Bear Facts and Gristed Mills by Fran Brady

I had been mulling over what to blog this month and my mullings were tending towards telling you about a new man in my life called Max Bear. Then, yesterday's post about Winnie the Pooh confirmed my intention. Bears, your star is in the ascendent - this week.

Aliida, age 4
I have a lovely goddaughter called Aliida. Yes, two i-s, it's an Estonian name. Her maternal grandmother is Estonian, her mother Scottish and her father Ghanaian. A year ago, her mother, one of my best friends for many years, sadly died quite suddenly. Since then, I have been ramping up the godmother efforts. A few weeks ago, I picked her up from school and we hit the nearest shopping mall, it being wintry, dark and cold in the late afternoon.

A very cool bear is Max
I had promised her a special treat for winning a poetry competition (she is only six). So it was I found myself, for the first time, in a Build a Bear shop. Quite an experience! Half an hour later and £40 lighter, we were the owners/adoptive parents of our bear. 'What are you going to call him?' asked the shop assistant who was relieving me of the said £40. Aliida didn't hesitate: 'MAX' she said, emphatically.

As we treated Max to his first ice cream on our way to the car park, I had an idea. Maybe it's the thrifty Scot in me but I felt that £40 needed to go further than one bear, albeit a very well-dressed, stylish bear. I ran the idea past Aliida: 'What if I write a story a month about Max? Then we can put them into a book at the end of the year.'

'Definitely!' said she, once again emphatically. She is a little lady who knows her own mind. And so 'The Adventures of Max Bear' began. I emailed her (via her dad) the first one and she loved it. As I was writing the second one, I thought: there might be milage in old Max. What if I set up a Max Bear page on my website and upload the stories as I write them each month? Advertise the page on Facebook, Twitter, etc and see what happens. Might be a good/another way to keep loyal readers and blog-followers interested, maybe even pick up some new readers/followers.

So I'm doing just that. Two stories are up now and another one is coming shortly. I guess I'm of the genre of authors to whom every event, good or bad, is grist to the writing mill. You will be wise to be on your guard if we ever meet: you might end up as grist!

If you want to read (or read aloud to a child) The Adventures of Max Bear, just go to my website:

Aliida, aged 6, giving Max the first of many hugs


Bill Kirton said…
Thanks, Fran. You've reminded me of the pleasure of writing for a specific, present, questioning audience. It's a sort of alchemy. In my case, it was grandchildren who, when we went to stay with them, would come into our bedroom at a ridiculously early hour and expect to be entertained by a story. That's when my misanthropic fairy, Stanley Henderson, and a cat called Dexter were conceived, along with several other characters who never graduated to having their own series. I still haven't turned them into actual books but their reception by their target audience was satisfying in itself. It's also a fact that many of their idiosyncrasies and absurdities were generated to counter probing questions and sceptical observations from the listeners.

I bet Aliida loves the stories, especially as she's actually in them. And already, in a very short time, you've given Max a distinct character. As the French say, 'Bonne continuation'.
Anonymous said…
What a super idea! I'll be off to your website to have a look. Max Bear has an impressive ring to him. And your god-daughter is clearly a great girl too. Thanks for this lovely post.
Rosalie Warren said…
Yes, thank you, Fran. It's a beautiful idea and Aliida must be absolutely thrilled.
My daughter Em and I collaborated a year or so ago on writing (and publishing) a book, wonderfully illustrated by Em, about my little granddaughter Daisy rescuing a baby seal. It was a book written only for Daisy, but it was a real joy to produce and I'm very proud of it.

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