Erno the Magic Miner has an important job.
When Tickety Boo the wizard runs out of magic, it’s up to Erno to go and mine some more for him.
But first Tickety Boo must find him, leaving behind his castle to travel through Magic Tree Wood in search of The Magic Mine.
“Erno is pretty special - and he holds a really special place in my heart,” smiles writer and illustrator Scott Morton, of his newest character.
“He’s based on my dad, who worked as a miner all his life, and would spend many an evening telling me and my brothers stories of life in the pits.”
Erno is just the latest in a long line of characters created by Scott, who has written over 100 children’s stories already, and self-published three: Martin the Martian, The Great Old Wizard Tickety Boo, and - of course - Erno The Magic Miner. This latest book, which is available on Amazon, is a wonderful rhyming tale, that has taken nearly two years to create, illustrate and publish.
“My dad was one of the initial inspirations for my writing, so it’s brilliant to be able to honour him like this,” says Scott, aged 48, of Westfield.
“When we were kids, dad would sit by the fireside with us carving the most amazing walking sticks and telling us all kinds of stories. My mum was always knitting toys and painting fabulous pictures too, and my Grandma loved making up rhyming stories with me. It was around this time I began writing and illustrating.”
Scott says he is greatly influenced by the work of authors such as Spike Milligan and Julia Donaldson, but unlike these writers, his writing must fit in around his full time job as a supervisor at Pennine Foods, in Waterthorpe. In fact, the demands of his work, coupled with a hectic private life and a mounting list of rejection letters from big-name publishers, caused him to put away his pens for a few years. The death of his father Ernest in 2005 was the catalyst that finally brought Scott’s cast of characters to the printed page.
“When my father died I felt that I just had to finish my stories,” he explains.
“My own children loved reading and drawing as kids. They grew up with my characters, as I was always reading my stories to them.”
His wife, Angela, confirms: “When I was pregnant with my first child I used to wake up in the middle of the night to find Scott on the edge of the bed writing or drawing something that had come to into his head during the night.
“When our eldest child Kyle was younger, Scott used to read his stories to him. Then when our second son Daniel came along, Scott wrote a new batch of stories.”
Scott adds: “The kids are 23 and 21 now, but they still love to dabble. My son Kyle designs and manages my website and Daniel gets the books ready to print. My wife Angela is my biggest cheerleader and quality checker. She has some great ideas and we make a great team. When I’m finished, she takes over checking each picture and text for errors and sometimes I have to redraw or alter sections. I’m too close and involved in my work to pick up on some of the things that she does.
“It’s become something of a family business and I’m so grateful for all of their input.”
And though Scott says writing on top of a full time job isn’t easy, he’s never short of inspiration and motivation to write.
“It isn’t always easy to find time for my stories and illustrating, but I will never quit again,” he says.
“I write through the day and work at night, and I love picking up my sketch book and letting my imagination run wild. I hope one day to be able to do this as a full time occupation.”
And Scott - whose wife Angela says she believes her husband could well be the UK’s answer to Walt Disney - even finds time, in between writing and working, to inspire the next generation. Scott regularly volunteers in schools across the region, hosting workshops on writing and illustrating, teaching children how to create characters and then helping them bring them to life.
“I read to classes of children and make storyboards with them. We create the characters together, and they tell me what to draw. Finally I write the story for them and present it to the school as a keepsake. I absolutely love it.”
Scott reveals he continues to find inspiration for his new books and characters in those closest to him.
“I’m so proud of both of my children and that definitely seeps in to what I do. My next book, which is already well underway, is based around music, called ‘The Fish That Rocks.’ My son Kyle is in a band so that’s obviously been an influence.
“The truth is there’s no shortage of ideas and stories. I carry a leatherbound notebook around with me at all times and it’s just teeming with little stories.”