IN THE SHOES OF… Ian Eagleton

What's life like in someone else's shoes? This month Françoise Price invites Ian Eagleton to tell us about his day.


I’d love to tell you that I’m a morning person and that I get up when the sun rises and the birds are singing, to do some yoga or mindfulness.


But that would be a complete lie.


My poor husband gets up with our little boy. Luckily he’s a great sleeper and it’s not too early. Husband quickly brings me a strong, black coffee. I grunt a “thank you”, usually fall back to sleep for 10 minutes and then moan that my coffee’s cold!


I was diagnosed with very severe OCD when I was 17 years old and often find my mind starts racing around midnight. I usually spend an hour or so either dealing with intrusive thoughts or chatting to my book characters. I often imagine them in a room sitting around a table, and wonder what they might be saying to each other. A lot of writing actually involves thinking and wondering.

Cover of Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, written by Ian Eagleton and illustrated by James Mayhew
[Owlet Press, 2021]


My husband starts work at 9am, upstairs in the office, so I rush downstairs to take over childcare. Our boy has turned our world upside down, but we love him unconditionally. He’s full of mischief and fun and makes us laugh every day. If I’m not working, then we usually spend the day at the park, visiting Nanny and Grandad, with him causing havoc at our weekly swimming lessons, shopping, or at the dreaded soft play.


However, I’m going to talk you through what a day was like while I was writing my debut middle grade book Glitter Boy. It’s the story of James, an 11-year-old kid who experiences homophobic bullying. His school choir have been chosen to sing at his teacher’s wedding, but his dad won’t allow him to join in. Is it because Mr Hamilton is gay? At school, Paul is calling him *that word* and James begins to lose his spark and confidence. Can he find a way to stay fabulous?


We had just adopted our 15-month-old son when I signed a contract for Glitter Boy


Glitter Boy, by Ian Eagleton. 
[Scholastic, Feb 2023]


At the park with my little chap, he giggles when he sees a squirrel and screams, “CAT! CAT!”. I try to explain that it’s not a cat, but he’s having none of it.


We look at the ducks and feed them some peas. My editor, Linas Alsenas, has asked me to develop a new chapter for Glitter Boy – a lot of the action is taking place in James’s school and at his nan’s house and so Linas feels it needs some variation. Is there somewhere James can go that will take him away from his worries and anxiety surrounding the homophobic bullying he is experiencing?


I think about the healing properties of nature. While my little boy is rushing around the playground I get out my phone and quickly type some words into my notepad:








Oak tree



Lunchtime and little one has beans on toast and watches something dreadful on TV, like Mr Tumble, while I quickly do some social media things. I tweet cryptically about my upcoming book, and email my lovely agent, Neil Dunnicliffe, about the picture book submissions we’re preparing. However, sitting still and eating is pretty much impossible for a tiny human, so I feed him the last of his lunch and he wipes his bean-covered hands over my hoodie, before yawning and farting.



NAP TIME! I’ve been clinging on for this two-hour slot of freedom all morning! I check my notes: something about a squirrel and ducks? What?! OH YES! Nature! Healing! New chapter! Much of my inspiration is from conversations with my little boy and today I manage to get down the outline of a new chapter. I remember a song by Tori Amos called Flowers Burn To Gold. It’s about searching for a loved one all around you – scanning the skies, listening to whispers on the breeze, and the regeneration of nature.


Inspired by my morning in the park, the power of Tori Amos, and conversations with Linas, I start a new chapter where James and Joel venture into the woods.


The Woodcutter and the Snow Prince, by Ian Eagleton, illustrated by Davide Ortu 
[Owlet Press, 2022]


I wake our son up and he puts his teddy over his head and says, “Why, daddy? Why?” After 30 minutes of some cartoons or making a mess with Play Doh, we are ready to go again. By this stage I’m exhausted. Writing Glitter Boy has become all-consuming – I often spend large chunks of my writing time crying. It’s an emotional process for me – looking after a very young child and writing a book!


There’s a coffee shop in town which my little chap loves. They have a huge mirror on the ceiling which he points at and shouts, “ME! ME!!” while dancing.


