London, Apr 28 : English pop singer Geri Halliwell is taking a walk down a very different career path - children's book author.
Halliwell revealed how she has based her quirky new characters on her own days as a schoolgirl, and also explains why she has become a National Reading Ambassador for The Sun as part of the National Year Of Reading.
"I'd love it if the average person who doesn't necessarily buy books could discover the delights of discovering a good story," the Sun quoted her as saying proudly of her new role.
Halliwell will be publishing her first children's book Ugenia Lavender on Friday May 02, and it is one of a planned series of six titles aimed at children over 7-years. The singer has been working on the book for the past four years.
"I know there is prejudice against celebrity authors but if you read my stories you'll know they're not ghost written - only I could be that bonkers!" she says, self-mockingly," she said.
The character, Ugenia, in her book is based on her as a young child with a swinging bob of clipped ginger hair, a smattering of freckles and a confident, mischievous smile.
Her parents are a dinosaur expert and a breakfast telly presenter, and the story portrays her as a classic misfit, struggling to find friends at a new school and suffering at the hands of a bully.
"Ugenia is definitely a part of me. She's like my inner brat," Geri confesses, adding that the story is loosely based on her own experiences growing up in Watford, Herts.
"There was a girl at school who threatened to throw me over the railway tracks. I remember trying to find my place in the schoolyard, being different and wanting to fit in.
"I maybe didn't think of myself as a misfit at school but I came from what I would say was a humble background.
"My parents didn't have much money and my dad would drop me off in this old Mazda car.
"It was really old and I'd feel a little bit embarrassed. Your whole world at that age is based on those stupid things and if anything's different you think, 'shame'. I remember telling my dad about this girl's threats and him talking to the headmistress. It all came flashing back when I visited my old school a few weeks ago.
"But equally I have fantastic memories of playing kiss chase with all the boys and of playing true dare, double dare, love, kiss or promise.
"It was the first time I felt the power of trying to be cute. The girls used to take a boy to the stock cupboard and kiss them for ten seconds," she stated.
The book, based on the playground tales, was not difficult to pen down in a way children would understand according to Geri.
"It was so natural," she explains.
"I am very childlike and silly and I found children relate to my wackiness. I have a language they respond to. I've always been driven by books, even self-help ones.
"As a girl I'd be writing little stories beside this outside toilet at school when I was waiting my turn to go. I've got collections of diaries. It was a way of expressing myself," she said.
Halliwell is very excited about the book and she describes each new plot with gleeful detail.
"I try and put heart into it," she said.
"I think people can feel it when it's real," she added.
Ugenia Lavender will be published by Macmillan on May 02, at 6.99 pounds. The audio book, read by Geri, is available on CD and download, for 8.99 pounds and to find out more about it, one can log on at ugenialavender.com.