Writing for just an hour a week led to my first book, says Cork dad

A Carrigaline-based father has written his first children’s book, with funds going to charity, writes COLETTE SHERIDAN
Writing for just an hour a week led to my first book, says Cork dad
Karen O’Sullivan, co-ordinator of services at Down Syndrome with Tim Bywater with his book An Artic adventure with some of the proceeds going to Down Syndrome Ireland. Picture Dan Linehan

A FATHER-of-two, who has a nephew with Down Syndrome, has written a children’s book with half of the proceeds going to DSI (Down Syndrome Ireland).

Tim Bywater, originally from Monkstown and now living in Carrigaline, would love to make a living from writing. But for the moment, this project manager, working in the construction industry, will not be giving up his day job.

Tim, 40, has been writing since his teens, mostly poetry. Apart from his self-published children’s book, An Arctic Adventure, he hasn’t been published but has another idea for a children’s book as well as several ideas for novels.

The writing process as well as self-publishing and promoting his book have whetted Tim’s appetite to write more. He tested his book on his older son, six-year-old Toby, who proudly told his school mates about his father’s accomplishment.

With a demanding career, Tim can only spare an hour a week for his writing.

“If I have spare time, I prefer to spend it with my kids,” he says. He also has a one-year-old son, Noah.

Tim was inspired to write An Arctic Adventure when he watched his brother-in-law taking part in the Tour de Munster in aid of DSI.

“The cyclists do something phenomenal like 600km in four days. The point of the tour is to cycle to the top of Patrick’s Hill. The sheer emotion of seeing people at the top of the hill waiting for the bikes is overwhelming. I always wanted to do it, but I had a motorcycle accident a number of years ago which means I’ll never be able to cycle up Patrick’s Hill. I wanted to do something for DSI. I knew I could write so I decided to do a book.”

Tim Bywater with his book An Artic adventure with some of the proceeds going to Down Syndrome Ireland. Picture Dan Linehan
Tim Bywater with his book An Artic adventure with some of the proceeds going to Down Syndrome Ireland. Picture Dan Linehan

Tim’s wife’s sister has a seven-year-old son, Nate Keohane, who has Down Syndrome.

“Toby and Nate are best friends. The story is based around two main characters, Terry and Neil. Toby and Nate go to separate schools. Nate has an issue with some of the mothers of the other kids not wanting their kids to play with him because he is different. So the book is based on the idea that there are still people out there who think their children shouldn’t play with people who are different to them.”

The book is not just about disability, explains Tim.

“It’s everything; colour, religion, whatever. The book has a happy ending.”

The characters in the book are two penguins. They have friends who are seals, walruses and foxes.

“I didn’t want to write about Down Syndrome in the book so the Neil character is an emperor penguin with a yellow streak on his beak and Terry is a young king penguin with an orange streak on his beak. There are slight differences in how they look.”

The mother of “Sammy the seal doesn’t want him playing with Neil. The story is all about prejudice.”

Tim wants to promote kindness and understanding.

“At the end of the day, children are kind. They only see the innocence of another child rather than who they are, how they are different or where they come from. The prejudices that others have are taught to the characters in the book.”

The book is suited to children aged between three and eight, says Tim. He “went through the rigmarole of trying to get it published. I got kicked back by a couple of publishers because I was doing the book for charity. So I had to self-publish and build a website so people can buy from it. I’ve sold 135 copies since the start of December.”

The book is illustrated by tattoo artist John Coughlan from Cork. Tim wanted drawings to be included in the book. He contacted a lecturer in illustration at St John’s Central College who got the students to create drawings to go with the storyboard of the book as part of their course.

At the end of the college year, Tim was invited to choose the illustrative work that he liked best. John became his collaborator, creating cartoon-like drawings for the book.

“I had been doing an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist in Waterford, but that didn’t work out,” says John. “I’m tattooing friends in a tattoo shop in Waterford for free.”

John enjoyed working on the illustrations for An Arctic Adventure which were done in acrylic paint.

“It was very good experience. The work can be intricate. It depends on what the author wants. A lot of illustration work these days is done using a computer but a lot is still hand done. My work is done by hand.”

If John, 48, wanted to do a degree in illustration, he says he’d have to go to the UK: “I’m keeping my options open,” he says.

An Arctic Adventure is available through fruitionbooks.com for €12.

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