I first came to know Maisey Morley, or Baby Julia as she was back then, when I travelled to England with my son Ben in mid 1991. Looking back I can’t help thinking it was quite a brave move on my part to travel half way across the world from New Zealand, just me and my little boy, who was about three and a half at the time. As it turned out I needn’t have worried. I bought him a model of Singapore Airlines jet and between playing with that and watching the movies, I think of the two of us, he probably kept himself better amused on that long flight than I did!
My big sisters, Anne and Jane, who are twins although no-one would guess it, were waiting excitedly at Heathrow airport for our arrival. We drove back to Anne’s flat in Epsom and she had got this cute polar bear glove puppet which I think was part of some sort of department store promotion. The polar bear was actually called JB Junior but Ben, who couldn’t quite get his tongue round the name, began calling her Baby Julia.
Ben adored Baby Julia who came everywhere with us on that trip and every evening Anne and I would make up bedtime stories for Ben about Baby Julia. The time came for us to fly back to New Zealand and Anne realised she would have to say good-bye to Baby Julia since Ben was clearly not going to let her out of his sight without a fight.
I continued to make up stories about Baby Julia when we arrived back in New Zealand and of course she accompanied us when we moved to Australia as my (now ex) husband had secured a job on the Gold Coast. We had been in Australia for a couple of years when I enrolled in a correspondence course with The Writing School. It was during this time that I committed my first story about the little polar bear, who was still called Baby Julia, to paper. This is my tutor’s assessment of my very first Baby Julia manuscript.
That was dated 12 July 1997 and marked the beginning of a very long journey trying to get Baby Julia published. Eventually I added more stories, set it to rhyme and rather reluctantly changed her name from Baby Julia to Maisey Morley in order to make the syllables more uniform in the rhymes.
The name Morley is my son’s middle name, a family name on his father’s side which spans several generations down to my grandson, Sonny Morley Brown who was born in March last year and who Maisey’s latest book is dedicated to.
By 2020 I had pretty much given up hope of ever having my stories published but by then I had a bit more time on my hands. I had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2016 which eventually led to me having to give up my full-time freight forwarding job, even though I did (and still do) a bit of work from home on a freelance/contract basis. My MS – My Story, an article I wrote about my journey with multiple sclerosis can be found on the MS Society webpage
Finally I had a bit more time to devote to these stories but I figured it might be easier to get them published if I had some illustrations. Since my own illustrations would look like something I’d mindlessly scribbled when I was about eight years old, I turned to my sister Anne who also had some additional time on her hands during the Covid lockdown. Anne, who has always been the more artistic one of the family, had been attending art classes with exceptional results. We decided to collaborate together to make this series of children’s books which after all, was something we’d both started about thirty-five years earlier!
On 23 September 2021 we signed a contract with Pegasus Elliott Mackenzie Publishers in the UK for the first book in the series, Maisey Morley’s First Christmas. The book was released on 27 January 2022 and is available for purchase on Amazon or directly from Pegasus Publishers. A short video of Maisey and me reading a few verses of the book is on the New Zealand Society of Authors YouTube page.
I created a website for Maisey along with social media pages which can be accessed using the links on her website . Maisey regularly posts videos and blogs and the site is interactive with pages for children.
Her next adventure, Maisey Morley and the Teddy Bear’s Picnic is coming together nicely and I’m keeping fingers crossed that this will be published sometime next year.
It’s a bit of a leap to go from freight forwarding to children’s author and there’s no doubt I’m firmly at the bottom of this particular learning curve but I’m enjoying the ride so far!