Frank Bell is the creator and author of my story, The Adventures of James Bone, Secret Agent. The story has been cherished by his wife for some time, but is now reaching a larger audience. This is his third childrens series. His previous two children’s book projects, Panda Patrol and Louis The Lifeboat, were created in partnership with WWF and RNLI and really captured young readers’ imaginations. He lives in Surrey and loves to involve himself in creative or sporty things, whether it’s writing, painting, gardening, cycling or playing tennis. When he’s not busy doing this, he loves to spend time with his family and have fun with a few very close friends
question time with Frank
What gave you the inspiration for this story?
My wife Gail gave me the inspiration to write this story. I first heard about The Downing Street cat about 10 years ago. I was sitting in a really boring traffic jam listening to the radio and a broadcaster mentioned that a cat called Humphrey lived with the prime minister at 10 Downing Street as Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. He was very good at pest control! Well, to my surprise an idea immediately popped into my head. It was all about a story of Humphrey and his friends having exciting adventures in London. Then almost as quickly as the first idea came to me, another one came into my head about a little Scottie dog who was a secret agent and James Bone secret agent was born. I started to think of ideas for other animals and a picture of a British bulldog came to mind. I popped a bowler hat on his head and Winston became the storyteller for the adventures. Holmes and Watson live up at Baker Street, and are the pets of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his accomplice Dr Watson.
Look out for more familiar names in the future, Nelson the sea blue cat who lives at Trafalgar Square along with Big Ben and his sister Sweet Pea who live in the clock tower of the world famous clock Big Ben.
What was your favourite book when you were a kid?
Okara the Hunter. I was given this book as a school prize when I was eight years old. Sadly I lost it when we moved house but luckily for me I was able to buy one on eBay all the way from Australia. I was told by the man who sold it to me that it was the last copy in the world.
The story was about a young boy who was abandoned in the African jungle who was found and taken in by a friendly native tribe. He made great friends in the tribe and had wonderful adventures with them tracking wild animals, camping out in the jungle looking up at beautiful African night-skies filled with millions of twinkling stars then falling asleep to the sounds of wild animals across the jungle who were just waking up to start hunting for food.
Do you have any words of advice for kids who would like to write stories of their own?
Yes I would say if you have an idea don’t be afraid to start writing your thoughts down, even if in the beginning they come out a little bit jumbled up. In this wonderful age of computers with spell check, grammar check, cut and paste and delete we can all revisit what we have written and edit the piece without fear of spoiling it. Everyone has a story inside them that they would like to tell, so after you have finished reading my story please let me hear yours.
Have you got any ideas for other books?
Yes I have lots of ideas, some about animals and some about humans, but first of all I really want to create a series of James Bone adventures as I am really enjoying writing these stories. And I can’t wait to find out if other children like reading it as much as my family do.
Will James Bone have more adventures?
I certainly hope so. I have a couple of ideas in mind for James but please write to the Publisher with any ideas or book titles you may think of and If I choose one of them as my next book I will promise that you will be included as a character in the next James Bone adventure.
Would the world be a better place if dogs like James Bone took over?
I think James Bone would be a splendid world leader he would fight evil and make the world a friendlier safer place for us all to live.
Do you have any pets?
Not at the moment, although when my children were young we had lots of cats, dogs, goldfish, hamsters and Horses. My wife and I keep talking about getting a dog. Maybe it should be a little Scottie that looks like James.
My favourite cat was a huge white cat called Boo. He was a very cool guy who always acted like he owned the world. He was very popular around the village and would pop in and out of most of villager’s houses to scrounge a treat of a saucer of milk.
James uses some interesting gadgets and gizmos can you tell us a bit more about theses and how they work/how you came up with the idea?
I created the idea of a flying Kennel for James as I thought it would be the ideal vehicle for him to use when he jets off on his various adventures. It has lot of gadgets, for example at the flick of a switch it can make itself invisible. James lives in the kennel and his home is Duck Island in St James’s Park London. Maybe the next time you visit London you should ask your parents to take you there?
London and some of its iconic roads and places feature heavily in this book. Have you ever lived in London?
I have lived on the outskirts of London in Richmond, right next to the river and just a short walk from the Richmond Park. I worked in London for many years and it really does have some wonderful places and inspirational buildings, which I am sure will feature in future James Bone adventures. Places such as Madame Tussauds, The British Museum and The Natural History Museum (with all those scary dinosaurs). I think James and his friends will have some very exciting adventures in London. Do let me know if you have a favourite place you would like to be the setting for a James Bone adventure.