What inspired you to write Geekhood?
It sort of happened like this: I had had an idea for a story about a teenage witch-hunter who falls in love with a girl accused of witchcraft. It was going to be all medieval and grim and full of something that might or might not be magic. I went to my agent with the idea and she tactfully suggested that I write something more contemporary, so I went back to the drawing board.
A little while later, I was chatting with a mate about my teenage years and told a story about when I first tried to ask a girl out – which didn’t end well! Because he found it so funny, I started thinking about what life was like for me back then; what was going on, how I was dealing with it and what my interests were – and then I started writing.Geekhood is almost semi-autobiographical; a lot of what happens to Archie happened to me and, I’m sure, continues to happen to teenagers today. But the inspiration was that story that I told my friend; that’s where it really came from.
Was Geekhood originally planned as a Trilogy, or did you enjoy writing the first books so much that you carried on?
I seem to be one of those people with no ambition; I tend not to plan anything – just have a go and see where it takes me. When I wrote the first book, my agent suggested it might be worth coming up with a couple more stories, in case a publisher wanted another book or two. When we signed the deal with Stripes, it was for two books – which made me ridiculously excited and getting to continue the story was fantastic. Whether there’ll be a third is unknown at the moment, but I know what happens – I just need the go-ahead to write it. But, originally, I had no set plans to write anything beyond the first book. Anything that has happened after that has just been an extraordinary and unexpected bonus.
What one person would you label as your inspiration, not only for Geekhood but your whole life?
I have learnt more from my dear old mum than anyone else. She’s an incredible woman and our friendship is one of the most valuable things in my life.
Which Geekhood book would you say is your favourite?
The one I haven’t written yet! The first book will always have a beautiful nostalgia attached to it because it was my first book, but the second one is where I applied what I learnt from writing the first one. I can’t separate them, so I’ll have to say that it’s the third one that may or may not be.
Have you always wanted to be an author? What was your previous job?
No – but I was always interested in telling stories, after a fashion. From the age of about 12, I wanted to be an actor, so that’s what I did. I went to the drama school, LAMDA, for three years, came out the other end, got myself an agent and worked for over 20 years, telling stories through theatre, TV, film and radio. The writing thingwas a sort of challenge I set myself; I’d spent so long telling other people’s stories that I wanted to see if I could tell one of my own.
Is being an author your dream job? What would your dream job be?
I think being an author comes pretty close – I just hope I get to continue doing it! I’m a fairly idealistic person and being able to write what’s in my head and pass along information that I think is important ticks a good few boxes for me. And I love the whole going to festivals and doing school visits thing. The only other job I can think of that might have the same resonance for me would to be in a successful band.Bagsy rhythm guitar.
Have you got any writing tips you would like to share?
The way I see it, everyone’s got their own approach. Some like to plot things out, some just like to see where the words take them – so it’d be fairly arrogant of me to presume that I’ve got any better ideas on how to do it than anyone else. But, if push came to shove, I’d say that you’re only going to find out what your approach is by having a go. So, if you want to be a writer, the best tip I can give is: start writing and keep writing. I treat everything I write as an experiment and even the apparent failures have something to teach you – you’ve just got to be open enough to look for the lessons.
Again, thank you to Andy Robb for letting me feature him!