In the early hours of the morning, Laura Edmonds bought her first e-book.
What made her purchase extra special was she had penned it herself. “I didn’t believe it until 1am in the morning – I saw my name come up and my books were there. I didn’t believe anything like this would happen,” says Laura.
The 29-year-old from Cullingworth began writing four years ago while on maternity leave and became so absorbed in her characters – there are ten in total – that she couldn’t stop.
Eighty-eight children’s stories later, Laura was eager to get them published but didn’t know how. Securing a publisher in such a competitive arena is a challenge for many budding authors.
It was a devastating turn of events which led Laura to a publisher who helped her produce her e-books and is now working with her on getting them published in paperback.
Laura says her mum, Catherine Edmonds, was five days into a once-in-a-lifetime holiday in Jamaica with her partner of nine years, James Ashcroft, when James suffered a heart attack on the beach.
Laura dropped everything to be by her mum’s side, getting briefly stranded in New York due to the snow across the Atlantic in January as she made the 12-hour journey to be with her mum in the West Indies.
While there, she and her mum became friends with a couple. When Laura’s books came into the conversation, the woman mentioned she may be able to help and asked for Laura’s details.
“She said she knew somebody who had written some books and said she would pass the details on,” says Laura.
Shortly afterwards, Laura received an e-mail from the woman’s contact who, she discovered, was a publisher who was keen to help her publish her books. Laura’s books were inspired by anecdotes she created for her children, five-year-old Madison and three-year-old Dexter, and also through her role as a support worker with the Children’s Palliative Care Team.
“I’ve always wanted to have the chance to explain life events to the children without it being a taboo subject. I had a huge passion for psychology and how children’s minds work and wanted to come up with some great story books to test this,” says Laura.
“The children and I openly discuss everything and I really want other people to be able to do that. I thought these books would be brilliant – anybody can read them and have a discussion with their parents about whatever they are reading and it makes life a lot easier.”
Originally she wrote five stories... “and it went a bit crazy!” she adds.
The books, Building Memories, are aimed at three to four-year-olds and focus on ten children who all go to the same nursery but each face their own trials and tribulations, allowing Laura to explore taboo subjects such as alcoholism and bereavement with a child-friendly approach.
“The original books are based in a nursery and aimed at the three-to-four year-olds. They are just starting nursery themselves, they are nice little books to introduce the characters and a bit about their personality and then as the books progress it starts introducing more into their lives,” says Laura.
One little boy, whose parents are alcoholics, is taken into care and another little boy has to come to terms with the death of his mum. Laura also touches on issues such as disability and sexuality.
“It is talking about all the things people don’t like talking about, but in a nice way,” explains Laura, who is currently working on her ninth series and also hopes to write accompanying books for adults.
“I want my books to be the books the whole family can enjoy. As well as having an underlying message, they also had to tell a fun story, a story that children would want to read. Anyone who has picked one up, soon picks them all up!”
One of her biggest fans was her mum’s partner, James. “James asked a million times if there was anything he could do to get these books published,” says Laura.
It was James’s passing that led Laura to her publisher, and she says the family have taken great comfort in that. “Unless you are known or you’re a famous person who has had lots of books out no publisher even reads your books. You don’t get the chance, so the fact we met through mutual friends helped,” says Laura.
She says her mum is also taking comfort in the fact her books have finally been published. “It is helping her with her grief,” says Laura.
Although struggling with her loss, Laura’s mum says James was frustrated because of the difficulties Laura was facing getting her books published. “But it’s being in the right place at the right time and if he had not passed away we would not have had that conversation with that couple,” she says.
Catherine is clearly bursting with pride at her daughter’s achievements. “I am thrilled because I was there when we first went on holiday and she had these scrapbooks and she said she was going to write some books. She has got a good idea and I am absolutely thrilled for her,” she says.
“It is the first time in four weeks I feel I can have a little smile. One minute I was rock bottom with what has happened to me then all this excitement is happening for Laura, it’s a funny feeling.”
She says James would have been “absolutely thrilled to bits”.
“He would be saying ‘good for you lass, you have worked for it’,” she adds.