Something Wicked This Way Comes
"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!" From Agatha
Christie's novel, `By The Pricking Of My Thumbs', to Ray Bradbury's `Something
Wicked This Way Comes', by way of many other novelists (not to mention several
musicians and a number of TV and movie screenwriters), this must be the most
borrowed of Shakespeare's lines.
Having said that I must add, `but what a
cracker of a book this is!' It pulls the two top levers for a novel aimed at
8-12 year-olds: a brother and sister pair (he the elder, she the smarter) and
parents who can't be told anything because they'd lack the imagination to deal
with it. A second brother and sister pair emerge from history, uttering some
delightful invective from Middle English, while providing a stage for the two
boys' budding machismo. The girls, naturally enough, are more inclined towards
cooperation - a rather more successful approach to the problems that have to be
This fantasy tale of a 14th century tragedy invading the present-day is told from the points of view of the present-day pair. This is just as well, because the minds of the historical pair would not be places you'd want to visit.
The pace is fast, the danger lurking in woods and
fairgrounds hugely credible and terrifying, the villains the children must
outmanoeuvre exquisitely loathsome.
The conclusion is positive while leaving the door open for a sequel. Don't make your readers wait too long, Roger. Amazon review, Robert Sheed.
Spook Squad - The Beast of Hangman's Hill
This fresh and fun story with manga-style illustrations is a great choice for girls who may need a book with a lower reading age (8 years) but high interest level.
The Book Trust
Interview with Beachbound Books (USA)
BBB - What inspired you to become a children's author?
Way back in the day, when my dream of being a rock star crashed and burned on the West Coast (of England!), I decided to go and be a teacher. I don’t think the authorities were too impressed by my long hair and weird clothes so they sent me to a
school in the kind of area the London Tourist Board spends its life hoping you never get to hear about. Anyway, I think the powers-that-be thought the kids would eat me alive and they would never
hear from me again - and they were nearly right. The kids were as tough as they come and I was totally out of my depth. But then, just as I was about to throw in the towel, I discovered that the
kids and I had one thing in common - we loved stories. I threw my lesson plans out of the window and told tales about everything. And the more stories I told the more they wanted. Together we acted
out stories, read books, wrote stories, poems, plays, musicals and just had the best fun. So, in a way, stories saved my life. Those kids inspired me and made me believe that I had something to say
that made sense to them. That’s why I’ve now become a full time writer and storyteller. Although I miss having my own class in my own school, this way I get to meet and work with kids all
over the UK and beyond.
BBB - How did you come up with the ideas for Spook Squad -Adventures Too Scary for Boys?
As I say, I believe that all children love listening to stories, but some of them find
reading a real challenge. Although traditionally it’s been boys who fall into this category, many girls are now joining them. As I travel around the
country visiting schools, the girls will often complain that books never have girls who get to be action heroes like boys – so why should they read them? I decided to do something about this and wrote Spook Squad about four girls Roxy, Leena, Nita, Emma (and -whether they want him or not - Rattle the poltergeist) who are as bright and sparky as a fire in a fireworks factory and who have the kind of adventures that are just too scary for boys! The boys now tell me that they want to read these books too – just to prove that they are not too scary for them! I call that a win-win situation.
I bounce ideas for stories off children when I’m doing author visits (and they throw ideas back at me). If they like an idea I develop it – if they don’t it goes in the bin. I find that the children love stories that send a shiver down their spines – but they also like stories with humour too, so I’ve tried to combine both elements for Spook Squad. The ones the kids liked the best have gone into the books.
BBB - How many books have you written?
I’ve written over 60 books, including the Alien Detective Agency series; The Mystery Mob series and The Tribe series. I’ve even written a Dance book and DVD with Cush Jumbo, a British actress who has starred in the BBC TV sci-fi series Torchwood. She did the dancing, I did the writing.
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