I’m Nigel Toeg, the author of the Honeybear Stories. I thought I might introduce myself here, and give you a little background into why I wrote the stories, how they came to be published, and the invaluable help I received in creating the ebooks and audiobooks that comprise the series.
Although I spent a great deal of my working life in the world of fine art, I developed an interest in writing stories for children. The Honeybear Stories started as a single short story, but before I knew it I seemed to have written an entire series of 13 stories, each as a stand-alone episode in a greater story of loss and discovery, friendship and empowerment. And adventure – lots of adventures.
My intention from the beginning was to write a good plot, to stimulate a child’s imagination and for the books to be exciting and fun. In writing the Honeybear Stories, I drew on my liking for the style of children’s books from earlier times, like Enid Blyton's ‘Famous Five’ books; Malcolm Saville’s ‘Lone Pine' series; 'The Hundred and One Dalmatians' by Dodie Smith; and all round favourite, Margery Williams’ 1922 book 'The Velveteen Rabbit'.
I hope I have achieved some small measure of the quality of my own childhood influences. The greatest compliment and personal satisfaction I’ve experienced is when parents relate that, after reading the Honeybear Stories, children played at being the characters they read about. I hope that your children may also enjoy my stories in much the same way.
A little help from my friends…
Of course, writing the stories is the start of the journey, not the end of it. I had help from two friends. The first is performer Gideon Wagner, who narrates the stories with the same skill, affection and empathy he brings to his highly regarded classical poetry recordings, and from Graham Wayne, who acted first as story editor, and later produced the ebook and audiobook versions for me. I am very grateful to them both, for the faith they’ve shown in the stories, and the considerable amount of work they put into helping me get the stories to the public.
…including some Artificial Intelligence!
Artificial Intelligence (AI) became topical just as we were preparing the ebooks. I’d always wanted the books to have illustrations, but finding a suitable illustrator turned out to be an insurmountable hurdle. Luckily, Graham had an interest in such matters, and discovered that he could generate wonderful pictures in various styles – illustrations and photos – by inputting text into an AI picture generator. All the pictures in the ebooks (and on this site) were created this way – which is hard to believe when you see the quality of the animal and forest pictures. I hope you enjoy the novelty of the pictures as much as their undoubted beauty.