Owen McDevitt started his teaching career in 2001. He has since travelled the world teaching in Thailand, Oman, South Africa and England before joining the British International School HCMC in 2018 as a Secondary English Teacher. Owen is passionate about education and literature leading him to his latest venture 'Uncle Simon's Stories'.
When Uncle Simon is asked to voyage from Rio to Cape Town, he calls upon his friend Wayne for help. Together, the two shipmates sail the sea, enjoying the sights and battling the elements. But when their yacht springs a leak, they must act fast to make it back to land.
We speak to Owen about his inspiration for this charming story of friendship and fun...
What was your inspiration for 'Uncle Simon’s Stories'?
I started writing ‘Uncle Simon’s Stories’ in 2018 whilst we were living in Canada. My brother, the Simon in the story, passed away in July 2017. I had the idea of writing a children’s picture book that captured one of his many escapades, so that it could be shared with my boys, Simon’s son, and his other nephews and nieces. Simon was a wonderful character who experienced a lot of adventures, including sailing yachts across the Atlantic Ocean and along the South American coast. One of the wonderfully entertaining stories that Simon used to tell was of sailing a small yacht from Rio de Janeiro to Cape Town with a good friend. Lots of things went wrong on the journey, but they made it. ‘Uncle Simon’s Stories’ is loosely based on this trip.
Tell us about the process of writing and publishing the book…
Writing the story was relatively easy; I had a good idea of what I thought my boys would enjoy from the many children’s books we’d read together. We all enjoy the flow and pace of Julia Donaldson’s books and ‘The Toucan Brothers’ by Tor Freeman, so I tried to keep a regular rhythm and rhyme throughout ‘Uncle Simon’s Stories’. It took a long time to find an illustrator though; there were several stops and starts before an author friend put me in touch with Candy Jar Publishing in the UK. They organised an illustrator, Terry Cooper, and it then came together quite quickly.
How can we get a copy of 'Uncle Simon’s Stories'?
The book is now available through the Candy Jar Publishing website and there are also several copies in the Early Years and Infant Campus library.