So much has happened since 2020! How have you coped through the pandemic?
I returned home to the UAE after a brief visit to London in February 2020 just as the first reports of coronavirus were emerging. I don’t think any of us realised what lay ahead for the world. By the end of March, we were in lockdown and home working became the norm. As a writer, that wasn’t a big change for me but like many people, it was not having the choice to go out or meet people that was really difficult. A vaccine programme was rolled out very quickly and I managed to avoid catching covid until a visit to London in November 2022!
I loved the Digger and Biscuit story that you were developing when I first met you as your online tutor. How has the series developed since then?
During the pandemic, writing provided a wonderful escape into magical worlds. I wrote, edited, rewrote and refined Digger and Biscuit’s third adventure which was published in September 2021. Our intrepid adventurers find themselves in a race to save Fairy Tale Land before the sky completely tumbles down.
Do you have plans for further adventures?
Our adventurous duo are helped by some friends from their previous adventures as well as new characters, including The Three Little Pigs, marauding dragons and Rapunzel. Of course, things never go smoothly for Digger and Biscuit, and they are pursued throughout by a shuffling – scuffling – creeping – peeping – scribbling – scratching sound…
For those that are familiar with the first two books, the third book delves more closely into the mysterious background of Fizz the Camel – and just why a camel is living in a castle with two pups and the magical Missy.
It was great to work with the very talented Bex Sutton again and all three books are now available featuring her beautiful illustrations in either colour or black and white.
During the pandemic my husband and I decided that after nearly eight wonderful years, it was time to return to the UK from Dubai. Since we returned in March this year it has been a whirlwind of house hunting, moving and unpacking!
As I was sorting through boxes, I found a notebook with the first draft Digger and Biscuit’s fourth adventure. I thought the series would be a trilogy, but once I’d finished The Mystery of the Falling Sky, I missed Digger and Biscuit. Their fourth adventure sees them on a quest to solve a series of riddles and try to find out why everyone in Fairy Tale Land is disappearing and taking their stories with them. I’m really looking forward the seeing where this adventure takes them in 2023.
You are obviously a dog-lover, were these two lovable characters based upon your own pets?
As a dog lover, Digger and Biscuit’s antics are very much influenced by my own Golden Retrievers. Their games, interactions, personalities and love of all things edible, can definitely be seen in Digger and Biscuit. Our new home has a large garden which is already covered in holes from someone digging and there are toys scattered across the grass from games of tuggy! We have quite a few trees so chasing squirrels has become their new fitness craze. They’re so happy and excited, I haven’t the heart to tell them that the squirrels really don’t want to play with them.
As a teacher, I had a dog puppet called Digger who was part of our class. Digger would help by modelling learning and often the children would teach Digger. They loved seeing him grow in confidence and learn new skills. Digger was very mischievous, which of course, the children found very funny and they were so proud when he mastered a new skill.
Digger doesn’t always get things right, but he tries hard and he’s very loving and loyal to his friends and sister – despite some sibling rivalry. So yes, the characters of Digger and Biscuit very much grew from my own dogs and the characters created when I was teaching. I think Digger and Biscuit’s characters continue to evolve with each adventure.
Who are the intended audience for your books?
I wrote Digger and Biscuit’s adventures as a bridge between picture books and longer chapter books. There is a stage when children enjoy longer stories with more complex plots but they don’t yet have the fluency and resilience to read them themselves. They are written to be read aloud by an adult and children can then reread them independently. Each chapter takes around fifteen minutes to read aloud so they are ideal for bedtime or Storytime. Although aimed at ages five to nine, they are very popular with adults too as they are fun to read aloud and have twists and references to keep them entertained.
Recently I have been attending Christmas Fayres and it has been a real pleasure meeting different people and chatting about Digger and Biscuit’s adventures.
I wish you and Digger and Biscuit every continued success!
You can follow Heather on both Facebook and LinkedIn as Heather G. Watts, Instagram: Diggerandbiscuitadventures, Twitter: @diggerandb or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Wishing you all a happy, healthy and successful 2023, wherever in the world you are!