The idea for what eventually became
came to me in August 1997, as I sat alone in a small bedsit in the
student residence block at the University of Twente, the Netherlands,
where I'd gone to meet some of the most active instructional
technologists at the time. In the silence that only a Sunday evening
at a University can generate I got the germination of the idea for my
story "Hemmhekk" ("Over there") - intended for pre-teens and young
teenagers,,and with it came the thought that there were no short story
magazines in which to publish it, and most certainly none for the
age-bracket I had in mind.
And that's when I became determined to produce one ... in the form of
a book, containing original stories by the best authors in the genre,
illustrated by the top illustrators ... that, if successful, could be
the first of many.
After Twente I went to Doorn, also in the Netherlands on a conference,
and then to London on a study visit (during which, as a totally
irrelevant aside, Princess Diana died). When I got to Malta I phoned
up Trevor Zahra and told him of the idea, which he liked at once. He
was the one who got in touch with Arthur Gruppetta of Merlin Library,
who decided to publish the book. I contacted a number of authors and
commissioned stories. Only two refused (one because she does not write
for children any more, and one because I had refused to illustrate one
of his books because of pressure of work, and this was his
retribution!) and twelve were left, which suggested the name for the
(a Dozen). The writers were Norman
C. Borg, Charles Briffa, Charles Casha, Carmel G. Cauchi, Tony C.
Cutajar, Jesmond Grech, Alfie Guillaumier, Pauline Miceli, Gorg
Mifsud-Chircop, Mary Puli, Trevor, and I.
Apart from Norman, Trevor and myself, who all illustrated our own
stories, ten illustrators came on board, nine of them doing the
honours (in black and white) for nine of the stories (Sandra Abela,
George Apap (who also drew the cover illustration), Marisa Attard,
Victor Falzon, Andrew Micallef, Joseph Mark Micallef, Jo Muscat,
Victor Pulis and Frank Schembri), and Joe Mallia drew a frontispiece.
I pagemade and produced the whole thing.
The book came out in 1998, and won the National Literary Prize for
books for children for that year. It is now in its second printing,
and book two of Tuzzana has not yet been published only because I've
been too busy to collate it.