Guest Author - Simon Puttock
You have had a large variety of jobs. Where did you find the inspiration to become an author? Or have you wanted to be an author from a young age?
I first realised I wanted to be an author when I was seven. However, l failed to become one instantly (much to my seven year old surprise), and well, life happens whether you're an author or not, and it took me a long time to actually become one. It doesn't help that I'm a perfectionist and everything I write takes me a Very Long Time.
Do you think travelling as much as you did helps when it comes to writing books?
In a roundabout way, yes (though perhaps the word 'helps' is superseded by the idea of 'has an effect on'. By which I mean that having travelled around so very much as a child I don't feel as if I come from any one place, or belong to any one place, and the effect on my writing is to never be very concerned with setting my work in a particular place or culture, leaving me free to think more about the emotional, rather than physical worlds in my work.
For the readers, can you give them a taste of what Fluffywuffy and the Mystery of the Disappearing Guest?
I like the embellished title you've given Fluffywuffy, but I'll stick to the regular one for convenience and brevity. As the author, I really think it's up to each and every reader to decide from themselves what anything I write is about, but for me it's (partly) about we choose to see, and what we choose to ignore, in order to get what we want. Just how much does Mr Moot not know what is going on? It's also (again for me at least) about gleefulness in the reading.
How did you come up with the idea of Fluffywuffy and the Mystery of the Disappearing Guest?
I love writing about unexpected arrivals (after all, so much of life is made up of that: you can't plan who is walking down the street towards you unless you're in a film!) and the way people react to them, and they react to us. I also like creating characters who are neither goodies nor baddies. (Is Fluffywuffy bad, or just doing what Fluffywuffies do? Is Cousin Clarence bad, or oblivious? Is Mr Moot innocent, or complicit, or oblivious too?) In a sense, I like writing questions in the form of stories.
Would you consider it harder to write children’s books, as there would be certain restrictions on things like the plot and certain words/phrases?
Every form of writing has its restrictions, but yes, those in picture books are often very clearly defined/identifiable. Does that make it harder? No. It just makes it what it is: a particular discipline to enjoy exploring and playing within the boundaries of, and occasionally trying to nudge those boundaries a bit to see if they need changing.
What do you use as inspiration while writing your books? Does it change when you are writing for different genres/audiences?
The way I work changes, but the inspiration stays pretty much the same: people and how we are inside; how we react to things depending on what sort of person we think we are. You must never forget that a writer is also a reader - not just of other people's work, but their own. I try and write in such a way that I can come to it as a reader and say 'that works' or 'that's ridiculous' or even, 'I wasn't expecting that!'. So my inspiration is, to a large degree, writing something I can enjoy as a reader, that I can discover more about as I go along, and that engages me. The rest of it is a love of language, and of story.
How would you like you and your books to be remembered?
I find that I am not really very interested in myself. I don't want to write an autobiography and I would be horrified at having someone write a biography of me. Perhaps 'remembered' is the wrong word? I would love my work to outlive me, and in doing so not need to be remembered because it's still out there, doing stuff. As for me, as I sit here writing this, the hope of that is easily enough.
What makes you want to write children books?
I guess I'm trying to give something (laughs, pleasure, thoughtfulness, ideas, debate, questions etc.) to the most open minded and receptive audience I know of.
Out of all the books you have written, what has been your favourite one (apart from Fluffywuffy and the Mystery of the Disappearing Guest)?
Favourites are a dangerous thing, but since you ask, The Thing by me and Daniel Egneus. (There should be an acute accent over the second 'e' but I can't find one...
Fluffywuffy is out now. Illustrated by Matt Robertson £11.99 Publisher Frances Lincoln Children’s Books