Meet the author: Tommy Balaam, founder and director of fun at Captain Fantastic  

Dad and Author Tommy Balaam has just published a new Captain Fantastic’s book, The Undersea Monster, aimed at Key Stage One and the third title in the Captain Fantastic series available to buy on Amazon

The story is beautifully illustrated and follows our intrepid hero Captain Fantastic and his loyal canine companion Wilson, as they travel through space to land on a remote blue, sea planet.  But Captain Fantastic doesn’t listen to Wilson’s wise words about the water and dives too deep, needing to be rescued right out of the jaws of the (not so scary) Undersea Monster! 

Read my interview with Tommy talking about his new book and the inspiration behind it.

captain fantastic book collage

 

What inspired you to create the character of Captain Fantastic and launch the children’s party franchise?

TB: I was looking to set up a flexible business to support my acting career.  However, Captain Fantastic grew rapidly and now I run the children’s entertainment and party franchise voted the UK’s Number One by the trusted reviewing site FreeIndex, full time.

Can you tell us more about the latest children’s book, “The Undersea Monster,” and what inspired its storyline?

TB: It’s about listening to warnings.  My Mum always asked us to play nicely when we were kids.  When I was 12 or 13 years old, my friend Dean wanted to be an escape-ologist so I helped him by tying him up in our rabbit hutch.  While I waited for his great escape I climbed a tree, fell out and broke my arm.  The pain made me forget about Dean as I was rushed to the fracture clinic.  My Mum, who thought Dean had already gone home, found him later, thankfully none the worse and still wanting us to wait for him to escape on his own.  Thankfully, Dean gave up on being an escape-ologist and is now a successful architect. 

As the Director of Fun at Captain Fantastic, how do you ensure that children have a memorable and enjoyable experience at your parties and events?

TB: It’s all about matching energy and being on the same level as the children.  We establish a few ground rules but then it’s about having fun, being silly, jokes and getting the children to interact.  A good comedian gets a laugh every 30 seconds and we need an interaction from the kids twice a minute too.  It might be anything from: ‘it’s behind you!’ to a science experiment which shouldn’t rise in the air but it does.  It’s all magic tricks, puppets and inviting children to join in, in the brilliant world of Captain Fantastic.

Could you share some insights into your personal experience with dyslexia and how it influenced your decision to create a rhyming picture book?

TB: I was always in the top set for maths and bottom set for English but had no idea why.  I was 19 and at drama school when my teacher noticed I was struggling to read scripts and encouraged me to get diagnosed.  The words would jump around and when I needed to read in front of a group, it was incredibly challenging.  Sight reading is my weakness, and the Dyslexia diagnosis helped.  I found coloured sheets, double spacing and bigger fonts helped stop the words moving. 

Anyone with Dyslexia will find they need to work much harder than everyone else but there are things that can help.  My passion for drama motivated me find ways to learn the scripts in advance and eventually I found enjoyment in text and books by pushing through.

I love rhyme and music and for me, being a creative writer is not about spelling – an AI bot can sort this out for me – but much more about storytelling.

What do you hope children will take away from reading “The Undersea Monster” and engaging with the Captain Fantastic series?

TB: Aimed at Key Stage One, The Undersea Monster might be one of the first books a child could pick up and read on their own.  It’s designed to make reading fun and accessible in those early years.  I hope they also take away a love for Captain Fantastic and it introduces them to his world through other touch points like our Youtube Channel or even a birthday party.

 

How important are the illustrations by Daniel Howard in bringing the story of “The Undersea Monster” to life for young readers?

TB: Visual information is key to learning. The story is brought to life with brilliant illustrations by Daniel Howard, so any child aged between four and seven can connect with the story wherever they are in their development.

 

What was the response like from the children during the book reading and magic tricks performance at Godstone Farm?

TB: They loved the performance which is high energy, silly and fun!  I finished off with the book reading to calm everyone down, ready to go back to their parents.

 

Can you elaborate on the themes and messages conveyed through “The Undersea Monster” and how they align with the overall mission of Captain Fantastic?

TB: The Undersea Monster and the two other books in the series, all have a message which aligns with Captain Fantastic’s values.  It’s a world where entertainment meets education.  The messages are subtle but are all around how doing better and making good decisions is rewarded in life in general.  For example, I always look to reward the children who ‘sit the best’.  We also cover themes such as emotional awareness but it’s all very light hearted and fun.

 

With over 2000 parties and events organised annually, what sets Captain Fantastic apart from other children’s entertainment companies?

TB: All our parties and events are organised by professional actors and entertainers who are all franchisees.  Children enter a safe, fun world defined by our own Captain Fantastic brand which includes Youtube channel, books and songs.  Our parties are professionally put together including all the staging and set up which goes above and beyond.  They are really great fun for everyone.

 

What future plans or developments can we expect from Captain Fantastic and the expansion of its franchise opportunities?

TB: As a children’s party and entertainment franchise, we currently have eleven successful franchised areas and are expanding across the UK and into the USA too.  We are inviting more professional actors and entertainers to join us in running flexible party businesses, which can run alongside their existing acting commitments.  All training is provided for the right franchise candidates looking to enter the wonderful world of Captain Fantastic.

 

Captain Fantastic has been voted the UK’s Number One children’s entertainment company by the trusted reviewing site FreeIndex. For further information about Captain Fantastic’s parties and events please see: https://captain-fantastic.co.uk/ 

To learn more about the Undersea Monster click here for a book reading: The Undersea Monster: Children’s Book Premiere – Live Launch Event | Captain-Fantastic.co.uk – YouTube.

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