A whimsical photograph of a woodpecker sitting on the back of a weasel was all the inspiration Alan Crane needed to adopt an alter ego and pen his first book.
When in character as Serenity Crane, complete with a cape around his shoulders, a top hat, silver-topped cane and dickie bow tie complete his other persona, Alan becomes almost a performance artist, willing to recite one of his self-penned poems at the drop of a hat.
It’s all a far cry from the man better known as Alan the physiotherapist, who runs Twenty Acre Spa between Spalding and Bourne with his wife Jackie.
As well as The Weasel and The Woodpecker, Alan has also penned two other books with equally fanciful titles, The Antelope and the Anatolian Shepherd Dog and then The Butterfly and The Black Fruit Fly, both of which are available as e-books.
Alan, who set up British Breaktime Books to produce his own work and that of other writers, describes the printed book as an older child’s novel that will have family appeal.
The 65-year-old father of three, grandfather of 16 and great-grandfather of two said: “I think it’s a fantastic thing to be able to do because sometimes it is hard to communicate with all of your family, but they can see you on video, they can read your books and get an insight into your mind if they want to and don’t have to be face to face because sometimes that can be hard.”
His entry into the world of publishing is just another divergence for Alan, who has done a lot with his life since being expelled from school at 15.
He spent 25 years in the Army, during which time he trained to become a physiotherapist and qualified as a University of London teacher. He and Jackie then started their own multi-activity company in Cornwall before going to Indonesia to teach diving.
Soon after returning to the UK they made the move to south Lincolnshire, where they have been running the spa for 11 years.
Visit britishbreaktimebooks.co.uk to buy or find out about Alan’s books.
Alan is just one of a number of local authors to release their latest publications.
Rex Merchant, a well-known former pharmacist from Oakham, has penned Antiques and Diamonds, which is set on the shore of Rutland Water.
It follows the story of an antiques dealer who discovers diamonds belonging to a drug smuggling gang.
It costs £9 and is available from book shops locally.
And Running Home, by Market Deeping based author Lizzie Steel, gives readers a fictional tale.
Set in 1910, this historical romance novel follows the story of Lady Clare Reynolds as she moves to India with her parents.
The book was released in December and is Lizzie’s first independently published book. It is available to buy in either paperback or e-book format at www.amazon.co.uk.
Also fresh from the printers, Deeds of Trouble is the first book by Peterborough writer Philip M Smith.
The book is a medieval mystery aimed at older children, following the adventures of a young monk called Matthew. Set in Stamford and Lincoln the story is full of twists and turns.
The year is 1190AD and Matthew is an apprentice at St Leonard’s Priory, Stamford. The priory has been given deeds to some land, however they need to claim the land through the Royal Court at Lincoln Castle. On route they are ambushed, the deeds stolen and the two monks injured. Matthew must seek help but is mistaken for a criminal and chased through Lincoln. Time is running out to prove his innocence, find justice and claim the land.
The book has historical references and is set in the time of King Richard I who came to the throne in 1199 and soon after left to fight overseas. This was an interesting but difficult time in English history.
The book, costing £5.99 and published by Fast Print Publishing, is available at www.fast-print.net/bookshop/1848/deeds-of-trouble.
While these books explore fictional worlds, retired headteacher John Haden has penned a factual book called Boarding on the State and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Boarding Schools Association, for which John is a former chairman.
The paperback book is now on sale at Walkers of Stamford and Oakham and at bookshops in Uppingham and Oundle, priced at £9.99.
John, a former head of King Edward VI School, Louth and of Wymondham College, Norfolk, is now retired and living in Oakham.
The book aims to explore exactly what a state boarding school is - is it some sort of penal institution?
And also on the subject of education; Janet Downs of Bourne, has co-authored The Truth About Our Schools.
The book was published before Christmas by Routledge and has already received fantastic feedback from Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who said it was a “superb, crucial, blistering expose of all the myths about our education system.”
To find out more or to buy the book, which costs £14.99, visit www.routledge.com.
Stamford author Jay Clarke has also penned a book on education but hers is slightly more unusual as it’s a book of poetry.
The book entitled Poetry for PSHE is an anthology of poems for pupils at secondary schools covering subjects such as friendship, families and social media. As well as a teaching aid, the book also incorporates time-saving lesson plans. The book will be released on February 28, priced at £11.99, from www.troubador.co.uk.