An author who creates “delightful” characters said he credits the Waltham Forest Adult Learning Service for landing him a book deal for his fictional series.

Guy Waddilove, of Farnan Avenue in Walthamstow, has written two children’s books about a ‘dragleon’ – a magical creature which is half dragon and half chameleon.

Speaking to the Guardian this week the self-described struggling author, who is also a volunteer zookeeper at London Zoo, said the classes he took at the council-organised learning service set him on the path to becoming published.

“I found it incredibly helpful,” the 48-year-old said.

“I wouldn’t be in the situation I am today without it.

“Other creative writing courses didn’t seem happy criticising people, but you really need that, you really need to learn by your mistakes.”

Mr Waddilove is currently writing the latest of his “magical modern faerie tales” set in pre-colonial southern Africa.

As yet untitled, it will continue as the other two began.

He said he hopes the books illustrate issues of racism, bullying and prejudice – all under the guise of a magical fantasy story.

Inspired by a friend’s daughter who was having a difficult time at school, he started writing the stories in the hope they would encourage her.

He then sent his writing to publishers, one of whom, Sheil Land Associates, asked him to write a series.

“What I’m hoping to do is impart a little of Africa’s beauty and at the same time a little bit of knowledge about wildlife and the way things fit together over there and wrap it up in a bit of magic, mystery and fun,” he said.

Peter Slater, writing course teacher, said Mr Waddilove’s talent was clear from the start.

“The character of the dragleon is as delightful as any of the imaginary creatures created by Dr Seuss or Roald Dahl.”