'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Author Interview: Andy Griffiths

Wowee! We have an exclusive interview with the Andy Man! Hope you love this as much as we did here at KBR.

How long have you been writing?
I have an exercise book of writings, cartoons, jokes and newspaper clippings that I started when I was about ten.

What inspired you to write for children?
I became an English teacher and was trying to encourage my Year 7 students to read. Many of my students told me they wanted something funny to read, but nobody seemed to be writing anything very funny at that time. I decided to have a try.

How did you make your start in writing for children?
I started writing down small, funny anecdotes and sharing them with my students. They would then write down their own funny or embarassing stories and we’d put them together in a photocopied book. I started collecting my own stories and self-publishing my

What other genres have you written in?
Hardly any! No matter what I try to write my ‘funny instinct’ takes over and I find I’m writing humour. I once tried to write a romance story for a competition but pretty soon the hero and heroine were melting in each others arms … literally melting all over the floor … at that point I gave up trying to write anything but humour.

Why do you write?
Because it’s just like play for me … I love playing with words and experimenting with ideas. I also love being able to make people laugh with what I write. It’s wonderful to receive letters from readers telling me how much the books mean to them and often how they turned their attitude around from ‘reading is boring’ to ‘reading is fun’!

Have you experienced any blocks or obstacles in your path to writing books?
At first publishers rejected my early efforts. They found them a bit too crazy. It took a while for me to learn how to rein myself in. I had to learn to start stories sounding very normal and reasonable and slowly lead the reader into a world of nonsense.

Your latest book What Body Part is That? is a non-scientific, fun guide to the human body. What was your inspiration for writing this?
Terry and I went away on a writing week and during that week he drew a close-up picture of his finger with little mountain climbers scaling his finger tips. I was so taken with the picture that I suggested we do a whole guide to the human body in this style.

What’s a typical writing day?
Generally it starts with a run or a swim. Then by about 9.30am I’m at the desk working on whatever book is being written at that time. I’ll generally work on and off until about 4-30. Then I’ll answer letters, email and attend to interviews like this one. Evenings are generally spent with my family either reading or watching some inspirational comedy or documentaries that will often provide ideas for the next day’s writing.

What advice do you have for others on writing for children?
Don’t try to guess what sort of story children might like. Write the sort of book that you loved to read as a child and that you find really involving to write. When I write I’m not necessarily only trying to write for children … I’m trying to write the clearest, funniest story that anybody can enjoy.

What else do you love to do, other than write books?
Run, swim, read, laugh and stare out of the window.

What is the best thing about writing books for children?
The endlessly fascinating puzzle of constructing really interesting plots and characters. It’s like assembling a vast, three dimensional jigsaw that is completely involving. The other great thing is receiving letters from--and meeting--the readers who’ve enjoyed the books.

What is the hardest thing about writing books for children?
It takes a LOT of time and a LOT of discipline. Coming up with the books is one thing, but a great deal of work goes into re-writing the books many many times until they’re as perfect as I can make them. This process can sometimes be a long, hard process.

What would be your perfect day?
See the answer to ‘What’s a typical writing day’.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
Maybe an English teacher. Or possibly a stand-up comedian. Being a writer is a bit of a combination of both!

What books did you read as a child? Can you reveal your top 5 favourites?
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish – Dr Seuss
The Wishing Chair – Enid Blyton
Coles Funny Picture Book – Professor EW Cole
Now we are six – A.A. Milne

What’s next for Andy Griffiths?
A really cool book about me and Terry living in a 13-Storey Tree House trying to write a really cool book about living in a 13-Storey Tree House. It’s called ‘The 13-Storey Tree House and will be published in September 2011.

Anything else you’d like to say?
Check out my website for news of talks, theatrical shows, videos, book trailers and news of what’s going on. Oh yeah, and look after your body … it’s the only one you’ve got!