Longton teacher turns children's author to pen Oleg the Giant

Whilst working as an accountant, Graham Fletcher knew there was a better career for him. He retrained as a teacher and after writing text books, he has released his first children's fiction book, Oleg the Giant.

Friday, 21st December 2018, 10:33 am
Updated Friday, 21st December 2018, 12:58 pm
One of the illustrations by Eva Sanchez-Gomez

It was a batty idea, but it led to a giant of a collaboration.When former teacher Graham Fletcher turned his hand at penning children’s fiction with his book Oleg the Giant as a break away from writing exam text books, he realised he needed someone to illustrate it.The 63-year-old from Longton turned to his local artist group and although no-one there could help, a mutual love of bats led to him teaming up with Spanish illustrator Eva Sanchez-Gomez.He says: “I have written a number of children’s novels aimed at 12 to 13 year olds but I thought I would aim at a book for younger children, aged seven to 10.“I wrote the story and tested it on my seven-year-old grandson, who loved it. I made it into an A4 book by using photosoftware, adding illustrations that my father-in-law had drawn and used the text tool for the words. “We loved the book so much I sent it to Olympia Publishers. “But they said the pictures were not good enough quality with the resolution so I had to find another illustrator.“I asked a friend of mine, who has been a long term member of New Longton Artists, if he could help me. He said no, but he gave me Eva’s name. He knew her husband as they were both members of the same bat association. “I had a look at her work and loved it. She is very well known in Catalunya, Spain. “Eva used to live in Manchester but moved to Spain in January.“I am really pleased with how the book has turned out. The pictures tell the story. “It is about a boy called Oleg who is a giant, but he is a bit different in that he is 4ft 11 and has outgrown the village. “All the other giants scare people and eat cows, but Oleg knows that he can’t be like that, so he has to leave. “While he is away, a ‘proper’ giant, Igor, moves into the village and behaves exactly as a ‘proper’ giant should. “The villagers are horrified and the Lord Mayor wants Oleg’s help.”

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Graham’s fictional world of giants is a long way from his original career path as an accountant.But finding the work dull, he trained to be an English teacher, which paved the way to writing both fiction and not fiction.The father-of two, who has two grandchildren, said; “I was only an accountant for a year. There was no excitement in it and I was doing the same thing every day.“A friend persuaded me to try teaching and I loved it. “I taught English for 38 years and was head of English at Birkdale High School, in Southport, for 15 years. I was also deputy head there for six years.“I was an examiner for GCSEs and it gave me an insight into what exam boards are looking for. As a result I was able to write text books around that.“My wife, Lesley and I, have written text books for all ages, from seven to 16. “I had my first English text book published in 2002 for large educational publisher Coordination Group Publication (CGP) .“In this time, I was one of the first teachers in the country to use the interactive whiteboard. “That led to Pearson Education’s commissioning editor enlisting my help for its interactive Shakespeare.“My role as a teacher has enabled me to read the works of the greatest writers and how they create characters and develop a story in various styles.“The theme of Oleg the Giant comes from my role as a teacher and deputy head, where some pupils find things difficult and need additional support. That is the same thing with Oleg. He is learning about himself and learns not to be something he is not.”

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One of the illustrations by Eva Sanchez-Gomez

Oleg The Giant, written by Graham Fletcher and illustrated by Eva Sanchez-Gomez, is published by Olympia Publishers.It is available from www.olympiapublishers.com/books/oleg-the-giant, Amazon and Waterstones online, priced at £5.99.

One of the illustrations by Eva Sanchez-Gomez
Graham Fletcher
Graham Fletcher with his book