and get that published’, so then I thought whatever, I’ll try and put it together as a manuscript and submit it to someone and it took me by surprise, really,” Helen said.

“So far, people seem to be liking it, especially the toddlers,” she added. “I’ve had a lot of people sending pictures and their little ones enjoying it and I’ve had a few reviews on Amazon, Google Reads and whatnot.”

Helen, who is currently in-between jobs and soon to take-up a management role at a new nursery, hopes to do more books.

“I was brainstorming some ideas continuing the same theme; Dinosaurs in my School, Dinosaurs in Space, that sort of thing” she added. “And I would like to do older children’s books at some point as well.”

* There Are Dinosaurs In My House is out now and can be purchased online from Amazon or Austin Macauley Publishers.

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