Discovering Magic – The Storytelling Journey of Wallace Briggs

Explore Wallace Briggs’ journey from childhood inspirations to creating Jimmy Crikey, weaving tales of bravery and magic to empower young readers worldwide.

Step into the extraordinary world of Wallace Briggs, where imagination knows no bounds and storytelling becomes a journey of resilience and wonder. Wallace, born and raised amidst the charm of Durham City, found his storytelling muse unexpectedly during a family holiday in Great Yarmouth. It was here that the character of Jimmy Crikey was born—a courageous young boy with a unique appearance, navigating a subterranean world of magic and monsters to escape bullying and find his place. Wallace’s initial storytelling session, aimed at entertaining his son and newfound friends in a beach tent, evolved into a series of enchanting adventures that would capture the hearts of young readers.

Over the years, Wallace’s dedication to crafting bedtime tales for his children blossomed into a passion for writing children’s literature. Inspired by the likes of Enid Blyton and driven by a desire to provide his children with stories of bravery and adventure, Wallace wove his personal experiences of overcoming bullying and adversity into the fabric of Jimmy Crikey’s adventures. Through these tales, he imparts valuable lessons of courage, friendship, and the power of perseverance, drawing upon his own childhood challenges to resonate with young readers facing similar struggles.

Beyond storytelling, Wallace’s commitment to his craft shines through his meticulous blending of fact and fantasy, enriching Jimmy Crikey’s world with educational titbits and messages of non-violence and teamwork. As a full-time caregiver to his disabled wife, Wallace finds solace and inspiration in the moments carved out for writing amidst the challenges of daily life. His journey, fuelled by a love for storytelling and a determination to instil hope and courage in young minds, continues to brighten the literary landscape with each new adventure of Jimmy Crikey. Join us as we delve into the heartwarming and transformative journey of Wallace Briggs, a storyteller whose tales ignite imaginations and touch hearts worldwide.

You’ve had an extensive career that took you across various regions and roles before settling into writing. How have your experiences and travels influenced the worlds and characters you create in your stories?

The student asked some children to address the class about their summer holidays. I listened with awe and envy to the accounts from the more affluent children. They spoke about a week in Devon, a few days on the beach at Scarborough, a tour of the Scottish Highlands, and a camping holiday in North Wales.

Then, it was time to begin writing. I fantasied. My uncle had emigrated a year earlier, and I could not imagine anything more exciting. My holiday story told of a voyage on a ship transporting people and sheep to Australia.

The Headmaster, did not approve and reprimanded me. ‘You have never been on a ship, let alone to Australia. It’s a load of lies. Isn’t it?’

I denied the charges several times. Overcome with anger, he shouted, ‘To my office, now!’

The student-teacher followed, and when a retraction was demanded I could not admit that I had allowed my imagination to take over. ‘Hold out your hand!’ The female Student pleaded that my holiday account was just childish imagination. But he beat my hand five times with the ruler while the tears rolled down the face of the Student, and me.

I didn’t write another story for almost forty years. My wife and I were holidaying in Great Yarmouth with our five-year-old son. He had made friends with a small group of children who sheltered in our beach tent during a heavy afternoon shower. My wife asked me to keep them quiet by telling them a story. So, for the first time ever, I made up a story on the spot. One of the children in the group, the smallest, was being picked on by the older boys, “go there”, “bring this”, “do that”, “don’t do that”, etc. He became my story’s hero, Jimmy Crikey, the boy who looked different. I needed some magic to entrance the youngsters and Witch Matilda was born. The story needed monsters and in an underground world there was no shortage of creative opportunities. Jimmy needed a friend and so Gemma was created, the little lady who lived at the bottom of the well but didn’t know how she got there. That story was printed in June 2020.!

Jimmy Crikey’s adventures began as a way to entertain children during a rainy holiday. How did those early stories evolve into the fully-fledged children’s fantasy series that it is today?

Over the next few years, the stories developed further for my two children, No one ever read bedtime stories to me, and my siblings. I vowed I would read to my children for at least fifteen minutes each evening. They and I were great admirers of Enid Blyton and The Magic Far Away Tree, but once Jimmy Crikey was ‘born’ he became their favourite

The Amazing Adventures of Jimmy Crikey features a protagonist who deals with bullying and self-discovery. What inspired you to tackle these themes, and how do you hope they resonate with your young readers?

I was subject to much bullying as I grew up. My family was poor and our clothes were threadbare before they were replaced, often with hand-me-downs from cousins. My father, a non-violent man, tutored me in self-defence to resist the bullies and be brave, standing up for oneself and never showing the hurt. I hope that young readers learn that persistence and determination can overcome the bullies.

This is the verse I included at the end of my first Jimmy Crikey story:

Mirror, mirror on the wall, It doesn’t matter if you’re short or tall.

If your legs are skinny or waist is wide,

It only matters what’s inside.

Blue eyes, brown eyes, black or green.

What makes you beautiful cannot be seen.

When I look at you, I don’t judge your parts,

The best thing about you is in your hearts.

In Love Changed Everything: The Power of Love, you explore themes of family, resilience, and love amidst adversity. How much of this story is drawn from your own life experiences, and what message do you hope to convey through this book?

Love changed everything is my story. The message is: never give up! If you have a dream aim for the stars and keep trying no matter how many times you falter.

Your works, such as Romney Hole, involve young characters encountering extraordinary events. What draws you to writing fantasy and science fiction for children and teens, and how do you balance imaginative elements with relatable real-world issues?

I weave fact into my fantasy to add to the reader’s knowledge. Jimmy tries to resolve conflict is without violence. Thereafter friendships working together can overcome mountainous problems.

As someone who began writing to entertain your own children, what advice would you give to aspiring authors who are looking to turn their storytelling passions into published works, especially those who may feel constrained by other life responsibilities?

A full-time career of a disabled wife needs moments of calm which must be claimed to retain sanity. Frequent interruptions break threads of thoughts, but they are still somewhere in your mind’s eye. Just dig a little deeper.

What keeps you going on this literary journey?

Comment like this:

“What a heartfelt conclusion to such an enchanting journey! It’s been a joy to follow Jimmy Crikey’s adventures, and your dedication truly shines through. Thank you for bringing so much wonder and excitement into our lives. Mike’s words beautifully capture the gratitude many of us feel. Here’s to spreading Jimmy’s magic far and wide! “

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