Your new book ‘Beaky Malone – World’s Greatest Liar’ is out very soon. What inspired you to write this book?
It was actually the publisher, Stripes, who first approached me with the concept of a compulsive liar who could no longer lie, and I immediately saw the potential to take the idea and really run with it.
Beaky Malone – World’s Greatest Liar is based on a boy who has a habit for telling porkies until he loses the ability to lie altogether. Is this character based on anyone you know?
No. Definitely not.
OK, that was a lie. Beaky is based pretty closely on me when I was around his age. I lied constantly – not to be malicious or to get my own way, necessarily, but more just to amuse myself. I made up all kinds of crazy stories and tall tales when I was younger. I like to think of them all as practice for my current job, where I get to sit around all day making up all kinds of crazy stories and tall tales.
Are you good at telling porkies? What’s the funniest white lie you have told?
I like to think I’m good at it, but most people who know me – my wife, especially – can see through me straight away. In terms of the funniest… I’m not sure. I remember when I was about ten, telling my mum a neighbour wanted to borrow her vacuum cleaner, when really my friends and I wanted to use it to try to catch a ghost that was said to haunt the ruins of a local castle. We never did catch it.
You live half way up a mountain in the Highlands of Scotland, what’s it like?Cold. So very, very cold. It’s also a 140 mile round trip to the cinema, hence me developing a real love of books from an early age.
You have won many awards for your books for children and teenagers over the years. If you could win only one award for your books in the world what would that be and why?
I don’t actually pay much attention to awards – nice as they are. Corny as it sounds, to me the best award is an email from a parent saying their son or daughter who has never read books before has become engrossed in mine. That always puts a big smile on my face, knowing I’ve been able to turn someone away from the TV or Xbox and get them reading, even if only for a little while.That said, what’s that award with half a million quid prize money? I’ll have that one, if it’s going.
You are well known for visiting schools all over the UK providing author events. What has been the funniest question you have been asked by a student?
After I’d been talking about my Invisible Fiends series, in which murderous imaginary friends return to take revenge on the children who forgot them, one very serious-looking boy said, “You know you said that Mr Mumbles tries to kill Kyle? Have you ever killed anyone?”
To which I just glared at him for a while and said “Not yet…”
If you could give a young writer one piece of writing advice what would it be?There’s all the obvious stuff about reading and writing as much as possible (which is all good advice) but to be a good writer you also have to live a bit, I think.Go outside, hang out with friends, meet new people, have experiences both good and bad – the more you get into the world, the more stories you’ll be inspired to write, and the more people you know, the more rounded your characters will be.
Did you describe what you thought Dylan aka Beaky would look like to Katie Abbey (illustrator) before she went away to create the character?
Not beyond what’s written in the actual book, no. Katie just had this amazing knack of being able to visualise everything in the story and turn it all into this really energetic artwork. The last time I saw the book was as a very boring-looking Word document, then I saw some of the pages with Katie’s artwork and it just brought the whole thing to life. She’s an amazing talent.
This is the first title in series of Beaky Malone, are you able to give us a sneak preview of what’s to come in the next book?
Pain, misery, humiliation, a school trip, an angry bully, and a very determined clown…
Find out more about Barry at www.barryhutchison.com!