Writing a children’s book about a dog named Bungee – in fact, a series of books about this dog – was never on Martin Pryor’s to-do list.
“It was an accident,” laughs Martin, 68, who is living with Parkinson’s and has so far released Bungee, A Doggy Tale, and Bungee’s Buddies.
“I was just sitting down taking a rest from writing music and in walked our dog. Instead of going on with the song, I wrote a few lines of poetry about him. It became a book and then a second, and a third, and now there are eight in the series I’ve written, with the first two released.
“Bungee is our dog, and he was a rescue dog. The books follow his life and adventures and are written to make reading enjoyable for primary school children. Once the publishing costs are covered a percentage of the profits will go to Parkinson’s NSW. It’s the least I can do to thank them for all they do for people living with Parkinson’s.”
Martin, who lives with his wife in North Balgowlah, released a CD in 2017 called Hot Sand, which raised $1500 for Parkinson’s NSW. He had played guitar in bands as a young man but had a variety of careers until his retirement in 2016.
“Originally I was an art teacher,” Martin explains. “And then for many years I was a professional sailor, sailing around the world. Then I was a history teacher for 20 years and from 2011 I transferred from history to directing a sailing program at the school where I had taught.”
By 2013, Martin was also a keen cyclist, very fit and slim, when he fell down some stairs.
“It took me ten weeks to recuperate,” he recalls. “I had problems with my left knee and other things. I could ride again, but it just didn’t feel right. I couldn’t get the power I used to have. In 2016 when I had issues with my back, I went to see a physiotherapist I’d known a long time.
“She asked me to put my arms across my chest and I noticed my wrist shake and wondered what that was about. I had no idea, but I could see the look on her face. She asked me to see a neurologist. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I said thank heavens for that. It was a relief because I thought it was something much worse.”
Following his diagnosis, Martin retired, and it was when he was tidying his study at home that he found his old guitar.
“The words to Parkinson’s Blues just came into my head,” he says. “I’d been in bands from rock to jazz, in choirs, but I hadn’t touched a guitar for 37 years. Now I’ve done three albums, with the fourth to come.”
Since writing his first children’s book two years ago, Martin and his family have been working on promoting the books.
“It was fun to write the books and as a teacher I have a good understanding of what helps children to read,” says Martin. “I also have lifelong friends who are primary school teachers. I knew what I wanted for the illustrations and supplied the artist with lots of photos of the dogs I was writing about as well as a description of how I wanted them used. I’m very happy with the illustrations.
“We plan to sell books at book fairs and the Manly markets; my son’s girlfriend promotes them on an Instagram account, and I do school visits and email broadcasts.
Just recently I’ve signed with a book outlet in Britain called Featherbed Tales (https://featherbedtales.com/). My book is their first outside author on their website.
This site allows people to record themselves reading the books there so that their child or grandchild can log in and hear the book being read to them as they follow the pages, which is great for families who can’t see each other easily.”
If you’d like to buy copies of Martin’s books, you can purchase them on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Xlibris and Booktopia. Martin also has a number of personally signed books available through Thebungeebooks@gmail.com