Dundee woman becomes first person other than Enid Blyton to write Secret Seven novel

Pamela Butchart grew up dreaming of having her own Secret Seven shed.

Playing with her young pals in a block of flats in Happyhillock, little did she know that fiction would become a reality for her in later life.

Even as the 34-year-old pursued a career as a teacher, she couldn’t have predicted that she would end up as one of the country’s best-loved children’s authors.

But her rise to fame has now been given its crowning glory, as she prepares to write two new books for Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven series — the first not to be written by the world-renowned author herself.

© Chris Close
Pamela Butchart

Pamela’s career as an author has seen her write 18 books for children since 2013, after she entered a writing competition in 2011.

Her work has become so popular with younger audiences that she was hand-picked to write the new novels — the first of which, The Mystery of the Skull, will be published in July next year.

Pamela, who heads the religion and philosophy department at Harris Academy, told the Tele she was both “excited and slightly terrified” to write new tales about child detectives Peter, Janet, Jack, Barbara, George, Pam and Colin — the first since 1963 — and described her rise to prominence as “a bit mad”.

“It was a complete surprise when I was approached. I was a massive Enid Blyton fan growing up so I was blown away when I was asked,” said Pamela, of Broughty Ferry.

“But then the fear set in — the first thing I said was that I hoped people would be OK with it.”

Pamela said Blyton’s stories had played a key role in her formative years, standing her in good stead to enthrall lovers of the series.

“Growing up in a tenement on Happyhillock Road, I was an only child and there were always another six kids on the landing,” she said.

“Everyone wanted their own Secret Seven shed but we had to settle for the bushes out the back.

“The books were massive to me when I was young as my great-gran was unwell for a number of years and I would spend a lot of time there because my mum became her carer.

“I would set up my own fort with a password and just get lost — the books took me away when everything was quite sad and difficult.”

Writing the first draft of the book has been “challenging”, said Pamela, but early feedback has been positive. “I’ve been very, very true to the time period — the story could have been written by Enid Blyton when she was writing the books,” she added.

“It’s not a story that could have just happened nowadays. I’ve had to research the types of biscuits and things they would have eaten back then — nothing can be out of place.”

With the first draft of the book already sent to her publisher, Pamela should be resting easy.

However, she is also working on The Baby Brother From Outer Space! — one of 10 new stories commissioned for 2018’s World Book Day. She’s also expecting her first child around Christmas.

She added: “The last few years have been a bit mad, really.

“Even though I was a teacher and had two degrees, writing fiction seemed like something that other people did – not me.

“I entered a writing competition because they said you would get an A4 page of feedback — that was all I had been expecting but I was soon set up with an agent in London.

“Understanding what makes kids tick and really enjoying what you’re writing about — that’s what mades a good children’s book.”