Mother and son work together to publish a book! Introducing ‘Tiggs and the Midnight Choir’

Brave boy challenges baldness and lockdown by illustrating a book

James, age 12, suffering with alopecia, uses lockdown to finish over 140 drawings to illustrate a book – a contemporary ghost story based on his own life.

If you lost your hair, would you want to bury your head? James, age 12, could have done this during lockdown, when he lost all of his hair to alopecia. But instead, he used his time to finish illustrating a book – over 140 quirky drawings that he started when he was 9 years old.

The story really began when James used his beautiful singing voice to win an audition to become a Chorister at Exeter Cathedral. But the dusky smells, haunting sounds and chill air of the ancient Cathedral, which are now part of his everyday life, gave rise to a sense of curiosity and adventure in both James and his mum. Using real life as a backdrop, they decided to add a blend of imagination and history to create this exciting, contemporary ghost story.

Over the following years, James and his mum, Julie, both wrote and illustrated the book, ‘Tiggs and the Midnight Choir’, a middle grade children’s fiction book. This comedy suspense features James, our unlikely hero, who is poor, with nothing except a good heart, bags of enthusiasm and a singing voice that earns him a place as a Cathedral Chorister. James loves his new boarding school life but, while exploring a secret passage leading to the Cathedral, he stumbles upon a ghostly Midnight Choir, unearths a sinister plot to threaten their concerts and befriends the Guardian of the Cathedral, a magnificent but mischievous Griffin called Tiggs. Together, they must resolve a mystery that could damage not only the Midnight Choir but the Cathedral itself.

James says: ‘It’s not just the ghosts and secret passages that I like about the book. It’s also about friendship and getting over fears. When I lost my hair, it was scary going back to school and singing at the Cathedral again, knowing that I’d be the only bald Chorister! It’s also cold with no hair! But my school and choir friends were fantastic and really cheered me on. It’s like that in the book – James in the book feels different but he has great friends who help him through, like they did for me in real life.’

James’s mum adds: ‘While James was recovering from some serious illnesses, I wanted him to have a project – something to take his mind off his worries, as a therapy, as a statement of his life story, as an achievement – and as time out from computer games! By illustrating the book, he didn’t just battle against adversity, our boy – he laughed in the face of it. We’re so proud of him!’

This heart-warming children’s story also uses humour and fantasy to sensitively embrace real life issues, such as life-ending and poverty in a privileged world, while the backdrop of Exeter Cathedral provides a platform on which to promote respect for other cultures, world religions and differing beliefs of an after-life. James and Julie hope that the story will inspire other children to overcome hardship, while funds raised from the sale of the book will support his school and the Cathedral, enabling them to offer to other children the exciting life that they have given to James.

Please contact us for more information: Julie Claire-Carney and James Mason-Carney Email: julieclaire.email@gmail.com Website: www.TiggsTheGuardian.com

Telephone: 07534 410196 Address: Flat 14 Knowle Grange, Sidmouth, EX10 8HN


A selection of James’s drawings: 


7 December 2020
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