Watch out for Santa's spies!

November 22 2021

Chris Wheeler (right) with co-author and illustrator Steve Gunning

Chris Wheeler (right) with co-author and illustrator Steve Gunning

A LONG car journey with his kids gave a Downend dad the idea for a story which has now been turned into a book.
Chris Wheeler says he was so exasperated with his bored children Reuben and Meg that he warned them Father Christmas could see through the sunroof and would know they were being naughty.
The idea fired his imagination and Chris, who is a software developer and runs a tech company called Foldr at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, came up with a story during the rest of the drive.
He teamed up with his friend Steve Gunning to create Santa’s Secret Agents, a children's picture book about a Bond-style spying operation to check children's behaviour, which has now been published.
Chris said: "I spent most of the rest of that fateful car journey ignoring the children entirely as my head began to fill with ideas and rhymes and puns.
"When I first brought the concept to Steve it was just a simple idea and a few verses.
"Together, with the support of our patient and loving families, through the twists and turns of life, at least one narrative reboot and a global pandemic we were able to turn it into a fleshed-out story and then, with Steve's wonderful illustrations, a complete book."
Chris, who was born in Bristol, has lived in Downend for seven years and played many gigs at the Horseshoe and Beaufort Hunt, now the Duck & Willow, in a band called Figment, going on to perform all over the UK and Europe.
Although he has been writing from a young age, having won a poetry competition aged six, he "was forced to get a 'proper' job" and it was there he met Steve, of Clevedon, who has been writing and drawing from a young age, and has illustrated the book.
Chris has dedicated the book to his wife Jenny and their children, who both attend Blackhorse Primary School.
Santa’s Secret Agents, which is aimed at children aged five to ten, has been published by Carraway and is being sold online by Waterstones and in bookshops.
Steve said: "We are really proud that it will be on sale in bookshops, it’s still a bit difficult to believe!”
Carraway Publishing founder Jane Shergold said: “The early feedback from children, parents and booksellers has been really positive. They adore the humorous tongue-in-cheek verse and of course the in-jokes for all Bond fans, young and old, that are vividly brought to life through the detailed and inventive illustrations."