At the start of June 2014 your 100th book was published, congratulations! Out of your fantastic career what would you say is the stand out moment?
I guess winning The Children’s Book Award back in 1997 with the first One Hundred Mile an Hour Dog - I was utterly bowled over, excited and generally full of whoopee! The next year J K Rowling won with the first Harry Potter book so I was extra lucky there. If Harry had appeared a year earlier I guess Streaker would have been in the dog house!
Is being an author all you expected it to be?
Not at all, it’s been far more than I expected. Like a lot of people I had this vague idea that writers stayed in dark corners toiling over their stories. In fact I spend almost half my time going round the UK, Europe and the Far East talking in schools to children, teachers and parents. A fair amount of time is given over to answering questionnaires, (hmmm, what am I doing at this moment, I wonder?!), and doing interviews for newspapers and magazines, answering fan mail etc. So, no dark corners then!
What one bit of advice would you give to a young author?
Don’t give up trying. It’s tough trying to get your work published and most writers have to work at that really hard. Be patient, always write the best story you can and try to write something that is fresh and new, rather than something that is simply derivative.
You have written many brilliant children’s books over your thirty seven years as a writer. Have you ever had a go at writing books for adults?
At the start of my career I tried writing for adults too but it was my work for children that got taken up and soon I had no time to even consider writing for adults. Looking back I can see how awful my work for adults was. Maybe I’ll have another go in a few years but I have no ideas for an adult novel – at least I don’t think I have. Hmmmmm…. The author goes into a thoughtful silence…!
What was your inspiration to start writing the Jeremy Strong series?
I have always wanted to write – ever since I was about nine. It’s the urge to create mostly. I used to paint too but don’t have time for that any longer. I guess the bottom line is that it’s all about creativity, and having something to say. My head gets full of daft ideas and I have to write them to get rid of them!
Will there be a 101 Jeremy Strong title? If so could you give us a sneak preview of what it will be about?
Kraaarrk! What’s that you say? What’s it about? I’ll tell you what it’s about! It’s about ME! Croakbag, the raven. Kraaarrk! Yes, of course I’m a bird. Whadda you mean, birds can’t talk? What do you think I’m doing? I am the brainiest bird in Rome, Corvus Maximus Inteliigentissimus, and I live with a family of dumb-heads and I keep a beady eye on things. What’s more I have got a gobsmackingly crazy story to tell you about my Roman neighbours - Maddasbananus the inventor, nasty Crabbus and his wife, Septicaemia, not to mention my young friends, Perilus and his sister Hysteria. So watch out for Romans on the Rampage! – out early next year!
Do you have any hobbies that don’t involve reading or writing?
I love art galleries and films and interesting museums. I listen to a lot of music. I love beautiful countryside. Most of all I like sleeping!
Do you have a favourite author?
Of course! In fact I have loads and they write all kinds of books so I can’t just pick out one top favourite. I read different kinds of books depending on what sort of mood I’m in. At the moment I’m reading a crime novel, but before that I was reading a great non-fiction book about crows and ravens. It was partly for research but also because I am fascinated by birds.
What are your plans/hopes for the future in your career as an author?
I’d like to see The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog set of stories as a film or TV series. I’d like to crack America and see the books taken up in the USA. I’d like to write a truly great book that will leave children chuckling well into the 22nd century.
You can find out more about Jeremy Strong and his work at www.jeremystrong.co.uk