So the story goes…
While dreaming up Book 3, the writer wanted to introduce a new character that wasn’t “made up” from imagination like the modern tooth fairy or the marching cards in previous books. The writer wanted a new character that children can relate to, something real yet not commonly portrayed in children books.
And that’s when the idea of introducing a wind character was raised to the writer.
Now, if this post ended here by saying the rest is history, that would make a truly unfulfilling story (and a waste of time). Definitely not something Grady-Bearable, given how this writer loves to weave in multiple ideas into a seemingly simple book.
This writer wanted to do justice to the wind character. This writer’s own experience of the wind while growing up was one of wonder and amazement; the gusts of wind for kite flying to the spurts of blown air down the music recorder to create notes (or noise) of all kinds to the sharp inhale of air in-between swimming strokes, the writer was reminded of the omnipresence nature of wind.
But how to express all these ideas in a children’s book? The writer didn’t want to end up with some airy-fairy character (after all, there already is a modern tooth fairy for that!). So the writer created a character who was wise and mysterious, and as a reminder to the complexity of ideas that were behind the wind character, the writer named it a rather challenging to see, pronounce and spell name: Zephyr. (The letter combinations of ph and yr does not happen often in the English language, and this can set-off conversations around the rules of spelling and enounciation for older children, which the writer shall spare the reader at this point.)
Then came the artwork that became the icing on the cake for this windy story…
When Mike Lowe, the artist, read about the wind character, Mike researched into wind gods, and drew inspiration from the Chinese wind god, Feng Bo, complete with wild hair, a beard and small antlers… when the writer first saw Zephyr in a sketch, the writer knew that Zephyr was going to be a repeat feature in Grady Bear.