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Article and Picture: Matt Bigwood.

Wotton-under-Edge author James Rugman has written and illustrated a series of childrens books, in addition to his first novel, Chasing the Rain, which was published in 2019.

“I am a multi-genre author and illustrator and I have written novels as well as childrens books and have even created a couple of picture books. When I was younger, I enjoyed writing as a hobby and wrote lots of short stories and novellas as a bit of escapism, using them to get away from the drudgery of exams and assignments,” explained James.

“It was during my time at university that I really found a passion for it. I studied animal husbandry and animal biology at college before going on to university to study for my bachelors in animal science. After university, I had an extensive career in animal welfare, even working for the RSPCA, before going into teaching animal husbandry at the same college I attended as a student. I write part time, but I hope one day to do it as my full-time career.”

Whilst studying for his degree, James read extensively about the migratory behaviour of the wildebeest and came up with the story for his first novel, Chasing the Rain.

“The story follows young wildebeest Berko, the son of Imamu, the herds strongest leader. Berko has spent his entire life hidden in his fathers shadow, but this year he must take part in a brutal rite of passage that will mark the end of his childhood and secure his position within the herd.

“But when he discovers an enemy far closer than even his father could have foreseen, he must overcome the greatest challenges hes ever had to face, and prove he is more than just the son of the great Imamu. Its a different take on the typical coming of age story, told from the perspective of a young wildebeest on the plains of Africa. It is inspired by my love of animals, and classic animal stories like Watership Down and Black Beauty,” said James.

“My other books have all been inspired by my son; he absolutely loves books, and he too loves animals as much as I do. Oscar the Ostrich Gets Lost is a fun story book about a baby Ostrich who goes in search of his mum, meeting lots of different animals along the way. I wrote it as a fun gift for my sons second birthday, and my wife said I should release it. I enlisted the help of some local children to be my test audience, and when I received so much great feedback, I thought Id give it a go.

“I am currently writing my second novel which I hope to release early next year. My wife and I are also expecting our second child, and I want to carry on creating childrens books that our daughter will enjoy just as much as my son does, and I already have lots of ideas flying around my head for some fun new stories.”

You can find James books on the Waterstones and Amazon websites.