Kate Monkman, 42, from Ayton, is a local artist and gift shop owner who has written and illustrated a children’s book about faeries.
Maple and the Crystal Cavern follows Maple Syrup as she makes her way from a human rubbish dump to the magical crystal caverns, which are home to the fungus gnomes.
Kate spent five years working on the book, writing and illustrating it herself. She began writing it when she was living in Wales, but she now lives back in Scarborough with her partner Jez and their dachshund Toby.
Kate said: ”I came up with the idea for the book, wrote it and did most of the illustrations while I was still living in Wales. I already was running my online shop selling my artwork which is inspired by nature, fairy tales, myths and legends.
“I got the idea for the book when I came across the work of mycologist Paul Stamets. He has many fantastic ideas he is putting into practice for how mushrooms can help save the planet such as cleaning up toxic polluted areas, creating natural pesticides that aren't damaging to the environment or wildlife, he is also working on a cure for the virus killing the bee population using mushroom compounds among many other exciting innovations.”
The book is not only inspired by Paul Stamets, but also of a concept known as the Wood Web.
Kate wanted to raise awareness of climate change within her book in a positive way, which is why she included the Wood Web.
Kate said: “There is a concept getting more and more widely known called the Wood Web where the network of fungus in the soil called mycelium actually communicates across the forest, connecting the trees and passing information and nutrients in a symbiotic relationship much like our Internet.
“I loved all these ideas and thought they would make a fantastic children's story so I invented some mushroomy characters called the Mycelies and set the story in a rubbish tip so that the Mycelies can recycle the rubbish.”
Maple and the Crystal Cavern also explores grief, loss, acceptance and the cycle of life in a child friendly way.
The book is available online and in Kate’s shop The Ivy Cavern gift shop in the Market Vaults, Scarborough.