Before writing The Kat and The Hooligoats - And Suet Begins, the only story that I'd completed was one I wrote when I was seven years old, something the Hooligoats never tired of mentioning when they were telling me about their adventures with Katherine The Kat Briscoe. Cuthbert, in particular, was sceptical about whether I could do justice to what, they insisted, amounted to their biography. They were pleasantly surprised, however, once they'd seen the finished article, and so commissioned me to write the sequel (The Kat and The Hooligoats - The Curs of The Weirdwolf), to be published in 2022. There's also a prequel called The Hooligoats and Lonely Mr Gohturd, which will be released shortly and only available on www.barryhudleyauthor.co.uk.
Of course, there's been quite a gap in between writing the story at seven years old and publishing The Kat and The Hooligoats - And Suet Begins. Sixty years, to be exact, but that's what happens when life gets in the way and you end up working as an accountant. In my defence to being an accountant, however, I once completed one of those personality-profile tests as part of a management training course. When my boss saw the results, he said, 'Are you sure you're an accountant? Have you thought about doing something more creative?' Well, that surprised me, because I'd always thought that accounting work was all about being creative. It did start me thinking about writing again, however, so I enrolled on an Open University course in Creative Writing and followed that up later on with a week-long residential course with Arvon, who specialise in helping aspiring authors with the craft of writing.
The only question, of course, was what could I write about? That's where The Hooligoats came in. Four pygmy goats with serious attitude. I had the privilege of looking after them for a few years and I'd often sit, with the goats gathered around me, and tell them short stories that I'd written. At least, I did until Ralph came up with the brilliant idea that, instead of me telling them, they would tell me about their adventures.
And The Hooligoats now? They're alive and well and as mischievous as ever, working as part of a team of animals who look after the emotional wellbeing of pupils at York House School in Rickmansworth. They've even featured in an article in the Sunday Telegraph.
One disappointment for me, is that I've never actually met Katherine The Kat Briscoe. For obvious reasons, I guess, she prefers to keep out of the limelight. Something to do with saving the world, and all that.
By the way, when I said that The Hooligoats had commissioned me to write, I should add that they're not paying me. Profits from the sale of And Suet Begins will go to Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats (Buttercups.org.uk). That was Barney's idea, not mine!
The Kat and The Hooligoats - The Curs of The Weirdwolf will be available in 2022.
The Hooligoats and Lonely Mr Gohturd will be available soon, only on www.barryhudleyauthor.co.uk