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Meet A.A. Cullum, Author of Rugly Puffs: The Bear DetectiveMeet our April/May Author: A.A. Cullum, Author of Rugly Puffs: The Bear Detective. Every other month, we'll bring you an interview with someone in the bear world. Enjoy!
When did you start writing Rugly Puffs: The Bear Detective and what inspired you to write this series?
I started writing the Rugly Puffs books in 2004, but having a full time job as a geologist in Norway, it has been a painfully slow process to get the first book completed and published.
I really struggled with reading when I was small and was eight before I finally managed to read my first book alone. The books I was given when working hard with my reading were really dull. This inspired me to write a super exciting book, that could inspire children struggling with their reading like I did. Whether this is kids struggling with English as their first language or those learning English as an additional language, I think that books need to be as exciting as possible and written like films, creating images and stories that capture and thrill their readers.
Describe the background and basic ideas behind the series.
Rugly Puffs is an active bear, both indoors and out. His adventures have taken their toll though, leaving his fur dirty and smelly. Even Rugly’s owner Ziggy has noticed the pong and banished him from the bed. Parrot says the smell is stuffing fungus and that this will explode through Rugly’s fur at any moment if left untreated, but can everything Parrot says be trusted?
Before Rugly can figure out what to do, burglars pay a visit to the house and steal the television, the computer and Parrot. All the toys are in shock at this terrible loss, but it gives Rugly the chance he’s been waiting for. It’s a case for the Bear Detective.
This is the first book of a series in which Rugly gets rejected by his owner Ziggy, who is getting to the age where teddy bears are no longer cool. This forces Rugly to face his worst fears and forge a new life for himself.
Where do you live and where are you originally from?
I live in Norway with my wife and small daughters. I grew up in Norfolk UK, then spent far too long at Aberystwyth University in Wales which was such fun I didn’t want to leave. I moved to Norway in 1997 and when the winter snows first arrived it was like a dream come true, more white stuff that I knew what to do with and it stayed for the next four months!
What inspires you?
I am extremely nosey and can’t help but listen to other people conversations wherever I am. I like to re-construct peoples circumstances in the craziest way possible, spinning what they say into exciting scenarios of peril and intrigue. This is what has inspired me to write many of the unfinished and incomplete books and scripts which lie strewn along the way. Once I get a story into my head it just tickles away at me until I write it down.
What is your favourite part about writing bear stories?
The Rugly Puffs adventures are set just outside the world that we all know. This gives the freedom to write exciting adventures for Rugly Puffs in which the normal dull rules that govern our over cautious lives don’t exist.
Where did the name Rugly Puffs come from?
My wife loves to do knitting and crochet during the winter, she often sits cosily by the fire with a rug over her knees doing this in the evenings. This rug has always been known as “Rugly” and when I was searching for a good name for a new bear adventure I was working on the name just jumped into place.
Do you have any other hobbies besides writing?
I love wood turning and spend as much time as possible making plates, bowls and puzzles which nearly always end up being given away as presents.
Fossils are another fascination which I have pursued since childhood. My father always told me to find something I like doing and then get someone to pay me to do it, as a professional geologist I guess I have achieved this. I’m about to set off to the Isle of Wight on a dinosaur excavation next month and just can’t wait!
Do you have any children and/or pets?
My wife and I have two little daughters, Ella and Ida who are extremely fun and love teddy bears even more than I do.
What are you most proud of?
It has taken me years to complete something which is worthy of publication and feel that the Rugly Puffs series reflects me and my personality in a really great way. Getting this published has been a huge challenge and as a result I’m extremely proud of it.
Where do you sell your books?
Rugly Puffs: The Bear Detective is book one of the series with two more due out during the year. The first book is appearing in bookshops throughout Europe just now. It is however, to be found on almost all on-line book sellers worldwide, so pick one that’s closest to you to reduce the postage charges. As a general guide it is priced at £4.99 / $7.99 from Amazon.
Rugly has his own website: www.ruglypuffs.com and e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on several of the social networking sites such as Twitter.com, FaceBook and has a group in LinkedIn. Rugly has asked me to run some competitions through these sites later in the year and we are keeping a running account of his ongoing adventures and treasure hunts as they happen.
Rugly writes back to all who contact him so he’d love to hear from you.
Rugly Puffs: The Bear Detective
by A.A. Cullum
Children’s Fiction 6+
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: YouWriteOn (December 8, 2008) www.youwriteon.com
Distributed internationally by Gardners and Nielsen 01323 521777 Gail.Harbour@gardners.com