Meet the Author!
NOT HOOLIGOAT APPROVED
Are you wondering how a mere storyteller like myself would get to know so much about the Dudley Huldufólks?
Well, to begin at the beginning, I actually wrote my first story when I was about seven years old, and the headmaster of Oakham County Primary School, where I was a pupil, seemed quite impressed with it when he read it out to the class. As is often the way, though, as soon as I reached teen years, life tended to get in the way and my creativity was put on hold. Having said that, my eventual career was in accountancy, which I think was probably quite creative, in its own little way.
But then, a few years ago, when my wife Jane ran a café that was in an old, converted barn, I got the chance to look after four naughty pygmy goats. In fact, naughty is a bit of an understatement, as looking after them quickly became a battle of wits. Mine against theirs. Looking back, of course, I realise I never stood a chance. There was fence-destruction and breakouts, there was head butting my shins, there was head butting my knees, and there was even head butting my nose, when I made the mistake of kneeling down to clip Cuthbert's hooves.
Worse still, was the constant nibbling of clothes. I have painful memories of the time we hosted a hen-party at the café. The head bridesmaid thought it would be a good idea if the bride, who was beautifully dressed, and complete with veil, could be allowed to sit with the goats and feed them treats. Really? What a mistake that was. Needless to say, the bride's attire was not in quite such pristine condition when she re-emerged, somewhat shaken, from the goats’ paddock. We never found the veil.
I tried so many ways to 'train' the goats to behave and eventually found that, if I sat quietly on the bench by their shed and read a story to them, they would calm down and stand by me, happily chewing cud. (I should point out that several so-called 'friends' have told me that my voice is so boring it could send people to sleep. Maybe it works with pygmy goats too). So, I found myself spending several hours, sitting on the bench and reading to the goats. It certainly beat getting under Jane’s feet in the café. What I didn't realise at first, is that the goats enjoyed the stories. I don't mean that they enjoyed the sound of me talking, I mean that they were actually listening to the stories. Far-fetched? Well, that's nothing compared with the fact that, after I'd done this a dozen or so times, Ralph the Raucous came over to me, put his head down and gently nudged my legs with his horns. He looked up at me and, with a wink and a smile, he spoke.
'We've very much enjoyed the stories that you’ve read to us, Mr Hudley,' he said, 'especially the ones about The Discworld. May we introduce you to our friend Kat, so that she can tell you about all of our adventures?'
I have to say, I was gobsmacked. Well, wouldn't you be gobsmacked if you knew that pygmy goats' literary appreciation included stories by Terry Pratchett? Anyway, that was the beginning of a wonderful collaboration. Kat popped by several times and, with frequent interruptions from the goats, told me all about their escapades. She even let me in on the secret role that Wren's Nest has played in the grand-design of the universe. Afterwards, when she’d finished and was about to say goodbye for the last time, my decades as a suspicious accountant kicked in, and I asked for confirmation that what I’d been told was true. At that point, Kat morphed into a pygmy goat, and the five of them stood in front of me, raised a hoof to roughly where I guess their heart was, and assured me that everything was mostly true. Honestly, who am I to doubt a hoof-on-heart moment?
While they had all been talking to me, I’d made lots of notes, and they were so impressed with what I’d written that they commissioned me to write a three-part children's fantasy adventure based on their lives, all with a pinch of Black Country humour thrown in. When I say they commissioned me, I should add that they're not actually paying me. Barney the Badass, in particular, insisted that profits from the sale of the first part of the trilogy, The Kat And The Hooligoats - And Suet Begins, would go to Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats, which is a registered charity. They also said it would be really nice if people were to buy copies of the book from either barryhudleyauthor.co.uk, or from buttercups.org.uk so that we maximise the amount that goes to support goats who end up at the sanctuary because they've been mistreated or abused.