We caught up with C. L. Bennett in between writing and travelling to hear more about the magical world of the Bugglepuff series and how it all began…
So, tell us just what is the Bugglepuffs book all about?
Jungle bedrooms, pirate treasure maps, a chocolate bath, little people with flying boots, a crazy parrot and a Magic Key can all be found in the first of a series of books about the Bugglepuff family. Captain Bugglepuff, his mad wife Delirious and their four rascally children Anenome, Compass, Rocky and Seasea live a haphazard day to day family life in the little English fishing port of Brixham, Devon, until the arrival of a mysterious crisp white letter in the post. Nothing in the Bugglepuff’s lives after this letter will ever be the same again. It takes the Bugglepuff family to a new home by an enchanted creek that leads to a fantastical adventure in a world of magic where dreams can come true. But the family has to be careful. Temptations takes the Bugglepuff children and their extraordinary animals on a series of dangerous quests for which the price of failure will break the family apart and the world as we know it!
Where did the inspiration for the characters come from?
My family was the inspiration behind my first book ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ and my four hilarious children’s day to day dramas growing up gave me so many scrumptious stories, that after a number of years and a lot of persuasion from friends and family I felt it was time to put pen to paper and bring them to life in an animated adventure. It’s the drama and excitement I can create as an author putting my family into the world of the Bugglepuffs which is an absolute joy and delight. What will they do next? Who will play the lead role? Sometimes if one of my children does something naughty at home I make them do something terribly silly in the book to make me laugh!
What inspired you to write a children’s book in particular?
The natural choice was to write a children’s book that my own children (6-11 yr olds) could read. But I think the whole family would enjoy the series and be able to laugh at the Bugglepuff family’s daily dramas and sometimes the dream of escaping to a new life full of magic and wonder! Heartily I wanted to write books to create tremendous worldwide fun and to send sparkles into the imaginations of children. If I can achieve a sprinkling of this, that would be gloriously special!
Where did the tremendous word ‘Bugglepuffs’ come from?
I was travelling home from school with the children last spring and I said to them, “Well if I’m going to write a book I need a name for the family. Our surname is Bennett so I think it should start with a B.” “a B,” they all said then ‘splat’ a bug hit our windscreen. ‘Bug,’ shouted my youngest son, they all laughed, followed by my oldest daughter replying, ‘Buggle’ and then my youngest daughter roared with giggles and screamed, “puff, puff puff.” At that moment I nearly went into the hedge as I realised the animated family name had been born. That was the start of the ‘Bugglepuffs.’
Why did you choose self-publishing instead of a traditional publisher?
It took me six months to write the first book and when I got to the end of my scribbled pages, I sat there with an enormous pile of papers and wondered what do I do next? If I want it to be presented in the best possible way to show traditional publishers then maybe I should create a finished book. I still had a long way to go developing the characters, bringing them to life through illustrations and putting the series together from hundreds of muddled up pages so I decided to work with a self-publishing company to bring the ‘Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key’ to life.
Did you enjoy the process?
Publishing a book is very hard work and I now hold great respect for traditional publishing houses and the process a book goes through from a manuscript to the finished book on a shop shelf. I naively thought it was easy – not! To create twenty four illustrations for the book I had to go into exquisite details to help animate the Bugglepuff characters. My husband and I managed to miss this fun but my children very kindly dressed up as the Bugglepuff children with their own pets from the book and acted out silly Bugglepuff poses until I got the right photos for the first illustrations! This was a lot of chaos, chasing chickens around the garden and getting our pig to carry a basket without eating it, was tremendously entertaining. Then I had to sketch out the basic illustrations, with other pictures and wait and wait and wait some more. When I got the first email saying the first few illustrations were ready to view I was so deliriously excited I nearly cried, in fact I think I did. The illustrator had captured my family and their personalities. I chose black and white sketches for the interior because I love the simplicity of them and they’re so deliciously crisp and timeless. The editing process was a long, complicated and sometimes frustrating time but I was well supported throughout by Lulu Publishing. It took eight months from August 2013 to April 2014 to complete but I know it was all worth it when I finally got to hold my first ‘Bugglepuff and the Magic Key’ on the 10th April 2014 – my animated family was in print – yippee!
What makes creative writing so exciting for you and what else inspires you?
Oh where to begin with this one! Creative writing is like having a canvas in front of me and putting hundreds of colours together through writing. My pen is like a paint brush. I want every child and every adult to see, touch, hear, smell and taste the magical world of the Bugglepuffs and travel excitedly on the adventure series with me. Children are my inspiration and not in a corny way. They have the most sharp, unreserved minds and come out with such genuine and inspiring suggestions when you least expect it! This has led me to starting ‘Bugglepuff Fun Days’ in primary schools and it’s been like sitting in a bath of delicious ice cream! I love animating the children with creative writing, the joy of reading and the delights of dream bedrooms and chocolate doors. Taking their minds into a world of adventure is so much fun! For older children I talk about my writing and publishing experiences so far, and in return the children ask me brilliant questions about what it’s like being an author and creating the Bugglepuffs. Fun is not enough of a word it should be ‘Fundeliciouslywonderfullystupendous!’
We hear that the character ‘Delirious Bugglepuff’ is actually based on yourself? What is the silliest thing that has ever happened to you?
Well there are many silly moments but I guess probably the most funny was when my kids were very young. I was very tired with sleepless nights and crying babies and I was ferociously late for school. I’d been folding up the washing and then raced out the door with pram in tow and whizzed up to school. I got to school with five minutes spare in a frazzled state but happy I’d made it on time. Suddenly I heard a laugh, followed by another laugh and another and I didn’t know what my friends were pointing at. I looked around then realised they were pointing at me, at my hair. In my rush to get to school I had left a fresh pair of twizzled up knickers in my hair. It was my most deliriously silly moment as a mum to date but one I’ll always happily remember and giggle about!
Can we expect any more books in the ‘Bugglepuff and the Magic Key’ series soon?
Yes, I have just completed the second book which is overflowing with Bugglepuff family drama and suspense and am working on the third book full of rainbow coloured sparkles, temptations, shocks and Bugglepuff silliness. It’s coming along nicely and when I find a quiet moment in my incredibly noisy home I try and enter the Bugglepuff world to add another chapter to the story. Because I have based the Bugglepuff children on my own children’s characters it’s wonderfully charming every time I put one of them into a challenging situation because I know exactly how they’ll react.
What would you like for your first Christmas in the world of the ‘Bugglepuffs’?
My passion in discovering my love for creative writing and sharing it with children in schools is the best present I could have so I shouldn’t really need anything for Christmas, but on a Bugglepuff wish list what would I choose? Number one and two it has to be a chocolate door and dream bedroom but three would be children coming on the adventure with the Bugglepuffs and enjoying the magical book!
Bugglepuffs and the Magic Key is available to order online today