'Sam Wilding is an exciting new voice to the world of young adult writing. He brings his story to life with such wonderful details that the characters seem to jump out of the pages. Too soon I found myself at the end of the book wanting more. I look forward to his next tale.' So wrote reviewer Stephani Hecht on reading Sam’s first novel – The Magic Scales.
Described as a ‘breath of fresh air for fantasy’, author Sam Wilding was born Paul Murdoch in Braeholm, Helensburgh, on the 9th of May 1961.
Sam Wilding grew up in the Vale of Leven, where he attended Levenvale Primary between 1965 and 1967; Christie Park Primary between 1967 and 1972; and the Vale of Leven Academy between 1973 and 1979. Throughout his childhood, Sam spent many weekends in Helensburgh with his parents walking the pier and braving the outdoor pool. He then went on to study Zoology at Glasgow University between 1979 and 1983, working his way through his university years by playing in various rock bands in the UK, America and Holland.
He began writing songs in the late 70s, poetry in the early 90s and eventually his first novel - 'The Magic Scales' in 2005, part one of the Denthan Trilogy. A fantasy tale featuring an asthmatic boy, James Peck, as its’ hero, a wizard trapped in the body of a goldfish, and a manic mother with all the social skills of a Dalek, the book is a rollercoaster-ride adventure packed full of strange creatures, epic battles, magic and fun.
Sam stated: "My son, Ryan, was my main inspiration at the time. His remit was simple; he wanted a fast-paced story with lots of monsters; new ones, and plenty of big battle scenes. I also thought it would be interesting to add a few other issues into the mix, such as dealing with asthma and coping with a crazy family. When I come to think about it, another good reason for putting pen to paper was that I kept forgetting where I'd finished off my goodnight stories. My kids were complaining. So I got to work and ended up with - The Magic Scales."
Sam has gone on to write book 2 in the series - The Second Gateway and book 3 - Return to Denthan (which was released on the 4th May 2010 appropriately World Asthma Day) .
Gordon Brown, National Director with the charity Asthma UK Scotland publicly recognised Sam's efforts when he stated: "I would like to publically thank Sam for all his work and enthusiasm. One of the biggest issues people with asthma face is a lack of awarness about what having the condition actually means, how serious it can be but also with the right management most people with asthma can lead healthy and active lives. Sam's work has helped these messages become more accessible - and in an engaging way."
Likewise Sam's work was the subject of a motion in the Scottish Parliament which stated: 'The Scottish Parliament notes Scottish author - Sam Wilding's excellent work with children and young people across Scotland in delivering creative writing workshops and in supporting Asthma UK Scotland’s Alert to Asthma scheme, which helps schools ensure pupils with asthma live a healthy and active life.' THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT(S3M-6414)'
31st October 2012 sees the first release via Strident Publishing of Sam's 2010 Eco-Thriller - Windscape. Windscape explores the passions on both sides of the wind farm debate. Young Jenny MacLeod's father is about to lose the family farm because of mounting debts. The only way for her and her father to keep their beautiful Hushwish Bay island home is to sign up to a wind turbine project. When protestors invade their beach and her father has a heart attack, the well-to-do Murdochs take Jenny under their wing. However, she soon finds out that Mr Murdoch has been hiding letters from her father, letters that could have enabled him to save their home without the need to build the wind farm. Jenny is determined to put things right. But she has been discovered, and now she too faces danger. Fleeing the island, she and her unlikely friend Pavel are faced with trying to save everything they love. And for Jenny it’s not just her family’s home that is at stake...but also her father’s life.
But it is not just strong, young human heroes and heroines that Sam writes about. With his regular illustrator, Scott Wallace, Sam has authored a series of books, with animal and numeracy themes, aimed at 3 - 7 year olds - the Tiffy and Toffy picture books. With such entertaining titles as 'The squashed worm and bramble pie', 'And the Tower of Cheese' and the 'Rat who couldn't sleep' these books are set to enchant and entertain children for generations to come.
Sam has recently returned to his musical roots and has written the music to accompany the Fitstars initiative. Designed for the Schools, Nurseries and the Sports / Leisure Industry, and aimed at under 8s, Fitstars is a complete package to teach physical fitness to children and is supported by the Paul Lawrie foundation.
Sam continues to perform children's workshops and presentations in schools, libraries and at book festivals in the UK and Europe. Sam continues to work closely with the charity Asthma UK to raise awareness of the condition through his work with children.
Main image from Asthma UK Magazine photo © Chris Watt