Former teacher’s first novel

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A BROUGHTY Ferry man who was formerly principal teacher of chemistry at Arbroath High School has published his first novel aimed at youngsters.

Dr Eric J. Yeaman’s book is ‘Trouble on Wotzit 4’ and he intends to follow it with others.

A native of Broughty Ferry, he attended Grove Academy then the University of St Andrews where he obtained a First Class Honours Degree in Chemistry. After teacher training, he taught in Grove Academy for three years before completing a Ph D in Chemical Education at University of Dundee. He then had six years at Perth High School, before moving to Arbroath High School as principal teacher of chemistry.

Dr Yeaman explained: “I would like to make the romantic claim that I took early retirement to devote myself to writing, but the truth is more mundane. By 1997, after 20 years in the job, I was no longer a ‘teacher’: I was ‘middle management’. I still enjoyed working with (most of) the pupils, but the red tape irritated me. So, when the chance came to escape, I took it.”

He continued: “I had always enjoyed writing, but class notes, instructions for experiments, exam papers, and endless reports gave me little time for fiction. So, when I retired, I decided to start a new career as a writer. I joined Dundee College Writers’ Circle (now Tay Writers) and Angus Writers’ Circle. Having heard my work, members said, “You should write for children.”

“I had always enjoyed communicating with young people. At the school, I ran the Chess Club, the Table Tennis Club, and hillwalking groups. I had kept my connections in Broughty Ferry where I was a Sunday School teacher, and ran the badminton and hillwalking clubs at the East Church (now the New Kirk).

“I tried writing for children, aged eight or nine to 13 years and was soon hooked. Most of my stories are adventures featuring Tony and Bea, young troubleshooters of the Galactic Federation. I create a problem on a planet, with a baddie, and maybe some dangerous animals. Then I throw Bea and Tony into it, and leave them to sort it out. It’s much more fun than reading.

“Without really trying, I’ve now written 30 full-length children’s stories, and countless shorter ones. And I’m still hooked.”

Dr Yeaman went on: “I kept writing because I enjoyed it, but of course I’d thought of being published. I had articles and short stories accepted, but the longer ones met a uniform lack of interest. My point of view was opposite to that of the publishers. I reckoned I was doing them a favour by offering them the chance of publishing my stories: they acted as if they were doing me a favour by reading them.

“In the summer of 2007, one of my stories won a national prize. I sent the synopsis and the first three chapters to a well-known publisher, who asked to see the complete story. In great excitement, I sent it off. Silence followed.

“My excitement was fading by May, 2008, when I rang the publisher. I was given stock excuse number 31: “Oh, yes. We got your story. The editor who’s dealing with it is on holiday this week. He’ll contact you when he returns.” I’m still waiting.

“Early this year, I considered the future. I believed youngsters would enjoy my stories. Young friends had read them enthusiastically. I decided: if I had faith in the stories, I had to give them a chance. I’ve self-published one – Trouble on Wotzit 4.”

Dr Yeaman said: “Andrew Morgan, of Idesign WebSites in Arbroath, has prepared a site, www.tonyandbea.co.uk, where young readers can find out more about Tony and Bea and their friends.

“Broughty Ferry New Kirk is currently raising money for the St Aidan’s Project to convert the former St Aidan’s building into a church centre. All money raised from the local sales will go to that fund.”