Digital media manager Danny Scott, who plays for an amateur football team in Edinburgh, felt when he was growing up in Penicuik in the 1980s that there were few books which represented his own life in Scotland.
Now, he has scooped a publishing deal for a series of six books about an “ordinary” football-mad primary school pupil living in central Scotland.
The first book of the Scotland Stars series, which follows the adventures of 10-year-old Calum Ferguson as he struggles to settle into a new town whilst fighting for his place on the school football team, will be published this month by Floris Books.
Scott, who works at the Scottish Book Trust in Edinburgh, said: “I was quite a keen reader when I was a child, I loved books by authors like Roald Dahl and Dick King Smith, but there never seemed to be many stories about children like me, living in normal places, being in the same situations as me and facing the same kinds of challenges.
“I wanted to create a book which was based in the central belt of Scotland, about a boy at primary school, doing normal things.”
He added: “There is a big drop-off in the number of children who read regularly, particularly boys, so I hope that writing about something that they feel passionate about in the rest of their daily lives will inspire them to get back into reading.”
Studies have shown that one in five Scottish children from deprived backgrounds leave primary school without being able to read well.
Scott, 36, who plays for amateur team Scotland Writers FC, which counts authors including Christopher Brookmyre and Norweigian author and former Norwegian international Arild Stavrum among its members, hopes his stories will inspire youngsters to read more.
He said: “Reading is sometimes undervalued and sitting down with a book seems so much more difficult for children these days, but in so many ways, they are the same as when I was growing up. I can still remember great games I played in primary school and I think the stories and challenges children have today are still the same. I see groups of kids playing football in the park near my house and it is still the same: there’s the kid who has all of the latest sports gear and the goalkeeper desperate not to make a mistake.
“Reading is so important for children in learning empathy and putting themselves in the characters’s shoes.”
Katy Lockwood-Holmes, publisher and chief executive at Edinburgh-based Floris Books, said: “Scotland Stars FC is a brilliant series for football-mad kids who either already love reading, or need a great subject like football to encourage them into books. They’re Scottish books that reach Scottish kids on their own turf.”