"Last week, while holidaying in Ireland, I spent a pleasant day in Cork, which is now firmly established as one of Ireland's cultural centres with its art and book festivals. Being in Cork reminded me of being in love with reading as there is an unrivalled pleasure and beauty in all books.
I first fell in love with girls when I reached eleven, but it would be another seven years before I fell deeply in love with books.
Indeed, between the ages of twenty-six and thirty-six, our marital home had no television, but instead housed a library of 7,000 books that gave me tremendous pride to own. I would buy four or five books a week and finished up possessing more books than Imelda Marcos, the First Lady of the Philippines, had pairs of shoes!
When I was divorced in my thirties, I left the non-mortgaged house and possessions to my first wife and started up again with an empty bank balance and a pocket full of dreams. I moved into an old Victorian cottage with no roof and which required years of renovations to bring up to scratch as a family home.
With money being scarce, I took on a second and third job as well as being a Probation Officer to help pay for child maintenance and other extras when the children came to me on Sunday afternoon access. In spite of working in a coal yard labouring on a Saturday morning and as a bingo caller three evenings per week, in addition to my Probation Officer's occupation, I remained short of required monies, so I decided to sell my only substantial asset. To get additional money I eventually sold all, but a few hundred of my treasured books at a fraction of their true value.
I can still recall seeing my library disappear before my eyes and the deep sadness it brought. At the time, I felt bereft with losing my books and I literally cried to see them go.
While I'd visited libraries in my youth, I started to visit them in earnest in my second marriage once I stopped owning books and began to borrow them again. Borrowing books helped me to break my addiction towards needing to possess them. I realised that I could still benefit from reading books even when they weren't mine and that the knowledge gained from reading a book from the public library as opposed to from my private book shelf was no less! It was from this awareness at the late age of forty that I accepted that any possession that causes grief and emotional upset to be without had no place in my home.
I soon came to view the public library as 'thought in cold storage,' an array of escapades and adventures I'd often dreamt about having, but which had so far escaped me. It was in the library where the birth of an idea came that was to change my life. I started to imagine that one day I would write my own book. I had always believed that we all have a book in us.
Another ten years was to pass before I put pen to paper and wrote my first book, then a second. The manuscripts were then placed in the bottom drawer and forgotten about and I made no attempt to get these adult novels published until recently. 'Rebecca's Revenge' was published six months ago and 'Come Back Peter' is due for publication next month. Please note that both these books are strictly adult reading only.
As the years passed, I eventually found myself promoting public awareness of numerous causes affecting society such as homelessness and increased disability etc. The ones that really concerned me however, were those that adults find hard to cope with, but children invariably find overwhelming, like the bereavement of a family member, pet or friend and the emotional turmoil of acute loss, along with bullying and name calling by their peers.
I found that I was better able to access child feelings if I placed them in story characters, so I started to write stories for children. My work in this field mushroomed and brought me to the attention of Royalty, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Film stars, Actors, Authors and all manner of celebrity and famous names. Between 1990 and 2005, my books for children numbered dozens and had been publically read in approaching two thousand Yorkshire schools by famous people. The profits from their sales of £200,000 was given in entirety to charitable causes, as they are today and will be in perpetuity.
Since 1990, I have had sixty-four books published and some have even been praised by the late Princess Dianna and Nelson Mandela, along with the Chief Inspector of Schools for Ofsted, Chris Woodhead, who recently died. Mr Mandela phoned me and described my African stories as being 'wonderful.' Princess Diana also contacted me and requested that I send her two of my books, which she could read, to the young princes William and Harry, then aged 9 and 7 years. Chris Woodhead gave a press interview to the Guardian newspaper and described my writing as 'high quality literature.' Between 1990 and 2002, over 850 famous names had publically read from my books to school assemblies.
Neil Richard MacKinnon Gaiman, an English novelist who shares my birthday with me on the 10th of November once said that libraries are the thin red line between civilisation and barbarism. Libraries have played an important part in my life and it saddens me to see so many of them closed year upon year. I say that the Government should reverse this insane policy. They should be taking bonuses from bankers; not library books from children!" William Forde: July 13th, 2015.