Ebb and flow friendship
Writers Lisa Ford, from Brixham, and Emma Green, from Paignton, have just published their first children's adventure book, The Pink Flamingo.
The busy mums write under the names Ebb (Emma) and Flow (Lisa) and are continuing a tradition that began when they were growing up together in Brixham, as Lisa revealed.
How did you two meet?
Emma used to live opposite me in Brixham. Our mums were friends and I was probably about four when we met for the first time. We've been friends ever since. When Emma left school she went travelling a lot and went to Australia. When she came back she met her husband, David, and they ended up in Paignton. They have two boys – Toby, who's ten, and William, six, and my partner, Garry, and I have a son, Coyde, who's also ten. So he and Toby are now friends, continuing the tradition!
Coyde's an unusual name...
It was my mother's maiden name and it's a family with its roots in Brixham since the 1600s. We just wanted to carry it on.
So you're both busy mums.
I've worked in the Coastguard for 20 years, in the Brixham operations room, and Emma is a teacher at Tower House School in Paignton.
Have you recently started writing together?
No. It's something we used to do when we were young. We were always giggling together and we were always getting told off and told to be quiet.
We would spend all our time together in the summer holidays and we would write little stories. We were about ten then. writing was something we enjoyed doing.
We wrote a couple of books and then we sent them off to a publisher with a covering letter. I remember writing "from Lisa, 13¾". We didn't hear back from them.
Then, when we had children, we talked about the stories we read them and what got them giggling. Reading to Coyde reminded me of the characters when we were young.
Then Emma told me she'd found the stories we'd written as children all those years ago, along with the letter we'd sent off.
What did you do with the stories?
I read them to Coyde and he thought they were really good. They were about two friends – Handy Andy and Fred Dread – so that thought was there. Coyde said we should write another book.
Did his reaction make you want to return to the writing?
Yes. When the kids played together in the summer holidays, we would brainstorm ideas. I always carried a little jotter in my bag and would jot down ideas, maybe something Coyde says, and then we'd storyboard it. We just balance each other out.
Tell us about the books you've now written.
The Adventures of Drifter and Scully is aimed at youngsters of two to seven years. They tell of the adventures of two mischievous seagulls that get up to all sorts of adventures, around the bay with their friend Dab the crab.
The first book is The Pink Flamingo, which tells of the importance of wearing sun cream. We wanted something a child could learn from and we've written nine stories now. Another one is The Pirates of Men's Pants and book three is The Gull Next Door about a gull called Gloria, so there might be romance in the air!
We wanted the books to be educational, rhyme, be humorous and have great pictures. Emma's husband, David, has done all the beautiful watercolour illustrations for them.
Tell us about the characters in the books.
Drifter and Scully are two seagulls who are best friends, and then there's Dab the crab. The boys chose the names – Coyde wanted Drifter and Toby chose Scully. Will was only three at the time but he wanted Dab the crab.
Everything rhymes... so we have Mr Bleeper, the lighthouse keeper. Some of the settings are local to us too – including Living Coasts and Paignton Zoo.
Did you get in touch with the publisher you pestered at the age of 13¾?
No... perhaps we should do! We tried to get it published but decided to publish it ourselves in the end and then send it out to publishers.
It's been such hard work – it was easier writing the stories – and we've raised all the money ourselves, with overtime and the Coastguard and by selling little handmade crafts.
And how's the book going?
Really well. It's in local bookshops. Help from Will Ford at Another Chapter in Brixham has been invaluable. We're having a book launch there on November 16. It will be easy to find, there'll be a giant crab outside!
Hopefully find a publisher and keep making the books... and there are Christmas cards too!
You can find copies of Lisa and Emma's first book, The Pink Flamingo (£4.99) on sale at Another Chapter, The Quay, Brixham; Dartmouth Community Bookshop, Higher Street, Dartmouth, and Fables Bookshop, Fore Street, St Marychurch, Torquay. You can also order online at drifterandscully.co.uk.