Kamilla Woodburn, a professional actress, children’s author and drama teacher has written The Adventures of Minwood Lane, a lively and engaging children’s picture book that sheds light on seniors experiencing memory loss and dementia.
The main protagonist is Edna Allinson, an elderly woman experiencing memory loss who lives in apartment No. 22.
Mrs Allinson is the first story being released from The Adventures on Minwood Lane ‘The Residents’ series. It explores the memory loss of Allinson in a light-hearted manner that educates young minds about dementia and memory loss in old age.
“We are told we need to protect the health of our older generation, but we also need to protect them from loneliness, protect their history and protect the future we share together,” said Woodburn.
How did you conceive the idea for Minwood Lane?
When writing the book, I initially approached it as a monologue – coming from a performance background I’m used to scripts so reading and writing in the first person comes natural to me. As mentioned previously, I originally wrote the books as though they were short monologues to be used for live action or animation but then it occurred to me, with the pandemic and lockdowns, books would be more engaging for children and would hopefully encourage families to read together instead of promoting more screen time.
The Adventures on Minwood Lane book series uses rhyme and prose to embed and increase children’s appreciation and recognition of diversity in their communities. Our multicultural stories also support objectives set within the national curriculum as they are great for learning and speaking aloud as well as analysing text,” said Woodburn.
“Mrs. Allinson from No. 22 might appreciate a card or little note through her door, a smile in the street and a ‘Hello, how are you?”
Why did you choose the topic of dementia to write about?
Dementia often takes a back seat when educating children, it’s overlooked as nanny forgets but doesn’t really go any further than that. I wanted to encourage conversation and give readers something to have on their bookshelves should they need to address it and for children to understand it.
Yes, it is sad, but it will be okay, and it can be a little funny at times, but we must care and show understanding. The pandemic and multiple lockdowns have left our older generation lonely and this is a reminder to be kind and remember Mrs. Allinson from No. 22 might appreciate a card or little note through her door, a smile in the street and a ‘Hello, how are you?’”
Did you have a support network as you pursued this project?
My main support network consists of my parents, my children aged 3 and 10 years old and my partner. (My partner and I) have been together for 16 years, but our wedding was put on hold in 2020 due to COVID-19 like so many others in the same situation. So, this (book) was a great opportunity to find something else to focus on and plan towards.
I discussed my ideas with them and tried and tested the story lines on the children. Once I was happy with the structure and concept, I sent the drafts to a few friends for their feedback – I think as a parent it’s easy to focus on the needs of your children and think that’s going to be enough and so it was great to get feedback from my other mom’s friends from other cultural backgrounds to see if it would be suited to their families also. I also sent a draft to a friend that is an adult social worker with experience of dementia, a primary head teacher and a secondary teacher.
Why did you opt to pursue self-publishing rather than seek out a publisher?
I knew I wanted to get the book out as soon as possible so that I could start to introduce the other characters, and so finding a literary agent and publisher would be time consuming. The challenge and learning process involved in self-publishing wasn’t at all daunting to me, I knew it would just take commitment and so set about researching to make sure everything would be above board, legal and correct. I took it one step further by starting my own publishing company (Minwood Lane Ltd.) as it would enable me to publish the series of books under one umbrella
and maybe even one day give me the opportunity to publish books for others. I am a big believer in empowering young people and helping them achieve their dreams and so I hope that this would be of benefit to future generations.
How did you find your illustrator?
I had looked at websites and platforms that illustrators sign up to advertise their services however, that didn’t feel organic enough for me and so I asked a few friends if they knew of any and they sent me the Instagram pages of those they knew of, one in particular stood out as I liked her style and the vibrant feel-good feeling her work gave me. I contacted her (illustrator Emily Redfearn) and after speaking on the phone we clicked really well – she understood my ideas, made sense of my creative confusion and was able to get my vision on paper in illustrative form.
“There is no community without a relationship between the young and old.”
Will the book be turned into a series?
Yes, there are two sets: The Residents where we are introduced to characters from the Lane, find out about who they are, what number they live at and with whom. The Adventures is where we see more interactions between the characters and get a feel for how the community connects with each other.
Do you hope the book creates better understanding between children and adults?
There is no community without a relationship between the young and old. Sharing stories, learning from each other and laughing together. Now, more than ever, let’s bridge the gaps, become informed and create memories.
Buy the book here