TWENTY years after a collection of short stories were written and illustrated in Wellington Heath, near Ledbury, an American publisher has invested in a lavish edition with full colour pictures.

The Bizarre Fables project was the brain-child of Ledbury Reporter, Gary Bills and his wife, Heather Elaine Geddes, and the aim was to produce appealing modern fairy tales which might appeal to modern readers, especially grown-ups, "by reflecting the somewhat creepy or sinister aspects of age-old, traditional fairy tales".

A number were co-plotted, with Gary doing the writing and Heather producing the imagery, while the couple were living at Uplands Farm, off Burtons Lane.

A 'budget' version of the book, with only a few illustrations, came out in 2018; but the new version is something quite different.

Gary said: "It's larger, and full of wonderful illustrations. It's not cheap, compared with the early version, but we hope and believe it is worth it."

The new book carries a back-cover endorsement by Gabriel Griffin, director of the Poetry on the Lake festival in Italy.

She wrote: "Herein lies magic. These delightful fables, sprung from the dreams and the vision of an artist, Heather E Geddes, communing with a poet, the writer Gary Bills, will enchant with tales of earth at the beginning of time, of the wandering dead and the whispering ones, of deserts and moon and much else besides. These stories rich in colour, resonant with ancient archetypes, deep in significance, are tales that linger in the mind long after this book is reluctantly put down."

The new edition, Bizarre Fables (Illustrated) has been published by The Little French Media, based in New York, and copies are available from both Amazon in the UK and the USA, and also from Barnes & Noble in the US.