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

Friday 13 November 2020

Guest Post: George Ivanoff Part One

George Ivanoff has written over 100 books for children and teenagers in all genres including non-fiction. He is considered a legend by his countless fans. 

His latest publication, the highly interesting and detailed The Human Body Survival Guide is a spectacular look at the human body with all its gross and awesome parts.

His You Choose series has been highly successful with thirteen titles in all. His equally popular Gamers series has now been re-released, boasting fabulous new covers that reflect the changing times. 

George shares with us, some interesting information about his latest release, how it came about, plus other snippets on writing.

The Human Body Survival Guide is a comprehensive look at the way our bodies work. How was the book conceived?
It came about during a conversation with my publisher. After The Australia Survival Guide came out, I expressed my interest in doing a second Survival Guide and we started to throw around ideas. With the first book the focus was on death and danger, a popular topic with kids, so we needed something different for the second. And everyone knows kids love anything gross and disgusting… and what’s grosser that the human body with all its blood and guts, secretions and excretions, not to mention parasitic infestations.

How much input did you have in the content and structure of The Human Body Survival Guide?
After that initial conversation, I went off and wrote an outline. So the content and structure were completely up to me. Having said that, I did want to make sure that the structure followed the same pattern as the previous book.

The book is classed as educational, a label which at times can be a handicap, regardless of the fantastic amount of information that is involved. Can you please comment on this?
The book is actually classified as commercial non-fiction for kids. Yes, it is educational and Puffin is certainly promoting it to schools, but its main focus is bookshop sales. I’ve aimed to make this book fun, humorous and creative, as well as informative. And the designer, Astred Hicks, has given the book a unique look that is far removed from the appearance of most education titles.

Entries for this title, as for your previous The Australia Survival Guide, must be precise. Share with us how you research your information to assure its correctness?
I began with some fairly general internet research, to get an overview of things, which allowed me to write the outline. Then the nitty-gritty research was a combination of internet research and my local library. I had two general rules: 1. Two sources for each fact. 2. Facts found on the internet needed to be verified in a book. Number 2 wasn’t always possible, particularly with specialised information on new medical procedures. Once I had finished the draft, my editor went through it and did fact checking. I also got a nurse friend to read it and give me some feedback.

The categories have a grossness scale attached. Are you squeamish, and if so, how did you feel about writing the gross bits?
YES, I am squeamish. I found this book more difficult to research/write than The Australia Survival Guide (as an arachnophobe, it was only the section on spiders that I found difficult with that book). Some of the research for this book was quite traumatic. May I recommend never doing a Google image search for necrotising fasciitis (otherwise known as flesh-eating disease). But despite the grossness levels, the information was also quite fascinating. So, I was simultaneously repulsed and compelled to keep digging up more info.

You have a natural spontaneous childish exuberance in your approach to life which endears you to your readers. Would you attribute to your inner child, your ability to relate to kids and therefore your success?
I don’t think I’ve ever really fully grown up. My inner child takes centre stage in my approach to many things. And kids seem to relate to that. There’s one particular encounter that sums it up for me. I was doing a school visit, and during my presentation I mentioned being a fan of Doctor Who and that I play Pok√©mon Go. After the session, a young boy came up to talk to me about those two things, as he was a fan as well. After our chat, he looked up at me with utter amazement and said: ‘Oh my god, you’re like a grown-up version of me!’ 

Please return on the 3 November to our site, to read Part Two of this scintilating interview with the amazing and talented, George Ivanoff.