A librarian-turned-author has spoken of her inspiration working with students with special educational needs that formed the basis of her first novel, a book about a young vampire.
Alex Foulkes, 29, has spoken of his excitement after his first book, Rules For Vampires, which features a vampire on his 111th birthday who sets out to hunt his first human. It was also illustrated by an artist who worked with acclaimed children’s author Julia Donaldson, who wrote classics such as The Gruffalo, Zog and The Snail and the Whale.
Alex, from Stoke, said she was inspired by her time as a librarian at Oldfields Hall Middle School as well as her love of gothic stories such as A Series of Unfortunate Events.
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Now her book has caught the attention of Cressida Cowell, author of Children’s Laureate and How To Train Your Dragon, who has given the book her endorsement.
Alex said: “I’ve always written since I was young. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write.
“I always had small projects but that was just a hobby. I then studied creative writing at the University of Derby and wrote short stories throughout my stay the low.
“I had started as a teacher but it wasn’t really for me. I love SEN, I think my time helping with SEN [special educational needs] the kids in the library really inspired me. I loved the school environment, but I was not a good candidate to teach.”
She said much of her love for the genre came from reading Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books as well as goth films and realizing there was a gap in the genre. market for this type of book.
She added: “I loved the A Series of Unfortunate Events books so much. But I also loved those goth movies like The Addams Family or Hocus Pocus. That mix of classic horror with comedic elements really inspired the book.
“I think it all goes back to around 2018. I was working in the library one afternoon organizing the fiction section from nine to twelve. This seventh grade boy came up to me and said ‘Madam, why don’t we aren’t you writing a book about vampires?’.
“I then looked at the section and realized there wasn’t really anything for 9-12 year olds in the vampire genre. You have Twilight but it’s a bit too mature for kids. children.
“I just said ‘yes of course’. I had put it aside until I had this vision a few weeks later of a young vampire running through a dark forest. chained from there.
“From that first striking image, I thought back to all of Tim Burton’s animations such as Corpse Bride, and it was very plotted as it was written.”
Following the first draft, it approached several publishers before being taken over by Simon & Schuster, a London-based publishing house.
She added: “After finishing the first draft, I sent the copy to agents in London. I didn’t expect to hear anything back. Honestly, I had no confidence in myself.
“When Simon & Schuster called me back I felt incredibly lucky. It all goes to show that only a girl from Stoke can aim high and achieve something special.
“I took a deep breath and jumped into this world and couldn’t be happier.
“The highlight was Cressida Cowell reading the book. She really enjoyed it and gave us a quote for the cover. I cried, I’m a pretty sweet person but it was a complete shock to me. Also, the artwork done by Sara Ogilvie, who has also worked with amazing authors such as Julia Donaldson, was truly fantastic, I think I might cry when I meet her.
She shared the book’s plot plan, which follows an 111-year-old young vampire who is dating his first human for the first time.
She said: “It follows the story of Leo von Motteberg, a young vampire who sets out on the eve of his 111th birthday to hunt his first human.
“Things go terribly wrong, however, when she accidentally creates two ghosts who are at war with each other. It turns into a race against time to defeat the evil Orphanmaster before the seventh moon sinks – and before Leo’s evil vampire mother finds out what she’s done.
“It’s a really fun book that I can’t wait for people to read.”