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

Tuesday 25 August 2020

12 Curly Questions with author Martin Chatterton

1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.

I used to eat books. Well, parts of them, anyway. When I was younger I was in the (terrible) habit of absent-mindedly tearing off a tiny corner from the pages of books I read and chewing the scrap of paper. Absolutely disgusting, I think you’ll agree.

2. What is your nickname?
El Chatto. At least, that’s what Tristan Bancks calls me who is probably the only person besides Mrs Chat who uses a nickname... although I admit I put the ‘El’ bit in to make it sound more interesting. So probably more accurate to say ‘Chatto’ which is nowhere near as cool. Mrs Chatto calls me Ed or, more often, Hey You.

3. What is your greatest fear?
Rats! Sharks! Heights! Snakes! Zombies! Seeing Donald Trump in the nude! Marzipan! Seeing Donald Trump in the nude while he's eating marzipan and being chased up Mount Everest by zombie shark rats! 
4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
‘Grab ‘em immediately!’ spat McMurdo, and continued greasing the penguin.

5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Economic. Exciting. Funny. Accessible. Deceptive.

6. What book character would you be, and why?
Sherlock Holmes. He was the first character I can remember wanting to spend time with. And what an interesting life! I could also relate to his various characteristics which, again and again, reminded me so much of me. Massive intelligence: tick. Master of disguise: tick. Fantastically brave: tick again! Musical: tick. Chiselled good looks: tick. Lived in Victorian London, super posh and smoked a pipe: tick, tick, tick!

7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
Funnily enough, I can actually time travel and do so frequently using a machine I constructed from an old Xbox console and a couple of bananas. It isn’t always accurate, and can be downright dangerous in the hands of someone less incredible than me, but I can usually guide it to the time I choose. Mostly I head to 1977 when I was much thinner and a punk rocker and altogether pretty downright cool. In all seriousness though, that year helped me ‘get into’ a creative life as a writer and illustrator as punk taught me that life wasn’t reserved for posh people.

8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
Buy shares in Apple, Google and Microsoft.

9. Who is your greatest influence?
Can I name a few? If we’re talking about influences then PG Wodehouse has to be near the top of the list. Probably the funniest and most skilful writer of all time in my view. I’m also a big admirer of the American crime writer Elmore Leonard, and what both those writers have in common is that they never waste a word. Dr Seuss has also been highly influential, although more as an illustrator than writer. I love the seafaring books of Patrick O’Brien but they haven’t been much of an influence I don’t think. Other writers like Richard Price, Patricia Highsmith, Carl Hiaasen and Damon Runyon feature heavily on my most-thumbed shelf. Daphne Du Maurier also. Basically I only like dead writers (other than Hiaasen) as I don’t need to be jealous of them.

10. What/who made you start writing?
I’d been illustrating a lot of books for Penguin, Macmillan and Walker Books in the UK which was great but, after a while, I thought some of the books I was illustrating weren’t all that great and I figured I could do better. How hard could it be? I thought. It actually turned out to be Quite Hard but I gradually got better at it. I did a book called The Nutty Footy Book which was a jokey kind of book about football (soccer) which did well and we ended up doing a whole Nutty series... and things led on from there. Now I write crime novels, screenplays, picture books, chapter books, historical fiction and new combinations like The Tell, which is a kind of teen thriller story.

11. What is your favourite word and why?
Fish. Firstly because it’s nice and short and, secondly, it’s one of the key words in a book/animated movie of mine called Winter of the White Bear, which is something that’s been occupying a lot of my time over the past year.

12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Collected Works of PG Wodehouse 

Martin Ed Chatterton is a British/Australian writer, illustrator, performer and producer whose books for children and adults have been published in more than a dozen languages and who has a successful co-writing relationship with global publishing phenomenon, James Patterson. In 2017 he completed his PhD and is currently a partner in a UK media company. For more information, see www.worldofchatterton.com.