1When I first met Phredber, he'd just come from a fair-ground where he had been waiting I think, to find someone who understood him. It didn't take long for me to find the first bit of a poem in my head and write it down. Little did I know that from that single page of scribble, a whole new world would open up in the form of a book! I wrote the last verse after finding him sitting with his back to me, as if he wasn't listening at all,.. very much like he is in this picture here.
It took a little while for the rest of the first story to happen, I moved from where we were living and travelled a long way to here, our new home. It was then that I realised there was much more to this character than I had thought at first and soon, I had odd bits of the story popping into my head from all over the place.
2Strange as it may seem, I really do have some very odd dreams, well I guess we all do don't we? It was one of these dreams that became the basic story but, have you ever tried to write down a dream you've just woken up from? It had a very clear start from when I found him at the bottom of a tree, just like he is here.
I'm not sure if he climbs trees yet, he looks sometimes as if he might. From the dream it is certain he does manage to get about, with the help of a rather soppy old mutt I'm sure.
3The cover photographs for the book were done by Larissa Chilcott, a local artist and photographer. Somehow she actually managed to catch him as he squeezed through one of the many bear-sized holes he seems to find. I have never seen him do it myself but Larissa did! I think she must be magic, she is tiny, like a fairy or a pixie maybe. That has to be the reason.
Every time she visits, she gives him huge cuddles, as do a lot of other people too!
And while we're on the subject of magic, have you ever found that things often turn up when you thought you'd lost them, just not where you were sure they were, last time you saw them? Well, Phredber does that a lot and I really mean a LOT. I think it's the same sort of magic that I remember when I was younger, I would definitely fall asleep on the sofa and and then wake up in bed. That doesn't happen these days but I wish it would.
4The artwork for the book was created by my gifted friend Bernard Stokes. He spent literally hundreds of hours on these and the detail is so tiny that even with a magnifying glass, there is still even more detail that I can't see without one. They are far more special than most art found in books but they really do make the story come to life in a way that photographs just don't mangage, quite apart from it being impossible to actually catch these characters getting up to their tricks!
Some of Bernard's pictures are now going to be made available as high quality prints from this website. The prints are pretty special and look beautiful, taken from very high resolution scans of the original artworks.
Carreg Cennen Castle is definitely one of the most interesting locations I have found near here. This where the golden egg stayed for a long, long time before it hatched and gave me Llewellyn, or Llewie for short. If you go there, you can actually go and see the cave for yourself, deep under the castle. It was Batty bat who met him first and because there were no other dragons to teach him to fly, Batty became his friend and showed him how because they both have very similar leathery wings.
Jimbo Bear is a very friendly character and he drives a van and a jeep but also pretty much anything he can fit into (he is a bit big for little things) He is always helpful if he can be and always seems to turn up just when he's needed. Having said that, he also pops up when you're not expecting him and surprises you with a "BOO!" Oh, and he just loves picnics, anywhere really but the woods are his favourite.
Bellamy Bear flies. No he hasn't got wings like Llewie or Batty silly, he flies aeroplanes and prefers slightly older ones. He also takes a camera with him to film where he flies and I think most of his stories will also become little films, with the help of the Amman Valley Radio Control Club I think some of the other characters would like to go with him. When he's not flying, he likes chatting to the birds and other flying things like dragonflies and butterflies, they seem to get on well too.