We know all authors have to be at least a tiny bit fond of their writing. Can you quote your favourite line from your own work? Oh that’s a brilliant question! The lead character in my latest book ‘Nothing But Trouble’ is a pop star who’s always shooting her mouth off and some of the things she comes out with really make me laugh. But I also wrote a few songs for her and one of them is called ‘Tramp’. It’s about an ex-boyfriend who treated her badly and includes the lines, ‘Yeah you’re hot but that’s about it, and guys like you don’t count for shit.’ That pretty much sums up how I feel about a few ex-boyfriends of mine!
And obviously, authors not only love writing, but are big book nerds too. What’s your fave book EVER? There are loads of books I’ve loved as an adult but my favourite book of all time would have to be ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by CS Lewis. My mum first read it to me, my brother and sister when we were little and I was completely blown away. Over the next few years I must have read it myself at least ten more times. Because I was a camp, girly boy living in a rough northern town I never really fit in and had a horrible time at school. There were times I was so unhappy I would have loved nothing better than being whisked away to a fantasy world like Narnia where I was a king and everyone loved me. I think that’s probably why the book made such an impact on me. And it’s why I made my pop star in ‘Nothing But Trouble’ like Turkish Delight as much as Edmund – it’s a little bit of a tribute for those in the know!
Any YA cliches that drive you crazy? Funnily enough, I haven’t read much YA fiction. I wrote my novels thinking they’d appeal to readers who are younger than me but it was only when they were published that I started to get great responses from teenagers. When I was a teenager myself there wasn’t much YA fiction around and it was nowhere near as good as it is now so once I grew out of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ my escape became pop music. I’d spend hours dancing around my bedroom to songs by Madonna, Janet Jackson and the Pet Shop Boys. I guess that’s why I set ‘Nothing But Trouble’ in the music industry; I wanted to celebrate pop music and how it can make you feel and the impact it can have on you emotionally, which I think is particularly strong when you’re a teenager. And the success of MaximumPop! shows that it’s just as strong now as it was when I was a teenager. Maybe that’s why the book has been such a hit with YA readers.
Speaking of Young Adult, if you met yourself when you were 15, what would you tell yourself? I’d say, ‘You’re wonderful and special and beautiful,’ as these are words I can’t remember anyone saying to me – or if they did they were drowned out by all the insults the other kids at school used to throw at me. I’d promise my younger self that one day everything will be OK and not just OK but brilliant in a way that he can’t even imagine. And I’d tell him that he may feel hated and unloved now but he’ll come through this and in the future people will love him – and they’ll love him for the person he really is. God, it’s actually making me really emotional writing this!
And if we’re travelling back in time, what would you want to say to the first person you kissed? Well, when I was about 11 I spent an afternoon snogging a girl called Jennifer from the council estate where my grandma lived. I remember us lying in the long grass on the side field and timing ourselves to see how long we could keep it going. Of course, I knew I fancied boys really but when I kissed her I felt good about myself because she made me feel normal. So if I could travel back in time and see her again I’d probably have to start by apologising!
Finally, because we all want to know where the magic happens, send us a picture of where you write. Here’s a picture of my writing room in my flat in North London. As you can see there are loads of books along the walls and my dressing-up box is just behind my desk – so if I ever get bored and need a bit of fun I don’t have to go far!
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