I often get asked WHY I wrote the Adventures of Brian. With an ever growing book collection many people we meet want to know how it was inspired and what comes next. So it seemed an apt time to share it with you, as the anniversary of meeting the little girl who would prove to be a game changer to my life is coming up soon. So here’s our story… the Adventures of Brian Back Story…
I’ve worked with children for my whole career, at 16 I worked in nurseries, progressing up to Nursery Manager and Early Years support roles within the local council. I additionally became a lecturer in early years and health and social care over 14 years ago so I suppose you could say that working with children and young people was in my DNA. I’ve always been a book worm and I love anything creative, as a child and teenager you would often find me with my head in a book or drawing something for a latest art project that was on the go. My bedroom was a haven for anything creative, with art boxes, paints and books everywhere!
I originally planned a storybook collection in September 2014, I was teaching 16-19 year olds at the time and I had the intention to write a book collection to help children to resolve their worries and habits. Like all good dreams it had sat there for a while, I knew I would get round to it eventually, but wasn’t sure when eventually would be. In December 2014 after a catalogue of events which changed my perspective on many things I left my teaching post and on leaving told my tutor group that I would be writing the books imminently. They were so supportive and one even bought me a note book to write my books inside!
However, time quickly caught up with me and purchasing a house took over my time, so the book collection sat as one of my ‘to do’ list jobs. I had made the decision to purchase a puppy once my house was complete and in November 2015 made the trip to Stoke on Trent to collect him, not realising that this would be the moment that effectively changed everything.
Brian, my new cockapoo, quickly filled up every moment of my time, he was the best type of best friend and finally bought some peace into my life, which up until that moment had evolved around running a business 24/7 or feeling like I never quite fit in. In December 2015 a friend asked about his breed as she was considering purchasing a puppy for her daughter who had a health condition, so she had a little companion when she was off school and to bring some love into life.
Darcey has ITP, a blood disorder which affects only 1 in 25,000 children. Standing for idiopathic thromboctopenic purpura it means that her body treats it’s platelets as foreign bodies and destroys them. This means that she experiences excessive bleeding, bruises and rashes and in particularly bad spells has had to be hospitalised for platelet, blood and immunoglobulin transfusions.
Darcey and Brian quickly fell in love with one another and soon after Boo (also a cockapoo from the same breeder) joined our friendship gang. Darcey and Brian remained firmest friends and at the mere mention of her name he squeals with excitement.
In June 2016 Darcey’s illness became chronic and her mum explained that she was worried as she did not want to sleep at night as she was scared that she would bleed. She asked if I could help and I offered to write her a hypnotherapy based bedtime story….The story, at the time a few pages of A4 card with scattered pictures of Brian and Boo entwined within them would become ‘Brian and Boo’s Big Adventure’ (later to become Brian and the Magic Night) and the rest, as they say is history. On giving Darcey her Brian based story one day in Brighton (along with a magic sleeping pebble) her mum said ‘so what’s happening with these books’ and gave me the push I needed to get started.
The summer of 2016 would become a memorable one, mainly of me screaming at the computer, begging for technical help in networking groups late at night and working long hours after I finished with clients in my therapy office. However it would also become a life changing summer. Having already written Darcey’s story I had made the decision that it would not be the first book in the series, and having sat in the garden one day watching Brian chase after a white butterfly our inspiration was born. 6 weeks after I set out on my mission I had written Brian and the Blue Butterfly, the introductory story of the Adventures of Brian collection. I should mention at this point that other than a small handful of friends this was a completely secret project from my family, friends and business networks, which added to the stress but increased the excitement (and stopped unrequited pressure and ‘how are you getting on’ questions). The launch date was scheduled for September 3rd, 2016 (Brian’s 1st Birthday) and over the weeks the logos were created, the book was written and illustrated and the party was organised.
On Brian’s first birthday, surrounded by those we love we released our first story, along with a lot of tears of happiness, joy (and a few of exhaustion). Brian and the Blue Butterfly was officially launched and received with love and made a little girl smile with joy as she held her first ‘Brian book’. A surprise to friends and family we were overwhelmed with the love and support we received. Those following weeks were far from peaceful though, we were soon caught up in writing again and the next story, rightfully, was Darcey’s.
