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Firefly author Laura Sheldon on writing and sheds!

The idea for Mr Mahli’s Shed and a ghost named Dylan began two years ago when I introduced my class to the work of Dylan Thomas. They really flew with it and were soon creating lots of fantastic (albeit slightly plagiarized!) work of their own. We looked at a YouTube clip of Laugharne and mused about how wonderful it would be to have a space for writing, like Dylan Thomas’ shed, where writing was the only activity that took place and everything was set up to be peaceful and inspiring at the same time. The classroom I was teaching in was set on the school field with a wonderful view of the sea, and we soon got to thinking about building our own writing shed on the side of the classroom. It took months but the – very supportive and generous – PTA came up with the goods and Sully School writers’ shed was opened in October last year. The children can write anything in there and now and then I sneak in and read through the piled-high notebooks and discover a world of poems, stories, diary accounts and song lyrics from the minds of our creative (and unrestrained) children.

There’s nothing more inspirational to me than inspired children and the idea that magic happens in the shed came to me from watching them. I loved the idea that the ghost of Dylan Thomas could meet two children from 2014 and started to think about how they would interact, how would they influence him and how would he influence them? What would Dylan Thomas do if he found himself as a ghost in a teacher’s cupboard? Fall in love?

The children in the story are mixtures of my own children, those of friends and the children I have taught and so I hope my readers can find a new friend or someone to identify with in the book. They’re brave and adventurous but a little bit nervous and naïve, don’t always make the right decisions but have good hearts. Like most of us really!

Laura Sheldon