My name is William Reimer and I am a 23 year old Australian writer.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Between classes in middle school, I would be coming up with the most embarrassing song lyrics and poems – in high school I wrote and produced a musical song for a Drama production – Then one day in Year 11 English I was given the assignment to write a short story.
Never one for deadlines, I left it to the last minute. On the night before it was due I came up with the very first draft of A Ferret Named Phil. The title seemed obvious to me – Mem Fox had taken every other animal under the sun – and the name “Phil” seemed a no-brainer. As for the inherent themes of self-confidence and asserting yourself against bullies – this is something that I’ve always believed in. So in it all went!
I thought it was a cute story, my teacher Mrs Eton was pleased enough and my class seemed to like it. So it was placed at the bottom of a shelf where it remained for years.
Made it through high school by the skin of my teeth but could never really find my place. I didn’t have any desire to have a “normal” or “adult” job – never wanted to work in an office or become an accountant, so I went from job to job.
I sold energy door-to-door (Desperate to make a contract one evening out in the suburbs of Adelaide I ate a very… interesting sausage casserole with a very interesting family), delivered pizzas in my trusty Holden Rodeo, and eventually settled into hospitality.
Skip ahead a little while and I rediscover some old pages of “A Ferret Named Phil”. I was getting bored with my work, maybe I could give publishing it a shot…? What’s the worst that could happen? I’d fall flat on my face and get another job! Let’s give it a go.
So I started reaching out to people to see if they were interested in the story, as it had themes that I believed contained important messages for children. I also loved how it was told in completely rhyming verse – it was a fun challenge for me to write.
As I spoke to more and more people on Facebook groups about the book, the more I heard about their own incredibly heartbreaking stories in regards to their children… and how they were affected by troubles in and out of school. The more I spoke to these people, the more I felt compelled to finish my book. I felt that through some of the life lessons I’ve learned about resilience and self belief, I might be able to create a story that could inspire a child on a deep level. The support was also pretty amazing.
I had no idea where to begin but I’ve always firmly believed that if you commit to something absolutely positively 100% – you can achieve it.
Trawling through internet articles – reading as many books as I could on the subject, I started to gain knowledge about the publishing industry and how to go about building a book. I hired an old friend I met at kindergarten to do the illustrations, James Moore, and we’d meet every week in a Glenelg cafe to discuss the artwork.
A few months later it was GO TIME! I went to bank after bank after bank looking for a loan – but it was the same thing every time. No assets, no solid income, yada yada yada. “Fair enough”, I thought. So I started a crowd funding campaign and began getting in touch with almost everyone I had ever come in contact with.
16 rewrites later, back and forth with James Moore quite a few times (Sorry James!) and the book was published.
Bullying is something that affects everybody at some stage of their life, regardless of how big or small you are. From cyber-bullying to schoolyard bullying and all the way to workplace bullying.
The feedback and testimonials I have received from parents and teachers have been astounding. It’s currently being used as an anti-bullying resource in schools nationwide as momentum builds.
A Ferret Named Phil is finding his way into each and every primary school and kindergarten in Australia, making an incredibly positive impact on children across the country. I would love you to be a part of the journey.
William Reimer, 2017