Born in South Wales many years ago. Banker, teacher, sports shop salesman, college lecturer, photographic studio owner, benefits officer, commercial radio broadcaster, tribunals writer and presenter, auditor, hotel entertainer, rep actor, DJ, blogger, and most lately, author of a play and a children's book.
All challenges in their own way. Don't you just love that word, "challenges"! Most of them have been fun and very enjoyable. Writing just about tops them all.
Malcolm John Harris
A peek behind the scenes
Shubby's story breaks down into enjoyable chapters which means you can share a reading every night with your little ones revealing the climax on the final night perhaps over 5 or so evenings. Because the book is written using simplified language it is suitable for youngsters who are learning to read for themselves - nothing too difficult! The pictures are colourful and descriptive and can be used to develop discussion themes or simply used to engage and deepen understanding.
The project started slowly and without an illustrator! Just a vague idea based upon my daughter Rachael's friendship with her own Mammacs. For years the ideas wandered through my mind before a party with my wife's work colleagues led to a meeting with Martin Beal. From my sketchy storyline Martin quickly drew the first version of Shubby there and then. Further discussions over a coffee in the local winter gardens firmed up our combined vision of the animal friends. This is how Shubby was imagined in the early days.
Early pictures underwent changes
And, what was more, the Mammacs knew exactly what to do to claim the crown and with it the glory.
Percy Vere’s motto was ‘Never give up’ and so his first thought was to hop steadily from branch to branch, sideways and then upwards, no matter how hard it became, until he reached the summit.
Lofty Gerry Longneck’s plan was much simpler. Although he was still young and nowhere near the height of a double-decker bus yet, he was sure that with one huge effort he could reach the top branch with his outstretched tongue and shake the crown loose.
Munty was fully prepared to launch his own attack, swinging up and over the treetops to snatch the crown as he swept by, landing gently on the other side of the pond.
The text began as a freehand writing of the everything I wanted to include. It was long, far too long for a picture book. Maybe I was intending to write a novel. I turned to my daughter now 25 years older and wiser and teaching at a local primary school.
She didn't hold back with her criticism but at the same time she was careful not to discourage me, emphasising the need to keep language simple and clear, not to have my own agenda and to avoid adult jokes!
We also started to edit and cut from 1500 words down to around 500. Not easy, because no writer likes to leave out what they imagined to be really important elements of a story.
First draft, all the Mammacs (left) told us about their own particular ambitions at the outset, then proceeded to carry them out one by one. Why repeat themselves? Several edits later and Percy Vere is off without further ado (see right).
Bold young Percy Vere went first with his plan to bobby up the tree until he reached the very top.
And so ‘Never-give–up’ Percy set off on his scary journey, hopping sideways from sturdy branch to branch, then up and up along the thinner twigs.
Meanwhile Martin had been working on the pictures. The vital decision had to be how many words to include on the page and then to design the illustration to allow that text to be added in an appropriate area of the picture. The animals had also gone through a transformation, particularly Percy, whose beak had morphed.
A Mere Mortal
Andrea Victoria Balgos-Magalona rated a book: It was amazing!
5.00 avg rating — 1 rating published.
5***** Shubby, a young girl, and her three magical animal friends, written by new author Mal Harris and beautifully illustrated by Martin Beal.
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Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 February 2020
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
When I'm not reading I'm daydreaming about my life so far (Don't we all...*nervous laugh *). This book has a similar feel about it.
This book has that exact combination, both entertaining and at the same time making one reflect on the life we've had so far.
I'm actually lapping up this book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 January 2020
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Not quite finished yet but well over halfway through - a very good read full of so many stories, memoirs and details of a very adventurous life. Highly recommended, very easy reading.
it's being so cheerful!
Muriel is clearly unwell, but to what extent is her ill-health real and how much is it imagined? Jack feels that she may be seriously ill. So does Muriel. But what is Jack prepared to do? Can he manage the situation?
For everyone else, it has become obvious that Muriel is obsessed with illness and disaster. In short she is a hypochondriac. And yet, like the boy who cried wolf, there comes a moment when Muriel needs those around her to believe in her. How will Jack react? Will the audience find itself taking sides?
As yet unpublished: for details please contact via Facebook page
A Mere Mortal has its official publication date! 1st July 2019. My new book is available from Amazon UK at £5.99 initially in paperback format but recently in Kindle ebook format too.
So, where should I begin? I know, traditionally it has to be at the beginning. But it’s not quite that simple. The beginning of what? My life? Possibly, but then this isn’t your run-of-the-mill straightforward autobiography, you know; parents, born, school, university high jinks, exciting career, more and more success, glory, awards, retirement, an appropriate life for an autobiography like those I have already enjoyed reading.
Me? My perception is that I am ‘average’. Always have been. Maybe, if one is being generous, just a shade above average. At most things. Not everything. But most things. If I am in a group of 10, I would normally finish 3rd or 4th but rarely last, occasionally first. I can turn my hand to quite a few different tasks and do them reasonably well without excelling. Yet, having said that, I still believe myself to be merely average. Fifth or sixth out of ten? That is how I see myself, but am I right? Am I doing myself a disservice?..................
As I wrote, it dawned on me gradually, that at particular moments in my life, I had decent enough opportunities to make something of myself, in spite of my apparent limitations.
Once, while I was preparing content for a website, I listed out the jobs or serious hobbies I had been involved in over the years, and it went something like: teacher, lecturer, auditor, bank employee, radio presenter, insurance clerk, stock-broking office worker, hotel entertainer and host, singer, supermarket worker, writer, deejay, actor, benefit office clerk, tribunal presenter, photographer and sports shop salesman. Not an inconsiderable number or range of activities. Not so bad for your average man!.........
So, Mal, what happened and what could have happened? All those what-ifs. I will attempt to set it all out before you. Make up your own mind.
The people I have encountered, the Lord Coes, the England rugby youth ‘probables’ I went to school with, the international footballers I knew and met, the celebrity singers and actors I have interviewed, the famous athletes and top sportsmen I have been involved with, my close encounters with careers in the media and the theatre, my early promise and my later uncertainties.
Remember, as we start this journey together, that most of my trickiest decisions have been informed by my belief that I am just average.
After all, I am a mere mortal.