Brian and the Magic Night was officially released in late September 2016. I will eternally recall and return to the video that Darcey’s mum sent to me of her in the moment of realisation that HER Brian story was now a proper book, as she squeals ‘You put me in your book Nicky, you put me in your book!’ I cry every time. These stories were for a little girl who was so brave, and when they light up her face they remind us why books (and Brian) are so important.
A number of books would appear over the next 15 months. In fact since September 3rd 2016 we have written 15 story books, 5 colouring books and recorded 14 audio books and 2 DVDs! Never let anyone tell you that time is limited, when your motivation is your two favourite little friends it’s amazing what you can achieve!
On our one year anniversary ‘Brian and Boo’s Big Adventure‘ became it’s own book (who would have thought our original story name would come back again?) and to celebrate Darcey’s fluffy friend Boo would grace our covers in her own special logo alongside Brian (just like it should be).
Each book has been inspired by a friend, family member or parent who has contacted us and the collection continues to grow as children we meet evolve the collection with their special requests and suggestions. Every book has been written and dedicated to those we love, our little idea in 2014 has definitely surpassed expectations. Offering a little peace, happiness or love to others through the Adventures of Brian has allowed us to help children resolve their thoughts and worries and for me to find some career satisfaction I could never have expected.
As for Darcey? We continue to fight against ITP, and she regularly offers me requests for particular books, for instance Brian and the Sparkly Rainbow was a particular request after a spell in hospital in April 2017. It was launched to a special Sparkly Rainbow party, with a rainbow cake and a book for children who have to stay in hospital. Darcey was officially promoted to ‘Official Book Tester’ in December 2016 and now quality checks each story before they are released for public consumption, alongside educating her nurses and doctors to Brian’s help whenever she gets a chance (I apologise to all the nurses but they make my little friend happy so we chuckle at her photos of her teaching). Darcey remains an integral part of our Brian team and our biggest cheerleader, her mum continues asking ‘so what’s next?’ and not allowing me to lose sight of our Brian Mission (we love her extra for that).
The Adventures of Brian was an idea that I had whilst sitting in a classroom teaching, Brian the dog appeared just when I needed to step back from working 24/7 and Darcey became the inspiration to get it moving. The Adventures of Brian continues to grow as Brian becomes an international dog (he’s now in the UK, America, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, Australia and Hong Kong – at our latest check). He’s supported charities to raise money for their services (Chestnut Tree House), he’s supported charities to ease the pain of bereavement and loss (Oscar’s Wish Foundation) and he’s entered nurseries, schools and homes in the last 15 months, we cannot wait to bring you his next instalments along with some fantastic guest speaking slots in 2018. Thank you to all who have supported our stories, shared them, purchased them or gifted them to others, we had a dream to change children’s lives by bringing them back to books they could share with their parents, we have been blessed that we have also given parents the words when they didn’t know what to say.
Here’s a background of WHY we wrote each book:
Brian and the Blue Butterfly – one little girls comments ‘why aren’t I like them?’
Brian and the Magic Night – to help Darcey Sleep
Brian and the Black Pebble – returning our gratitude to Richard (my teacher and mentor)
Brian and the Shiny Star – to offer Brian’s Auntie Gemma some love and peace after loss
Brian and the Christmas Wish – after a friend commented that she wished people remembered what Christmas was about
Brian and the Naughty Day – after Auntie Elise requested a ‘naughty’ book
Brian and the Funny Feeling – after a friend’s little one couldn’t let go of their worries
Brian and the Poorly Day – the story of when Brian had ivy poisoning
Brian and the Big Black Dog – the true story of when Brian met Keizer (the big black dog)
Brian and the Scary Moment – after one little girl couldn’t leave her mummy
Brian and the Proud Feeling – after one mummy was worried that her child couldn’t see her abilities
Brian and the Sparkly Rainbow – Darcey’s request during her hospital stay
Brian and Boo’s Big Adventure – the real life story of when Brian didn’t like Boo (scary moment)
Brian and the Changing Path – after meeting a mum at a Christmas Fair whose son was scared of any change
Brian and the Christmas Sparkle – the story of Brian’s first snow day
You can find out how each book helps at: www.adventuresofbrian.co.uk