A children’s book about a family of hyenas - impersonating humans, that’s bound to make you laugh, isn’t it?
That’s the hope of comedian and entertainer-turned-author Julian Clary, as he launches his debut children’s novel The Bolds later this month.
And to help promote the release, he’ll be headlining Lytham’s Festival Of Stories in The Authors - Live At The Big Top.
The Festival Of Stories is one of the new elements of Lytham Festival, with ‘story-led fun and frolics’ at Park View 4U - the Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields.
Clary will appear ‘in conversation’ with acclaimed illustrator David Roberts, who has brought his characters to life on the page.
“I wanted to write a children’s book to relive the thrill I used to get as a child entering a fictional world,” he said. “The idea came from stories I used to make up for myself as a child, and I grew up in Teddington – a very suburban place with tree-lined streets and a nice park – so it seemed right and proper to set it there.
“I am thrilled to have the wonderful illustrator David Roberts bring The Bolds to life for me. He has the ability to convey my humour brilliantly and his drawings are always funny and endearing.”
Julian’s tale sees the hyenas use elaborate disguises to hide their secret lives from their neighbours, in a very ordinary suburban house.
He’s built a career as a stand-up comedian, but also makes regular pantomime appearances, won Celebrity Big Brother, appeared on Strictly Come Dancing and is fronting a new natural history show for ITV.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve put stand-up to one side; I can multi task,” he said. “But contacting my inner-child and writing The Bolds has been a source of great joy for me.
“I loved writing it and have just finished a sequel.
“It’s hard to be taken seriously as a writer when you’re a comedian so it made sense to write a funny book.”
But why did he turn to the animal kingdom, and hyenas in particular?
“Children like and understand animals,” he said. “My own childhood imagination was filled with the idea that animals are just as clever as human beings, just misunderstood. This seems an idea worth pursuing.
“I like hyenas because they laugh so much – I loved the idea of laughter being their primary concern. Much like myself.
“There are lots of other animals in the book too, though.
“It is quite clear to me that animals can communicate, experience emotions and express themselves with an intelligence that is different from but equal to ours.
“Human beings assume superiority and The Bolds aim is to restore the balance.
“The fact that animals are as smart as us is the big secret. Children will understand this because they haven’t yet been conditioned.”
* Julian Clary’s The Bolds, for ages eight and over, is released on Thursday, July 30.
He comes to Lytham Festival on Sunday, August 9, at 3.30pm. Tickets for a family of four cost £10, including one copy of the book, and £20 with two copies.