Anthony Broderick knows where he has been, he knows where he is at, and most importantly, he knows where he's going.
This month sees the publication of the fifth of his books, all aimed at the eight to 12 age group and all choc a bloc with exciting but real plots told in a real setting. Now, allied to strong storylines, relevant age-appropriate topics and a line in merchandise, the Claremorris-native who teaches at Clonberne NS in Galway is set to take his series The Adventures of Jack and Adam to the world.
"I'm not into the fantasy writing," said Anthony, when we met in Galway recently. "I like my plots to be based in reality because children can relate more to that.
"I found that children wanted to read books but that in many cases, there was nothing that caught their eye, or if there was, then it was too long. Or off-putting in some way.
"When I was growing up, I read a lot of the Enid Blyton books and they were full of adventures in rural areas, and that is why the books are set in a fictional village, where there are forests and caves and fields, all natural playgrounds for children."
And the books are full of that adventure and excitement. Once you start into them you are engrossed and they are the ideal set to have for your children this summer.
Now Anthony Broderick is on the verge of a major breakthrough with plans to rocket his series into the big time, with a ready made ongoing saga that is matched by impressive animation and a whole line of merchandise.
He is no ordinary writer — before he started writing the books, he won an Enterprise Award in Mayo a few years back when he outlined his plan for the series, at a time when he didn't even have the first word written. The manner in which he laid out the concept of a series of books, of varying themes, of ageing characters, and of using global themes, impressed the judges who awarded him the major cash injection.
Already the books are the talk of the teaching profession and Anthony travels around the country giving talks to classes and groups of teachers on his innovative series and the role it can play in encouraging a revival of reading.
There is an air of confidence about Anthony that you can feel also enthused the judges on that occasion, and now he is set to work his magic to attract agents and promoters to launch The Adventures of Jack and Adam into the big time.
"I've been working on the project for the best part of five years, and now we have five books in the series, and I am ready to enable the concept to be taken over by publishers and literary agents, to bring it on to another level.
"I'm a teacher by profession so I am fortunate to have an intricate knowledge of children and to the type of stories that they want.
"In class, I'd ask them to go to the library to pick a book for themselves and they'd complain about there not being anything there that caught their eye, so that gave me the impetus to embark on this project.
"I also had a strong imagination and was always good at English, so coming up with the stories was not a problem for me. I wanted stories that would have them engrossed and keen to stick with."
The Adventures of Jack and Adam is the start of a series of stories following the adventures of two young brothers and their pets, Club, a Labrador dog, and Diamond the cat. In the first book, we find the boys about to start on their summer holidays, just as many of the Secret Seven and Famous Five books did.
Through the remainder of the series, the characters age, go from class to class, and encounter issues that are experienced by many children of their age, such as how to handle bullying, low self-esteem, the onset of responsibility, all concepts that Anthony feels are essential to enable development.
The five books are Wanted; The Widow; The Blaze, The Old Town and now this month the fifth one, Mischa's Secret was published.
This is more than just an interview with an author. If anything, Anthony Broderick is keen to play down the writing to focus on the overall concept, and the role it plays in what he sees in helping encourage children to take up reading books rather than electronic gadgets.
"I never spend long writing the books, as they all just about 15,000 to 20,000 words long, just the ideal size for a children's book. And although modern books tend to focus on fantasy, mine are firmly rooted in realty, because the readers can relate more to the possibility of adventure in their own communities, than in some imagined place."
Anthony has a wide range of merchandise to go with the books, such as a Jack and Adam skateboard, posters, t-shirts, mugs, all designed to maintain the readers' connection with the storylines.
With covers and illustrations designed by Westport-based animator Pat Tracey, they catch the eye and are being snapped up at bookshops around the country.
Anthony is an unusual creative in that he does not get hung up on the writing, which is perhaps the biggest problem for many writers; but focuses instead on the development of the overall series.
As the books progress, the teacher in Anthony Broderick becomes more evident and give the books a different impetus which adds to their value. The Widow is set during Halloween. The boys are looking forward to enjoying the festival in the normal way but “things take a twist before and during the night that leave the boys in a state of trauma.”
In The Old Town, while on holiday the boys are given some freedom to explore their exotic surroundings. They soon learn that with this newfound freedom comes responsibility and that friendly faces can have hidden agendas.
The latest book is Mischa's Secret, which deals with bullying with a sensitivity that only a concerned teacher could show.
The website jackandadamadventures.com encourages readers to get in touch with the author, to talk about storylines, to delve further into the minds of the characters, and this interactive appeal is part of what Anthony hopes will make the series attractive to a literary agent or publisher.
"I work with children and I know the length and type of books they want, and they are not too keen on massive tomes.
During our interview, two restless young lads, aged about 10 and obviously holidaying in the west, are intrigued by the colourful animation of the posters, and are eying us up in the lobby of the hotel where we met.
When we get up to go, Anthony goes over and says "lads, here are some books for ye to read." They grab theirs with great gusto.
Five minutes later when I go back in to have a coffee, I see the lads there, engrossed, One occupying each end of the couch, both deep into the books. All captivated by the magic of Anthony Broderick's words, and his presence, and his manner.
The future is bright for Anthony Broderick. It might be just about to get a lot brighter.
To find out more about his books and the possibilities that they will afford your young readers, see them at the following bookshops:
Charlie Byrnes Bookshop; Books N More Oranmore; O' Connor's Centra, (formerly News N Choose ) Main St, Loughrea; Kenny’s bookshop Galway;. Joyce’s bookshop; Smyths' newsagents Claremorris; Dalys' newsagents Claremorris; Castle Book shop Castlebar; Eason Castlebar; Eason Ballina; McLoughlin’s bookshop Westport; Duffy’s bookshop Westport.
Contact ‘The Adventures of Jack and Adam’ through [email protected] or through any of the ‘Jack and Adam’ social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook Instagram and Snapchat. The main website is jackandadamadventures.com