What books did you like when you were young?
Like a lot of kids, I was a big Roald Dahl fan. I also read all of the ‘Five Find-Outers’ series by Enid Blyton. And I loved the football books of Michael Hardcastle. But I would read pretty much anything. My mum and dad used to take me to Dudley library on a Saturday morning and I’d borrow as many books as I could.
Did you always want to be a writer?
I think so. I remember wanting to play centre forward for West Bromwich Albion, or be a commentator on Match of the Day. But, other than that, I’ve always wanted to write. I started writing little stories when I was 7 or 8.
So, what do you do all day?
I take my two daughters to school, and then I come home, sit down and make things up. Well, actually, before I start writing, I usually make myself a cup of tea. And sometimes a bacon-and-egg sandwich, if I’m hungry. And then a second cup of tea. And then I start writing. If my writing is going well, I reward myself with some biscuits. If it’s going not so well, I cheer myself up with some biscuits. I eat a lot of biscuits. I try to go for a walk every day, because that’s often when good ideas come to me. And also so I don’t put on heaps of weight.
Do you do the illustrations for your books, too?
No. I’m not so good at drawing. I wish I was. The only animals that I can draw are pigs, and I don’t really want to write lots of stories about pigs (and it would be especially weird to write about pigs while munching on bacon sandwiches). So the publishers of my books always team me up with a brilliant artist. In the ‘Stinky and Jinks’ novels, it was Mark Chambers and now, in the new editions, The Boy Fitz Hammond (who is also the illustrator of my ‘The Incredible Dadventure’ series). In the Squirrel Boy books, the illustrator was Cate James, who is equally fantastic.
What do you do in your spare time?
I play the harp, juggle chainsaws, and tickle trout. Actually, none of that is true, but it’s a lot more interesting than my real answer, which is: playing football, reading, and losing to my wife and daughters at cards.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Every book is different. Some come out really quickly (in a couple of months). Some are a bit more painful (but hopefully not for the reader!) and take more like 4 or 5 months.
What’s your favourite word?
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