Can you believe Pete Johnson, author of theVampire Blog series and How To Train Your Parents, is celebrating his 25th anniversary as a published author? Taking this issue's hot seat we can't wait to ask him about writing, his new book The Vampire Fighters and what his future plans are...
The third and final part of your vampire series, 'The Vampire Fighters' is on its way. What can we expect?
Marcus, as you may remember, is a highly reluctant half-vampire. Tallulah, a girl he really likes, comes close to discovering Marcus’ secret identity. So he’s forbidden from seeing her. But in their village there are sightings of a mysterious and frightening figure called ‘The Blood Ghost’. Tallulah guesses The Blood Ghost’s true identity – it’s the deadliest vampire of all. And then they both become caught up in a terrifying mystery. I’ve really raised the stakes in this one. You will see now a whole new side to Marcus and Tallulah – and the ending is the most spectacular I have ever written. I really hope you like it!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
It was one of my ambitions. I wanted to be an actor, a footballer and a writer. I had some great teachers including one called Mr Smart (good name for a teacher) who encouraged my writing. And by the age of about eight or nine I was already writing long stories and reading them aloud to my family – who listened to them very patiently!
Where does your inspiration come from?
That’s the most mysterious part of a writer’s life. Usually you just get a glimpse of an idea first. Then you think and think about it, and often when you’re least expecting it a brilliant idea or a big scene just explodes into your head. I’ve had some of my greatest ideas when I’ve been cleaning my teeth! So you never know when inspiration will strike. You are just extremely glad when it does.
What was your favourite book as a child?
I had so many favourites – I read about six books a week when I was a child. But the book I read over and over (friends would say, ‘You’re not reading it again are you?’) was 101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith. I’m a great dog lover and it just enchanted me, especially the idea of dogs passing messages at night via The Starlight Barking. When I was eight I wrote a fan letter to Dodie Smith. She wrote back and we stayed corresponding for over twenty years. One day she asked if I’d ever thought of becoming a writer, as she was sure I’d make a good one. A question which changed my life.
Is there anything you have yet to achieve but would like to?
Yes, firstly I’d love to write a really good mystery story with an ending so amazing and incredible no one can believe it. I’m playing with a few ideas at the moment but I’m still waiting for that inspiration I told you about. Also, I’d love to see one of my books adapted as a film or TV series. I’ve had a number of options taken out but no lift-off yet. And to tell the truth I’m getting very impatient now!
What, in your opinion, makes a good story?
A good story is when you can’t stop reading it and you say to yourself I’ll just read one more chapter, then another and another … A good story is also when you can see the characters so clearly, they’re nearly as real to you as the people around you. They go on living in your head long after the story has finished too. And a good story – even a very serious one – should sometimesmake you smile. For me a sense of humour is essential in any good story.
Do you have any writing tips for us?
Yes, try and write every single day. A number of my characters – like Louis in How to Train Your Parents keeps a diary. While Marcus in the Vampire trilogy keeps a blog. Maybe you could do the same – and write about anything you want. It hasn’t got to be what you did that day. It might be someone you noticed on a train or a strong opinion you hold. You will be amazed, though, if you do write every day how much more natural writing becomes to you. Then maybe you could follow me and go in for writing competitions. It meant so much to see my work in print for the very first time. One last tip – always carry a notebook with you just in case you suddenly get that fantastic idea.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
To keep writing – and hopefully keep on making you laugh. And also to write that top mystery I told you about earlier.
To find out more about Pete and his books why not take a look at his website www.petejohnsonauthor.org