Heather’s way with words awakens the wildlife

January 11, 2014



ROAD TRIP: Major Payne and Woofbot get out and about in the countryside.


Panic (1)

SAY CHEESE:  Panic the mouse, who scurries about but out of the clutches of Major Payne.




Napoleon (1)

LOTS OF TALONS: Napoleon, a cockerel with attitude – not to be messed with.



EASY LIFE: Fireside the cat, who likes nothing more than a warm fire to sleep next to.


Heather Chamberlain

WELL READ: Children’s writer Heather Chamberlain at work at her Dorset home.


A DORSET-born children’s author has used her life’s experience in the county to bring the characters in her new book to life.

Heather Chamberlain graduated as a teacher from St Luke’s College in Exeter in 1980 and over the course of her 22-year career in the profession, developed her skill in story-telling and writing.

Major Payne in Happy Bottom tells the tale of a retired major whose attempts to adapt to the country ways of living brings a new sense of adventure for him in his twilight years. Fowl Deeds and Feathers is the first instalment of a four-part series.

The title takes its name from a local hamlet and the mention of a Major Payne on a radio programme.

With his handlebar moustache flowing wildly, Major Payne sets out in his vehicle with his faithful companion and one-eyed pooch, Woofbot and seeks to make an impression in the village of Dimple.

There are clues in the book as to the Dorset influences of the characters and place names with references to Purbeck stone and the River Piddle and Happy Bottom, of course.

Joining him on his adventures on his country estate are Napoleon the cockerel, Henrietta the hen, the mice Panic and Scurry and Fireside the cat.

With the constant shadow of flooding and bad weather affecting us in Dorset and the drip, drip of bad news on the world stage, reading Major Payne in Happy Bottom is a good leveler and is sure to be well received by those outside its target audience (six to nine-year-olds), and may well prove to be a fun and useful resource for those wanting to learn English as a second language.

Heather chose Robin Edmunds to draw the characters and bring them to life and for those young people who want to write or draw, there is a gallery on the website where they can display their own drawings or illustrated rhymes.

Plans are afoot to bring some of the characters to life in the form of puppets. Woofbot is already under construction and it is hoped that Fireside and the mice will follow later in the year.

A lot of effort has been taken to develop the different storylines involving the Major’s mishaps and the humour always shines through each one.

Aspects of stories she once wrote during that time about Brigadier Baz and Frumpton Farm are touched upon in Major Payne in Happy Bottom.

Heather said: “When I was a teacher, I used to read and tell stories. I love rhyme. It was always fun to create rhymes when I was at senior school. I used to write during English lessons whilst my teacher sat, reading a newspaper  or doing a crossword.

“When I was teaching  I used to write humorous rhymes, more often about teaching, with a colleague, Mr Betteridge.”

“I would love nothing more than to inspire both adults and children to embrace the art of rhyme and illustration.  A rhyme can tell a story in a few lines. They can be serious, funny or complete nonsense.”

In her past career as a teacher, Heather used to write and produce school musicals and considers herself lucky to have received help from singer and songwriter Chris de Burgh. He kindly granted the school free use of his songs and would make recommendations for her shows.

Heather would love to bring Happy Bottom’s comic verse and illustration to the classroom. Schools interested in an author visit can discover more about Happy Bottom’s author and characters on her website. Check on the blue link above. To obtain more information or book a visit call 01929 459501 or email – happybottombooks@btinternet.com

The above contact details can also be used by libraries, groups or organisations that are interested in hosting an author visit.

  • FOWL Deeds and Feathers, the first in the four-part series of Major  Payne in Happy Bottom is available on Amazon at the price of £6.99 and  this price has been discounted to offset postage costs.







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