Believe it or not, it’s taken J.E. Narracott almost sixty years to actually sit down and write a children's book. It’s not her first book, she’s already written and had published a five-novel series for adults under a pen name, but it is her first series of books for children.
As a child, J.E. loved reading and dreamt about writing a children's book, just like Enid Blyton. In the fifties writing stories in class was encouraged, it was something a very young J.E. enjoyed doing. On one particular day, which she will never forget, a teacher asked her class to write about entering a room. Imagine her delight when the teacher chose her story to read out to the class. It began, ‘I plucked up courage...’ she has used this phrase in all her books, a little thank you, to that teacher for making a shy pupil feel special that day.
So what was the inspiration for the Tilly Millpepper series? Well, in her teens J.E. was lucky enough to have the love and friendship of a horse called Sam. In those days her family lived up a lane on the edge of an Essex village. The main gate to Sam’s field backed onto the lane and every school day, like clockwork, Sam would be waiting for her at that five bar gate. He would whinny the minute he saw her, then kick up his heels and canter to the fence surrounding their house. They used to have long talks together, obviously, she did the talking, but he was a good listener. Even after all this time she still feels emotional when she remembers her horsey friend.
With Sam very much in mind, J.E. wanted to write a story to include horses. She had a name for the main character, at least that's what she thought, but nothing she came up with seemed quite right. Then early one morning, a voice in her head said, ‘Tilly Millpepper’. She keeps an iPad next to her bed and very quickly wrote Tilly Millpeper down on the ‘notes’ page, and then drifted back to sleep. And so, just like that, Tilly Millpepper was born.
It has taken J.E. more than half a century to fulfill the dream she had as a ten-year-old girl and hopes you enjoy reading about the magical world of Tilly Millpepper, as much as she has enjoyed writing it.