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The Tale of The Foolish Hedgehog 🔗

book cover of The Foolish Hedgehog

[Originally published on Goodreads 2016-02-10, two days before a giveaway for five signed copies of the illustrated children’s book The Foolish Hedgehog.] This is the story of how I came to write The Foolish Hedgehog given that my primary emphasis has been on writing text books and adult crime/thriller/speculative fiction rather than children’s books.

I have always loved reading and writing and as a child my favourite genre was adventure stories. In fact, that’s still true today. However, I also loved mathematics and hated pulling books apart in English Literature, so when it came to choosing my path through higher education, I opted for the maths route and kept writing as a hobby.

Life often doesn’t pan out the way you imagine and at some point I found that I had switched tracks from being a mathematician to being a computer programmer with an interest in typesetting, specifically TeX. As a result of my work in that area, I was interviewed by the TeX User Group (TUG) for their interview corner. Dave Walden, the interviewer, put the idea of self-publishing into my head. Although I was confident about my typesetting abilities, I wasn’t so confident about my writing skills.

A friend of mine, who’s also a writer, suggested I try a writing course. She had already been on the diploma creative writing course at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and thoroughly recommended it. At first I thought it would be too inconvenient. I had given up full-time work to care for my son and we live out in a village with infrequent bus services, but I discovered there was an online writing course taught by Caroline Gilfillan at UEA, which overcame these obstacles. It was only a three-month course for beginners, but I thoroughly recommend it for enthusiastic writers with a busy lifestyle. (This particular course has stopped, but the Writers’ Centre, Norwich now has some writing courses.)

The course included a section on Vladimir Propp who studied folklore. The Wikipedia article on Propp gives a lot more detail, but he essentially broke fairy tales up into sections and listed a sequence of functions (tropes) that fairy tales employ in their narrative. One of our assignments was to write a story that followed this scheme. After toying with the usual princes, princesses, young apprentice/farmer-turned-heroes, I saw some roadkill and “The Foolish Hedgehog” came into being.

The principle functions this story follows are: interdiction (warning not to go somewhere), violation of interdiction (disobeying the warning), trickery (the villain attempts to deceive the protagonist), guidance (protagonist is led to a vital location), liquidation (issue resolved) and return (protagonist returns home).

After I had set up my imprint to publish my text books, I decided that I may as well publish the story (mostly for the fun of it and to try out the different style of typesetting required for illustrated children’s books). The story was greatly enhanced with the inclusion of the illustrations provided by my friend and Norfolk artist Magdalene Pritchett. (If you go to any of the South Norfolk art exhibitions, such as in Poringland, Kirstead or Hempnell, you will likely see her paintings. She’s also exhibited paintings at Eye in Suffolk.)

The story is about a little hedgehog who lives with his grandmother. He promises that he won’t go near the wasteland (the road) where the dragons (vehicles) live, but one day he’s tempted onto the road by a hungry crow. It can be used to introduce children to the concept of road safety and stranger-danger. Here’s an extract from the start of the story:

There once was a little hedgehog who lived with his grandmother.

Every evening when the little hedgehog went out to play, his grandmother would always say:

“Don’t ever go onto the hard wasteland. There are dragons there. Great giant creatures, with eyes shining brighter than the moon. Their roar is deafening, and their breath is poisonous. They have no claws, but their round feet will trample you.”

Every evening the hedgehog promised his grandmother he wouldn’t go near the wasteland.

But one day, as he played with some fallen leaves, he heard the roaring of the dragons. He wanted to see if they really were as big as his grandmother said.

“I’ll just have a peek, that’s all,” he thought. “I won’t step on the wasteland.”

