Favourite Joe gets a taste of the Big Apple

Wharfedale Observer: Peter J Murray, author of the Mokee Joe series of books, Peter J Murray, author of the Mokee Joe series of books,

Children’s thriller writer Peter J Murray could be about to find out what it’s like to get the J K Rowling treatment.

The author of the Harry Potter books went from being virtually unknown and hard up, to selling millions of books worldwide and having an estimated personal fortune in excess of £150m.

Peter, who lives in Steeton, calculates that his popular Mokee Joe trilogy and Billy Hardacre trilogy have sold more than 50,000 copies to date.

But after a recent business trip to New York City, the former teacher signed up with American global branding company Triumph Holdings.

Peter’s Mokee Joe and Billy Hardacre books focus on battles between good and evil, with children representing the forces of good, and twisted adults and other-worldly phenomena the forces of evil.

“Triumph Holdings are marketing and branding our property throughout New York and subsequently across America and the rest of the world.

“Mokee Joe will be launched at the Los Angeles book festival in April next year. The launch will link in with my return visit to the United States to perform Mokee Joe presentations to schools and libraries,” Peter said.

The man helping to publicise Peter and his books is Trevor Wilson, a former deputy headteacher at Ilkley’s Westville House School. Together they have been promoting the books in schools in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Thailand and Scotland, and have invitations to Singapore, China, Canada and Russia.

Peter’s wife Kath always travels with him. In between promotional work they rest at five-star resorts and look back in wonder at what’s happened to their self-publishing concern since 2004.

You could be forgiven for thinking they must be rolling in oodles of money right now, but Peter is more circumspect about the financial rewards.

“We have just turned a corner and things are looking good. Patrice Samara, the driving force behind the US initiative, is totally confident that Mokee Joe will set New York on fire and become a big seller in the States with subsequent spin-offs of film, TV, dvd and merchandising.

“Trevor and I have returned somewhat amazed by the plans and optimism of our new friends in the States. If anyone can ‘do it’ for us, they can,” he added.

If and when Mokee Joe becomes as well known as Harry Potter the time will be right for a movie. Peter’s new friends in the States estimate that that will take about two years.

In the meantime, a more conventional mode of publishing will have to be accepted if Peter Murray’s creations are to conquer America.

“We may have to strike a deal with a mainstream publisher in the States. It is the only way that successful distribution can be achieved on the scale we hope sales will reach.

“If we do make mega bucks then we will just do what any reasonable parent would do – give it to our sons (Peter and Kath have two sons, aged 28 and 31).

“My youngest boy Simon is following in his old man’s footsteps. He writes the Icky Doo Dah books for younger children and visits schools all over the UK.

“But the main thing is the children. We are so privileged to live and work among them and experience their enthusiasm on such a big scale – that is the real driving force behind what we do.” Peter is currently working on a new trilogy with a view to having the first book out in late 2009.

He said: “The new trilogy will have an international flavour (to fit in with my overseas travel) and will feature three children, as usual.

“But for the first time a girl will lead the trio. I’m forever preaching that in current times girls are just as strong as boys, so now I am writing by example.

“The girl is half-Thai and half-Australian and an expert in martial arts. Anna’s weakness is she cannot help losing her temper. She has two extremely useful boy pals and so the trio is incredibly powerful in facing up to the deadly spectral enemies that I intend to face them with.”

For more information about Mokee Joe and the Billy Hardacre trilogies, see Peter’s website peterjmurray.co.uk

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