Good Feature in the Daily Record

Just before Christmas the Daily Record ran a feature about my change in career and lifestyle. It’s probably the most accurate article that’s ever been ran about me.

Full version can be found here (complete with scary pictures) but here’s the condensed copy.

STUART REID has already authored the Gorgeous George series for kids, but more recently has been giving talks at events and festivals.

STUART Reid enjoyed a luxury lifestyle in Dubai – complete with five-bedroom house, pool, maid and flash cars.

But the dad-of-two turned his back on his place in the sun to return to Scotland and write kids’ books .

Stuart has written best-seller Gorgeous George and the Geriatric Generator and four sequels and is busy giving talks to schools and at festivals.

He is also is launching a creative writing programme for children.

And he has no regrets about his decision to quit his job as a hotel manager to follow his dream.

Me and the girls

Stuart, 47, lives near Falkirk with wife Audrey, 42, who works in airport security, and their daughters Jess, 15 and Charley, 10.

When he went to Dubai, it was to manage Premier Inn’s first hotel outside the UK – a 300-bedroom property in the Gulf state.

He said: “It was a great accolade to go across there. For the first two years it was great.

“We built a fantastic hotel, occupancy was brilliant and I was enjoying myself.”

Stuart, who was also the voice of Scottish football on a radio station in the Gulf, added: “I had a five-bedroom house, a maid, a gardener, swimming pool and two 4×4.

“But I grew disillusioned by the shallow, materialistic rat race and gave it all up to write about bums, bogies and big bottom burps. It is now my job to inspire even the most reluctant readers to want to read more books, more often. And it’s the best job in the world.”

Towards the end of 2008, the hotel industry hit a slump and Stuart realised he wasn’t happy.

“Suddenly everyone was fighting for a slice of an ever-decreasing market,” he said.

“My wife said I should do something fun and work out what I enjoyed doing.

“I wasn’t chasing a bigger house, a bigger swimming pool and more money. But I knew I used to love writing.

“I’d written a play which was performed in Dubai and I’d also written a radio advert for Premier Inn, so I thought, ‘I’m going to see if I can start writing.’

“I started writing about things that made me laugh. And suddenly the writing took over from the running of a hotel.

“So my wife and I said, ‘Let’s go back to Scotland’. I gave up the lifestyle to follow a dream. I knew I’d never have another chance to try and be an author.

“And it’s turned out even better than living in so-called paradise in the Middle East.

“I have been a full-time author for nearly three years and am probably one of the busiest in Britain today.

“I’ve performed at 700 schools, libraries and book festivals in that time, including over 60 shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

“My first book Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator, was released in 2011, and chosen as Silver Seal winner at the Forward National Literature Awards in America.

“It was a Top Pick in the Daily Record’s Book Club and its re-release last month includes a testimonial from Ireland’s Children’s Laureate, Eion Colfer.

“There are now four books in the Gorgeous George series, with number five, Gorgeous George and the Jumbo Jobby Juicer, due out in March 2015.”

But it’s not all been plain sailing and after a dispute with his publishers, Stuart has turned to self-publishing with help from Indie Authors Scotland.

He said: “This will take a few more months and things have been tough recently but I’ve had tremendous help from a designer and illustrator in Grangemouth, John Pender.”

Stuart was recently presented with the Enterprise in Education Champion Award by Falkirk Council for his work with local schools.

He’s loving being able to write and inspire children. Meanwhile, Audrey has discovered a love for growing vegetables.

He said: “We’ve realised it’s little things like that that make us feel really happy. It’s one of the fundamental things I say to kids, is work out what you love doing best, become really good at it and then get paid for what you love doing.”

Stuart’s latest initiative, the Writing Rules OK programme, came about because he was so busy visiting schools.

He said: “My diary became so busy I wished I could clone myself. So by the end of this year I will be launching a creating writing website for schools and individuals to download modules, activities, exercises and lesson plans.”

His programme is aimed at pupils aged seven to 14 and each module will contain a 15-minute video and a series of activities suitable for different age groups.

Stuart said: “Once each module has been purchased by the school, they can be played over and over again to any number of pupils in that school for no extra cost.

“Hopefully I can inspire them to want to pick up their pencils.”

Stuart added: “I’ve got to pinch myself now. I don’t have a proper job. Five years ago, I wore quite sensible suits and ties. Now I wear shorts and a T-shirt every day. I just want to get kids into reading and if that means I talk about poo and pee and pumps – even better.

“I’ve regressed to my childhood and I’m eight years old again.”

 

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