Interview: UEA cleaning staff member releases children’s books

Born in Leeds in the aftermath of World War II, Jim Moore has led a very active life. After being part of UEA’s cleaning staff for thirteen years, he’s achieved his dream of becoming an author. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim about his books, as well as aspects of his own history. It was fascinating hearing his experiences of Norwich, and how they’ve inspired his novels. 

Q – Could you tell our readers a little about your books? 

A – The first one, ‘Radulf the Aetherling’, sets out to describe the survival of our animal characters when their fields are being developed on. During this time, a rat prince and his army takes over the running of the valley at Bowthorpe, endeavouring to restore order – but of course, chaos ensues. In the second book, ‘The Valley of Witches’, Radulf realises he can’t fight against the development and the unwelcome attention of the witches from the other worlds, and so he sets a journey to Venta Icenorman – the ruined town linked to Queen Boudica – and this paves the way to the third book.

Q – How did you start writing?

A – When my children were younger, I would read them bedtime stories, and eventually I’d make up my own. I elected to make notes each night which, over the years, would be put together in notebooks and left in the loft. My children always encouraged me to turn these notes into books for them, so I started to piece them together. After suffering a minor stroke in 2018, I was shocked into getting the books published.

Q – Norfolk, the setting for your books, is clearly very special to you. Did you know as soon as you arrived here that would be the case?

A – My father decided to move us away from Leeds and into Norwich when I was nearly 10 years old. Despite having been bullied in school, I hadn’t wanted to move. One morning, after hearing farm noises, I decided to explore. I was amazed to see the streets full of cows and auctioneers. Old Norwich was still existing at this point, and I would wander around – it was almost Dickensian – and I loved it. I was so fascinated, especially as Leeds had been very industrial. My fascination grew from exploring the city, and from the natural parts. It’s a marvellous place, and the growing industrialisation has made me eager to keep the natural aspects of Norwich alive through my books. 

Q – Did you face any issues when writing?

A – I finished school at 15 years old, and my education hadn’t been to the standard it is today. As a result, I was never taught grammar. I’ve had to have sentences altered for them to make sense. The grammar still isn’t fully standardised, but I’ve been told that it works for the story, and the readers don’t find it a problem.

Q – After the trilogy, are you planning to write another book, or was three always the goal?

A – Well, my wife has lived quite a dramatic life, and I’ve always said I’d love to write her life story. We’ve been married since we were very young, so I’ve been there for a lot of her life, but it’s been interesting to see her perspective. Her entire life has seen its ups and downs, and there’s some experiences that I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s emotionally difficult to go through, but I know it’ll be incredibly rewarding.

Q – If you’re comfortable, please could you talk us through the charity elements of your book?

A – My wife and I suffered a stillbirth many years ago, and there was very little support back then, but fortunately, there are now many charities who help bereaved parents. £1 of each sale will be donated to Sands, which provides support to families who have experienced neonatal deaths. Sands wasn’t around when we had our painful experience, and we have no keepsakes of our baby, but Sands creates memory boxes for bereaved parents, as well as offering emotional support. Although our experience was many years ago, it is still very emotional for us, and the help we’ve received from Norfolk Sands and Chairperson Sarah Green has been incredible. 

Alongside this, the second book of the trilogy, ‘The Valley Witches’ is dedicated to Christopher, the son we lost, as he will always be remembered. For more information about Norfolk Sands, you can visit

Q – You clearly find inspiration from Norwich’s history and nature, but is there anything else that inspires you? Are there any similarities between your characters and people you know?

A – I had a wonderful teacher who read us ‘The Wind in the Willows’ and that always stuck in my head. All through my books, I include ecosystems in their realistic environments, which I’m hoping helps educate young readers. I wrote the books in mind that the readers could follow a route of historic buildings as they go – and this could even be a trail they could walk along. As for characters, I think people who I’ve known throughout my life have inspired aspects of some characters. My granddaughter thinks the barn owl in my books is me – he’s quite disagreeable at times, so I really hope that isn’t true! 

Q – What advice do you have for anyone wanting to be a writer?

A – Really just if you have an idea that you can build on, stick at it. Having a love for it is so important, and don’t be afraid to put in parts of yourself. My stroke kicked me into completing the process, as it was a real shock, and I didn’t want to have any regrets. So, I’d say start as soon as you can – don’t wait until it’s too late as you never know what’s around the corner.

Q – Lastly, where can people buy your books?

A – I’m in the process of having a website created, but for now you can visit ‘Jim Moore The Author’ on Facebook.

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Louise Collins

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October 2021
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