Congratulations on your debut children’s book.
So tell us, where did the idea or inspiration for Fire Boy come from?
Nothing beats the sound of children laughing so my plan was to write a funny story. Playing around with fun ways to start a novel, I wrote the question-and-answer quiz that opens FIRE BOY in one go. The rest of the story took off from there.
Because I teach primary school, I was very familiar with a funny book that children read again and again – DIARY OF A WIMPY KID. Unfortunately, I can’t draw, so re-creating another WIMPY KID was never an option. But I did want to write a book for its readers.
That’s where Flann O’Brien’s AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS comes in.
AT SWIM-TWO-BIRDS is a novel about a novel where characters rebel against their author.Inside are lists, newspaper articles, biographical excerpts, a medieval Irish poem and more. And it’s hilarious. Though AT SWIM is aimed at grown-ups, it plays with ways of writing and telling stories. And that I could do.
So in went a jar of super-powered sweets, three best friends, a teen-aged fortune-teller, a mad Granny, a cat named Lemon, a circus and an evil villain who turns into a monkey.
And out came FIRE BOY.
I hope you enjoy it!
Have you always been a fan of superheroes and comic stories?
YES! I poured over comics when I was a boy, re-reading their story-lines and studying their panels. I read Marvel comics mostly and was a big fan of Spiderman and the Fantastic Four.
Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Or a favourite character?
Granny is my favourite character, mostly because she was the easiest to write funny lines for.
I like the ending of the novel, how it comes together and hints at danger ahead.
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
Stopping time would be brilliant. Think of the jokes you could play! Plus you would never get caught! It would be a big help too when it came to meeting deadlines.
How does it feel to hold the novel in your hand?
Unreal. Samuel Perrett’s designs and illustrations are amazing. I owe him and my editor at Hachette, Lena McCauley, so much.
What books did you read as a child, and have they influenced the writer you are now?
I read everything as a child – newspapers, comics, magazines, novels, detective stories, fantasies, biographies and sports books. We went to the library every week, so picking out just one book as ‘special’ would be very hard.
What are you working on now?
The sequel to FIRE BOY!