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image of dickimaw parrot with cookies in cloudsOnce upon a time, a little parrot decided to migrate across the vast ocean to the cloud lands, with nothing more than a handful of cookies. The Dickimaw Books site has migrated to a new web hosting provider and this is the story of its journey.
Nicola Talbot 2019-09-15 📂 Site 🔖 Migration

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image of dickimaw parrot with cookies in cloudsOnce upon a time, a little parrot decided to migrate across the vast ocean to the cloud lands, with nothing more than a handful of cookies. The Dickimaw Books site has migrated to a new web hosting provider and this is the story of its journey.
Nicola Talbot 2019-09-15 📂 Site 🔖 Migration

Recent Posts

End of Year Ebook Sale
Book coversThe DRM-free ebook retailer SmashWords has their end of year sale from 15th December 2023 to 1st January 2024. My crime novel “The Private Enemy” and children’s illustrated story “The Foolish Hedgehog” both have a 50% discount and my crime fiction short story “I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing” and cybercrime fiction short story “Unsocial Media” both have a 100% discount (i.e. free!) for the duration of the sale. Did you know that you can gift ebooks on SmashWords?
Ebook Sale July 2023
Book coversThe DRM-free ebook retailer SmashWords has a sale from 1st – 31st July 2023. My crime novel “The Private Enemy” and children’s illustrated story “The Foolish Hedgehog” both have a 50% discount and my crime fiction short story “I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing” and cybercrime fiction short story “Unsocial Media” both have a 100% discount (i.e. free!) for the duration of the sale. Did you know that you can gift ebooks on SmashWords?
Bug Bounty Hunters
Image of magnifying glass over a green bug.I was recently informed that dickimaw-books.com had a medium severity reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in the version of cPanel this website was using at the time. I solved the problem by moving to a new web-hosting provider that didn’t have the issue. The security researcher used a non-invasive probe. No data was compromised.
Nicola Talbot 2023-05-22 (updated 2023-06-17) 📂 Security Site 🔖 Migration News Online Store
Unsocial Media: a cybercrime short story
Unsocial Media book cover.Greg has unwisely accepted a friend request from “Natalie”, a stranger who starts to stalk him after failing to hook him in a scam but, unknown to either of them, Greg’s wife (the narrator) is quietly investigating Natalie, following the trail from online into the real world.
Hello E-Hedgehog
The Foolish Hedgehog Cover Image.The Foolish Hedgehog is back in print as an ebook. If you’re looking for a short illustrated story for young children to keep them entertained over the holiday, have a read of the preview on SmashWords and buy it while it’s half-price!
Ongoing Email Issues on Website
For some weeks now, the forms on this site, such as the contact page, have been unable to send an email. It seems to be caused by an SSL issue outside of my control. All support channels to the web hosting company used by this site are down, which means I can’t even report the issue, let alone get it fixed.
Nicola Talbot 2022-08-28 (updated 2022-10-08) 📂 Site 🔖 News
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Illustrated fiction for young children: The Foolish Hedgehog and Quack, Quack, Quack. Give My Hat Back!
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The crime fiction category covers the crime novels The Private Enemy and The Fourth Protectorate and also the crime short stories I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing and I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing.
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This category is about the county of Norfolk in East Anglia (the eastern bulgy bit of England). It’s where The Private Enemy is set and is also where the author lives.
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The speculative fiction category includes the novel The Private Enemy (set in the future), the alternative history novel The Fourth Protectorate, and the fantasy novel Muirgealia.

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Sub-genre of speculative fiction, alternative history is “what if?” fiction.
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A part of the creative writing process, conservation of detail essentially means that only significant information should be added to a work of fiction.
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I’ve Heard the Mermaid Sing
A crime fiction short story (available as an ebook) set in the late 1920s on the RMS Aquitania. See the story’s main page for further details.
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The Foolish Hedgehog
Information about the illustrated children’s book. See the book’s main page for further details.
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Alternative history novel set in 1980s/90s London. See the book’s main page for further details.
The Private Enemy
A crime/speculative fiction novel set in a future Norfolk run by gangsters. See the book’s main page for further details.
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A cybercrime fiction short story (available as an ebook). See the story’s main page for further details.
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