Shropshire Star

Marie's debut book sparked by floor cushion flying saucer

A trip with her grandson in a flying saucer – actually, a giant floor cushion – to Planet Slime has inspired a retired Shropshire health worker to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

Debut author Marie Barber

Two years after that space adventure, Marie Barber is now celebrating the publication of her literary debut, a children's book called Planet Slime.

It features all her own artwork and a rhyming storyline about a little boy called Harry who dreams of going into space and finds himself in a space rocket heading for a strange world with friendly aliens.

Planet Slime

Marie, from Grinshill, said: "Going back to when I was at Phoenix School in Dawley, I was 14 and passionate about art. I produced a topic about London, where I had never been. I've still got it, beautifully written in fountain pen, and beautifully illustrated. I came top of the whole year and my teacher Miss Fisher said 'Marie has so much potential.'

"But because of family pressures I had to leave school at 15 and went to work in a factory, Lowe & Fletcher, the lock and key makers."

Although Marie loved that job, she was later to move into secretarial work and ultimately became a health advisor with the NHS.

She said: "Due to redundancy in 2016 I had more time on my hands and enrolled in Seasons art class, and that reawakened my love of art. I have always liked writing.

"Then I went to Boston in America to visit family, and my grandson Harrison said 'Come on Nana Marie, hop on my flying saucer – I'm taking you to Planet Slime.' The flying saucer was a great big floor cushion. And that's how Planet Slime emerged. Two years later I have finally brought it to fruition."

Marie devised the story, but her grandchildren were to have further input.

"Harrison helped me a little bit by putting Planet Slime in my head – all kids like slime – and then when I read him the story he said 'You've missed out the slime monster.' That's when I put in the frog that inflates."

Marie also wanted to get Harrison's younger sister Margot into the story as well – she is three, and Harrison is four – and as her name rhymes with cargo, she became the stowaway cargo in the space rocket.

She says the book would suit children aged between three and about seven or eight. Published by Nightingale Books, an imprint of Pegasus, it is available through various internet outlets including Amazon and Waterstones, as well as Pegasus's own site.

"I'm thrilled to bits with it," said Marie, who has already written a second children's book, Four Highland Cattle From Mull, although publication of that is some way off.

Planet Slime is dedicated to her grandchildren Harrison and Margot.

"They love it. They think it's brilliant," she said.