How a Bexhill author found inspiration for his children’s book Malamander at the beach

Thomas Taylor, author from Bexhill
Thomas Taylor, author from Bexhill

It was walking along Bexhill beach at low tide that writer Thomas Taylor found inspiration for his latest children’s book Malamander.

The novel, a gothic tale of a seaside adventure, was published at the beginning of May and has already been named Waterstones’ Children’s Book of the Month.

Mr Taylor, a father-of-two, drew heavily on his experiences of beachcombing and walking his ‘demanding’ rescue dog on the beach in Bexhill for the story.

He said: “I probably wouldn’t have written this book if I hadn’t walked that beach at low tide.”

Mr Taylor and his family, who had been living in France, settled in the town in 2010 almost at random after falling in love with the south coast while visiting friends in Lewes.

“We’ve really come to love it,” he said. “It’s a great little town, it’s really got everything you could want.

“It’s got a great sense of place and the beach is fantastic at low tide.”

He also drew on Hastings Old Town for inspiration for the setting of the novel – the fictional Eerie-On-Sea.

It is there that his protagonist, the Young Herbert Lemon, who is in charge of the Lost and Foundery of the fading Grand Nautilus Hotel, comes across Violet Parma and the story of a mythical sea creature.

Mr Taylor has written several books in the last ten years after starting his career as an illustrator for children’s stories.

In fact his first commission after graduating from art school was designing the cover for the first Harry Potter book.

He said; “It was my first job so I was very excited to see it come out.

“I had no idea it was going to be such a successful book.

“It’s an interesting line on my CV!”

Explaining his move to writing, he said: “I got a bit impatient waiting for stories to illustrate. I started to explore writing my own and found I really liked doing it.”

His latest book Malamander, which is aimed at children aged between eight and 12, attracted much interest from publishers, with Walker Books winning out against eight others for the world rights at an auction.

“There was a big buzz about it,” said Mr Taylor, who hopes to write five books in the series altogether.

His success so far is all the sweeter considering Mr Taylor had almost been considering moving away from writing altogther.

“It’s quite a turnaround for me,” he admits.

“I wasn’t sure that I would really continue writing. Writing is a very difficult career to progress in.

“I was thinking about concentrating on illustration again.”

But he carried on writing Malamander over a period of 18 months and said: “I’m obviously pleased I persisted.

“In many ways it’s the first time I’ve written in a voice that really feels natural.”

To find out more about the book, visit eerie-on-sea.com

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