A Solihull mum is celebrating becoming an author after her children’s tale was chosen to appear in this year’s Mumsnet Book of Animal Stories.
Nina Hoole penned her winning story after a trip to West Midlands Safari Park with her son James.
The Great Meerkat Escape follows the escapades of a gang of meerkats who scheme to escape their enclosure at the zoo.
Nina, a full-time mum-of-one, said: “We visited the meerkat enclosure and saw them furtively digging away with someone on constant lookout. We were making up stories that they were devising an escape plan.
“When I got home, I started thinking about all those Second World War films like The Great Escape. I took inspiration from them and included lots of references in the story.”
The story was chosen by a top panel of judges including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s wife Miriam González Durántez, former children’s laureate Anthony Browne and columnist and author Lucy Mangan.
“Knowing a panel of judges, including a former children’s laureate, have chosen my story will really inspire me to keep writing,” she added.
A chartered librarian and avid reader, Nina had written for her own enjoyment since she was a teenager, but now had extra help from five-year-old James.
“He certainly thinks of this as his book – this is his bedtime reading now,” added the 38-year-old.
“He helped with the ending.
“Originally they didn’t escape at the end and they came up with a new plan but James didn’t like it.
“So I changed it to more of a happy ending. He’s quite excited about me being published. James thinks it’s my job now, he thinks I’m an author.”
Nina has several other children’s stories she hopes to publish and is currently working on a picture book about a squirrel tree party. The Great Meerkat Escape joins nine other stories in the Mumsnet book, which is available on Amazon.