Grampy Vic, Dad, Me and Grampy Jim
Grampy Vic, Dad, Me and Grampy Jim

Swiss Valley, Llanelli, Wales

Christmas 1984

This picture I dug out of my parent’s attic sometime last year. It is one of the only surviving photographs of me with both my grandfathers. For that reason, I love it.

Another reason it hits home for me is that it was a source of inspiration when it came to plotting Crystal Green and the Moon Machine.

I was in the early stages of developing Crystal as a character and I wanted her to go on adventures with her grandfather. This relationship seemed like such a delicious relationship to write. It’s different to a parental relationship, and yet has a lot of the same feelings, emotions and drives.

I then came across this photo and Crystal became clearer. I had an image in my head of Crystal and her family having a picture taken at Christmas in their family home and just like that, they were all real.

I had to do, and in fact am still doing, lots of characterisation and plotting and story arching etc but them as people were alive in my head. And that moment came from this picture… actually, it came from an amalgamation of the photo above and the one below…

Auntie An, Nana Gwyn, Me, Nana Ve and Auntie Helen
Auntie An, Nana Gwyn, Me, Nana Ve and Auntie Helen

It was family. Family means everything. So I set about creating Crystal a family, blowing it to smithereens, and then over the course of several books, having Crystal create herself a new family.

I think that makes an interesting story, especially as I firmly believe that family is not only the people you are related to by blood, but the people you choose to surround yourself with.

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