Have you visited the Barn’s shop page recently? There’s plenty of great reading material to be found, including local history Miscellanies, our own exhibition publications, walks guides and more!

Just one of the books available is “Lucy and the Secret Room” by author, Darren John Charlton. This publication has been on sale at the Barn since last year, and has proved popular with younger visitors. The book is written for children aged between 8-12 years old, and is about Lucy, a 9 year old girl, who discovers a secret room that can only be accessed through her bedroom. Lucy enlists her best friend, Jamie, who is more than keen to go on this secret adventure with her to explore the room.

Darren is an engineer by profession and lifelong resident of Dronfield. He kindly took some time out of his schedule to answer some questions about the book.

Who, or what, were your influences for writing the book?

I got the idea one night after reading my daughter, Lily, a bedtime story. I wanted to combine a fictional story with some science as most books are either one or the other. The hope is that I can introduce an interest in some basic STEM principles outside the classroom in a setting children can relate to. Lily was the inspiration for the story and the main reason to put pen to paper. The characters in the story aren’t based on real life people just loosely based on things I’ve seen and stories I’ve been told over the years. As the story is about Lucy and the book could be seen as her own journal, I asked my daughter, Lily, who was about nine at the time to draw the pictures. I thought this would not only be exciting for her but the style of the illustrations should also resonate with children of a similar age.

The second reason for publishing the book is to raise money for charity. The four charities I am working with are: Children’s Air Ambulance, British Heart Foundation, Alzheimer’s Research UK, and British Dyslexia Association.

What are your favourite books, and what are you reading at the moment? Have you got any plans for a sequel to your book?

I’m not currently reading anything at the moment but I enjoy books by Chris Ryan, Andy McNab and Jeffrey Archer. Although I keep looking at The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein, I’ve still not yet started it! As a kid I loved the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and even though there are similarities with my book that is a fantasy story.  I didn’t want children to be unsure about what is based on real science or what was just fantasy so I’ve kept the fantasy aspect out of my book. I am currently working on Lucy and the Secret Room Vol.2 which follows directly on from the first book.

And finally, what do you like about Dronfield Hall Barn?

When I was looking at retailers to sell the book locally, the Barn was an obvious choice. As well as wanting to support locally businesses I love the historical connection to old Dronfield. Being located in the heart of Dronfield with easy accessibility and set in lovely grounds, I can see why so many people choose it for events.  Having a fantastic coffee shop is also a bonus! 

You can find “Lucy and the Secret Room” on your next visit to the Barn – the book is available for £8.99. To learn more, head to Darren’s website by clicking here, or, alternatively, click here to view his Facebook page.