Pupils at a school in Blyth have been discovering a nightmare fantasy world where chocolate is about to run out.
The Great Chocoplot – the first book by Wallsend writer and former RAF mechanic Chris Callaghan – was written for his daughter as a substitute Christmas present because the stay-at-home dad and his wife were hard up.
“I have always scribbled down stories for my own pleasure,” said Chris, “but I never thought I would get anything published. In the same way, when I go for a run I don’t think I’ll end up Olympic champion.”
However, the first publisher he approached liked the story which begins with the revelation that an ancient chocolate-worshipping tribe’s prophecy of a Chocopocalypse will come true in six days’ time.
Chris, 47, read snippets of his story to pupils during a two-day visit to Malvin’s Close Primary Academy, describing how – as chocolate lovers panicked – supermarkets had to put guards in their confectionary aisles and hospitals became full of patients who had eaten too much of their favourite treat.
Head teacher Alison Nicholson said: “Chris had the children in the palm of his hand. We are so grateful he spent so much time with us. He certainly fired up their imaginations – but we all hope the Chocopocalypse remains a story.”
The Great Chocoplot was published in March and ever since the author has been busy visiting schools and book festivals across the UK. “I’m still in a bit of daze,” said Chris who was an aircraft mechanic for seven years and served with an operational squadron – as part of the NATO peacekeeping force – in the Bosnian War.
After leaving the RAF he was employed by an environmental testing company but when his work looked set to take him away from the North East – and his new-born baby – he decided to become a house husband while his wife, a deputy head teacher, went back to school.
“That was 10 years ago,” said Chris “and I’ve been writing all the time. I was on the brink of going back to work when the publisher showed an interest.”
He has never attended a creative writing class and admitted that he struggled to explain nouns and verbs to his daughter as he helped her prepare for her SATS.
“I’m so lucky to have this. It really is a dream come true,” he said.