Sipping a large hot chocolate, I’m thinking about the sounds James and Joel might hear in the woods for my new chapter. The question of what sound a dragonfly makes is still really bothering me. A zzzippppp? A buzzzz? A jangle? A flutter? No, maybe it’s…


Little chap has wandered off, so I chase him to another park in town – with swings, a castle, climbing frames and a zip wire. But when it’s time to head home he has an epic melt-down. For the next 45 minutes I’m coaxing and singing to him, eventually plonking him on my shoulders.


I’m still thinking about dragonfly sounds as I stumble home. Once back, I reach for the remote control. Obviously, we were NEVER going to allow OUR precious child to watch TV, but we soon relented…



As my husband comes down from work, angels start to sing and I’m sure he has a halo beaming over his head! He organises dinner for our son, then bath time and bed. I stare into space for a while, wondering what I’ve gotten myself into. Adopting and writing a book? Whose idea was this?!



Husband again makes dinner while I clean up. How do children make SO much mess? The brilliant husband has made fajitas and I wolf them down while we watch an episode of something on TV. We like crime thrillers and murder mysteries, but I’m still thinking about dragonflies.

Violet's Tempest, by Ian Eagleton, illustrated by Clara Anganuzzi 
[Lantana Publishing, 2021]


I get back to writing, rereading earlier words and realise that it’s the worst thing ever. I look through my poetry books and online for descriptions of nature and woods, and then edit and revise. I fire off an email to Linas – what sound does a dragonfly make? HELP! He makes some suggestions. As always, they’re perfect!


Over the course of many days and weeks, while juggling being a dad, working as a resource writer for Authorfy and The Literacy Shed, I manage to write one of my favourite parts of Glitter Boy:


“It’s quiet and still, and there is a blanket of rust-coloured leaves on the damp ground. Jewelled cobwebs shine with the morning dew. As we walk further into the woods it smells fragrant – somehow both fresh and ancient. We are surrounded by oranges, browns and bright, vivid reds…


The wood is lovely; dark and deep. It is a brambly wilderness, and as I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths I feel myself relaxing, slowing down.


I listen.


I hear the wings of a dragonfly frrripp overhead.


I pay attention to the stream as it chatters over the stones and gravel. I listen to the rustle of the leaves. To the chitter-chatter and singing of the birds. The scurrying of squirrels. The trees seem to whisper, the oak trees standing guard over us. I drink it all in and let it wash over me, almost like a song. A quiet, healing song of hope…”



I collapse into bed. No day ever looks the same. Sometimes I don’t have time for writing, sometimes I do my other jobs, or I’m running virtual workshops and author visits for teachers and schools relating to my picture book Nen and the Lonely Fisherman, illustrated by James Mayhew.


I hold onto the notion that you’re a writer if you write. It doesn’t matter if it’s your full-time job, or if you do it at a fancy desk or in a notepad while lounging on a chaise longue. At the moment, I’m writing in between changing nappies, visits to the park, nap time, and other responsibilities.


Am I tired and emotional? Yes.


Do I feel like I’m a terrible dad and a shoddy writer who can’t commit to a more robust timetable? Yes.


Would I change any of it? No.


Because you’re a writer if you write. Remember that.


I fall asleep thinking about James and Joel, and the research that I need to do into LGBTQ+ pride and history for some other chapters of Glitter Boy.


I take a moment to smile to myself. I’M WRITING A BOOK!! I’ve kept a tiny human alive today and I’m writing a book which might just change things in the future for that tiny human.


My son.


The reason I write.

*Header image: Alex Crump;
All other images courtesy of Ian Eagleton.


Ian Eagleton is an award-winning author who writes LGBTQ+ inclusive books. His books include Nen and the Lonely Fisherman (illustrated by James Mayhew) and The Woodcutter and the Snow Prince (illustrated by Davide Ortu). His debut middle grade book Glitter Boy has been called a “poignant, defiantly fabulous story” by The Guardian. Ian is the director of The Reading Realm. He is also a content creator and resource writer for various educational organisations, including The Literacy Shed and Authorfy. Follow him on Twitter at @MrEagletonIan


Alex Crump is an illustrator based in Wiltshire, with past careers as both a teacher and a zookeeper, as well as other current side-lines of storyteller and charity/museum educator.
Instagram: @alexcrumpillustration


Françoise Price is deputy editor of Words & Pictures magazine. Contact

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