“Asthma doesn't have to stop you being a superhero”

Author Paul Murdoch talks about why the main character in his book is a superhero with asthma

"At four years old I remember rolling down a grassy hill on a summer’s day. I tried to take a breath, but I couldn’t. This carried on throughout my childhood. Sometimes I would be fine, but then I’d start wheezing – usually when I caught a cold - and I just got used to it."

Living with asthma

"I wasn’t formally diagnosed with asthma until I was in my early 20s. I was flying back home to Glasgow from a skiing holiday, and I began struggling to breathe – perhaps from being constantly exposed to cold air. When we landed I went straight to hospital."

"Initially, I used a reliever and a preventer inhaler every day but, I admit, I was rubbish at taking them and I stopped using the preventer, only taking the reliever when I felt short of breath. My pharmacist reminded me that I was overdue for an asthma check-up the other day, so I’m going in a few weeks, I know regular reviews are really important."

How asthma inspired a story idea

"I have two sons and both of them have asthma – Joe, 18, has it mildly while Ryan, 23, has more severe symptoms. While we were on holiday staying a very damp cottage, Ryan, then 11, had an asthma attack and had to go to hospital. He was there for four days on a nebuliser and it was a really scary time."

"To entertain him, I began telling stories about a boy who had adventures in fantasy lands with dragons and monsters. He was frustrated with me because I kept forgetting the characters’ names and wanted me to write them down, so that’s how the idea for my books was born. Ryan asked me if could make the main character have asthma like him, so I did."

No barriers

"I created the boy-hero James Peck, who has asthma. People with asthma are often portrayed as weak in films and books, so I wanted to show children with asthma that they are just as able as other children and their condition shouldn’t stop them doing things. Just look at all the people with asthma who have achieved great things, like David Beckham and Bradley Wiggins.

"The book also mentions James using his asthma inhaler. This will hopefully help kids who are embarrassed to take their inhaler in front of their peers, and help spread the message that, when managed properly, asthma need not be a barrier to living a full, healthy and adventurous lifestyle."

Last updated February 2016