The inspiration for the books comes from my childhood memories. My mum was born in a little village outside Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, and this is where we spend a number of holidays in the Red House Cottage. Literally,
200 yards from the door was the Drift, which was an open area of woodland, fields and trees and at the time the remnants of an old railway line. The residents of these fields included, badgers, foxes, rabbits, etc. In later life, these animals were the inspiration to write the 1st Drift book- Perils of the Treasure Map, and the adventures they had together solving mysteries and working together to save their home from various dangers and threats.
In the stories we meet our four trusted friends, Rollie, a Pine Marten, Toby, a fox, Donie, the Hedgehog and Rowan, the Badger as well as the other residents of the Drift and some slightly more unsavoury characters such as Sykes, the Badger, Lenny, the grey squirrel, and the mysterious boatman in the latest book, the Unseen Enemy.
In the ‘Unseen Enemy’ we find the residents of the Drift enjoying the mid-summer fayre, which is their annual celebration. The following morning the joy of the fayre is forgotten when they discover dozens of dead fish in the river, which is a lifeline for the animals. Our heroes need to discover the cause of this disaster urgently as their very existence depends on solving it. In desperation they go into the depths of the Drift to find the mysterious Selma, who lives a solitary existence with her plants and herbs to see if she can help them in their darkest hour. To make matters worse a mysterious boatman is seen in the Drift, who is he, and is he responsible for the poisoning?
The animals of the Drift must come together and face their greatest challenge, plus they must decide if they will trust the shadowy Selma to help them in what turns out to be a story of revenge which has dragged the innocent residents of the Drift into the middle of a battle for their very survival. Led by the irrepressible Rollie, they formulate a plan to face the boatman in one final and climatic showdown, which they cannot lose.
The main themes of all three books are adventure, friendship and the spirit of the animals of the Drift to come together when they need it the most, mixed in with humour and the deep love of their home which shines through above all else.
The books are targeted at the early reading ages of 6 up to around 9, although I have had positive feedback from parents who have read the books to a slightly younger age-group. As I mentioned earlier the books are pure adventure and escapism for children, and intended to keep them engrossed and turning the pages, while falling in love with the characters and caring about their lives and wanting to know what happens to them on every page.
The back story to the Unseen Enemy is somewhat of a journey. At the end of March 2022 I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma (blood cancer) which came out of the blue and knocked my wife Gill and me for six. The resulting months meant an intensive course of treatments which included a large number of chemo sessions and daily medications. The end goal was to be a stem cell transplant, which eventually came to fruition in November 2022. In addition to this I found out I had a slight spinal deformity thanks to the myeloma and slightly more worrying was the damage I had to my C6 vertebrae. They eventually addressed this by inserting a form of cement into my neck on day surgery to strengthen the joint.
For the stem cell transplant I had to go into hospital for a total of 18 days, which meant being in isolation with no visitors, only phone and video calls as any communication with the outside world. It was during this time that I started to get deep into writing the Unseen Enemy. With so much time on my hands the writing became my method of staying sane and passing away the long days. Unfortunately, I lost a few days at the start of the stay due to the after effects of the intense chemo, but as soon as that started to wear off I was back onto writing again. I eventually emerged from hospital on the 10th December with the book ¾ finished in a rough draft. I was particularly pleased with this story as I had written it during a very difficult time physically and emotionally and perhaps that’s why this one has a slightly darker edge to it, which is what I was looking for in reality.
As I write this to authors lounge having been in remission now for a couple of months which is a huge relief and has meant being able to get back to somewhere near a normal life again. It was during this period that I really appreciated how much writing meant to me and what an amazing outlet it is, I say that having completed this 3rd book is far more meaningful than the success or otherwise of the story with regards to sales.
The Perils of the Codebreaker: Tales from the Drift Vol 2: Amazon.co.uk: Morris, Chris: 9781803691275: Books
THE UNSEEN ENEMY – VOL. 3: The Drift Series: Amazon.co.uk: Morris, Chris: 9781916707924: Books