Harrogate single mum author comes up trumps with new book

Harrogate children's author Joanna Knight Conry.
Harrogate children's author Joanna Knight Conry.

A Harrogate single mum inspired by Beatrix Potter is to have her debut children's book published in the USA - but she's hoping its new President doesn't take offence.

With a title like Sir Trump-a-Lot, it's expected fledgling author J. Knight Conry will make an impression when her light-hearted story written in verse is released there next year.
The new book, which features lovely illustrations by her brother Dominic Port, has just been published in the UK by Austin Macauley.
Based on the adventures of the gallant but rather 'windy' lead character, a smelly old knight in armour, it's packed with good humour and invention, though a little less genteel than Potter's famous characters like Peter Rabbit or Benjamin Bunny.
Joanna said: "I'm really blessed by this great opportunity. It's been a long road getting here.
"When I first wrote the story three years ago, I had no idea who Donald Trump was. I don't know what to expect when it's published in America next year. It could go either way, I suppose."
Joanna, 40, currently works in the area of adult mental health and was also a volunteer at Harrogate's Saint Michael's Hospice for 18 months.
She's also had an extensive amount of experience working with children from nursery and infant age groups up to juniors.
But being a lone parent of two children is never easy and her path to become a children's author has certainly had its bumps and knocks.
Having been born in York, her young years saw Joanna moving around a fair amount, including Snaith in East Riding, Canterbury in Kent and Preston in Lancashire.
She's lived in Harrogate now for 11 years but first fell in love with town in her late teens when she was studying Music & performing Arts at Harrogate College.
It's fair to say her adult years have been eventful, living an almost celebrity lifestyle at one point during her first marriage.
Joanna has faced failures and knockbacks but perservered with a sense of purpose.
And, like her fictitious star of her book Sir Trump-a-Lot, she has emerged triumphant finally.
She said: "It feels great to have finally achieved something for myself and my children.
"Juggling everything when you are a single parent is the hardest thing in the world. I was down and depressed for quite a few years.
"My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer three or four years ago so I needed to be at home more.
"I thought to myself, what can I do to make my life better?"
She'd always been a music fan - she studied BSc Music Technology at Leeds Metropolitan & Leeds College of Music - and had long held a dream of becoming a professional musician.
That seemed impractical but her quest for a goal or an ambition was answered during a visit to the Lake District.
"I took the children to Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top. I loved it. It was so fascinating walking round the house.
"It reminded me of being a little girl in Giggleswick. I must have visited the house three times that year. That's when I got inspired to start writing children's books."
Having plunged herself into this new world of writing, Joanna came up with the outlines for six books in just three weeks.
Bursting with ambition, she joined the Writers Handbook online and enlisted the help of her younger brother Dominic, a talented and successful artist and digital designer who lives in Brighton.
Still, there were years of setbacks and near misses ahead of her before Joanna finally found the right character in the right story with the right drawings to attract a proper publisher, enabling her to bypass the penniless world of self publishing.
Self-critical but determined by nature, all Joanna's hard work has now paid off.
Shortly she will do a book signing for Sir Trump-a-Lot at Waterstones in York and is hopeful of doing another one in her home town of Harrogate, too.
Her debut book is just the first in her planned Knights of the Pong Table series.
Who, knows, as long as Donald Trump doesn't take offence, success in the USA could follow soon.
Joanna said: I've had to start putting myself out there a bit, doing promotional duties like setting up a Facebook page for the book and doing interviews.
"It's been exciting but a bit daunting."
Sir Trump-a-Lot is available to order from Waterstones, WHSmiths, Blackwells, Foyles, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com, alongside most other independent booksellers
Please note, to find out more about the book, Sir Trump-a-Lot now has his own website.

Part of the front book cover of children's book Sir Trump-a-Lot.

Part of the front book cover of children's book Sir Trump-a-Lot.