What a treat to interview David Baddiel – who’s written his first novel for children ‘The Parent Agency’ and who’s chosen our Festival for his first ever event for children. He will be at Hertford Theatre on 5th October at 11 a.m.
DAVID! TELL US HOW THIS BOOK CAME TO BE?
I tend to work from ideas themselves – and then I consider whether they’re best suited to film, a novel, tv – a musical. For ‘The Parent Agency’, I have to credit my son Ezra. He was 7 at the time (now he’s almost 10). We were at the Harry Potter tour in Hertfordshire and he said to me “Why doesn’t Harry just try to find better parents?”
There was the idea, right there. Both my children – Ezra and Dolly (13) contributed enormously to this book. They read it whilst I was writing it – it was important to me – not because they’re my kids, but because they are kids. Their response was crucial.
WHEN IT COMES TO WRITING FOR CHILDREN – WHAT DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT?
I’m simply inspired to try and write what a child wants to read. All classic children’s stories are those full of what kids fantasize about most - but also what they fear.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR WISH LIST FOR THE IDEAL PARENT?
My idea – for both genders would be to be funny (we’re all born with a sense of humour, it’s just so often its ground out of us), to be childlike (by that, I mean to be able to continue to think like a child well into adulthood), to be strong and brave (especially if faced with monsters). I think I’d score pretty highly – I’ll give myself a high 8/10
WOULD YOUR CHILDREN AGREE? WHAT WOULD THEY TRADE IN ABOUT YOU?
They’d probably trade me in for one that was less tired, and possibly one that was better dressed. Also, they’re mortified by my embarrassing tendency to stay inappropriate stuff out loud. At Ezra’s running club, there was a sweetie stall with really crummy packs of sweets. I said to Ezra –right there in front of the stallholder - “Would you like some sad sweets” He just couldn’t believe it.
Would my children ever really want to trade me in? I don’t think so – put it this way, I don’t think they look across the playground…
WHERE AND HOW DO YOU WRITE?
Mostly in my study at home which I love because it looks out over water. But needs must – so if I’m rehearsing or performing, I’ll try and write on location in breaks. Which I don’t recommend.
It’s busy – The Infidel The Musical opens at Stratford East Theatre the day before I come to Hertford Children’s Book Festival. However, I’m really excited – because I do have a new idea…
FAVOURITE BOOK AS A CHILD
I was very lucky. My parents were antique book collectors. My favourites were THE Billy Bunter stories.
OTHER WRITERS YOU ADMIRE?
JK Rowling – for turning a whole generation onto reading and capturing that primal fantasy for a child – namely magic
David Walliams - because he’s truly made ‘funny’ a prerequisite.
SALT & VINEGAR OR CHEESE & ONION?
Salt & Vinegar
BOOK OR KINDLE?
Argh! I resisted for 2 years – I even had one in the house which I didn’t use. But last holiday I truly discovered the joys of it.
DOG OR CAT?
Cat – we have four! There’s Pip – and her twins Tiger and Ron (names after Ron Weasley because he’s ginger) and Monkey who’s ancient.
FAVOURITE ICE CREAM?
This is going to sound hugely annoying – but it would have to be a poncey flavour like salted caramel.
Oh dear. I’d have to say it would be a swear word. I love a good swear! Oh dear….
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