Hello all and welcome!
It was an absolute honour to be asked by the wonderful Jim (@YaYeahYeah) to be a part of this month long blog tour for all of the titles coming to bookshops on May 7th!
Are we sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin!
First off, a video featuring the marvellous Phil Earle telling us more about his book, and also a review from me for Demolition Dad!
It is an absolute pleasure to be a part of this so, without further ado, here is my interview with Phil!
Your previous books, while containing a thread of humour, have been a lot more emotionally wrought. What was it that inspired the change to writing for younger readers and going for that humour so strongly?
Apart from being branded the most miserable man in YA you mean?
I found Demolition Dad to sit right up there with some of my favourites of the books you’ve written. Where did the idea come from? What was the real driving force behind Demolition Dad?
Thank you George, most kind.
Demolition Dad started with Dahl’s ‘Danny, The Champion of the World’.
I’d been reading it at bedtime with my eldest son, Albie, and we both felt kind of bereft when we finished it.
I love that book. People often talk about ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’ or ‘The Twits’, but for me, none of them can hold a torch to Danny.
It isn’t riotous or doesn’t play with language in the way ‘The BFG’ does, but the relationship between Danny and dad is just so perfectly drawn.
Both me and Albie found it incredibly moving. So much so, that I found it hard to move on from it, and decided in fact to use it as a template for a new father and son novel, where dad has a secret, but obviously it couldn’t be poaching again…
This is where the wrestling came in. I LOVED wrestling as a kid (watching, not doing). I loved the drama, the costumes, the personas and the sheer ridiculousness of it all. My dad always used to tell me no good would ever come out of me watching it, but actually, for this story it was the perfect device. It gives something to hang the humour off…
I love Jake as a character, I think he absolutely flies off the page with a unique and funny voice. But it is more than just Jake we experience over the course of Demolition Dad. Who were your favourite characters to write and how did they come about?
I’m really pleased you mentioned the range of characters, as many of them will get their own stories in the future. The bully, Masher Milner for example, may be a peripheral character in Jake’s book, but his time is coming.
I hope to tell a story for every kid that lives on Storey Street, that’s the ambition…I love the notion of there being a great story behind every front door.
The rubbish wrestlers that dad fights in the book were also excellent fun to come up with. When I was growing up, American wrestlers were so cool. they were physically fit, with tough, enticing names like ‘Hulk Hogan’ and ‘The Ultimate Warrior.’
Our wrestlers in Britain were nothing like that. Take our most famous fighter, ‘Big Daddy’. He must have been sixty years old, weigh twenty five stone and his real name was Shirley Crabtree. I mean come on!?! How is that meant to be intimidating?
For the sake of the story though, that kind of detail was precious, it sums up the kind of fun I was able to poke at the subject.
The relationship between Jake and his dad is so sweet and heartwarming, definitely not something we see enough of in younger fiction. What was it that inspired you to want to write that father-son relationship?
I’m very lucky as my old man is an absolute legend. The book is dedicated to him.
In my twenties I had a few problems with my head and my folks really did have to step in and look after me for a while. It was a difficult time, for them as well as me, but their love and support was absolutely unconditional.
There’s no doubting this book is a love letter to my dad. I really hope that when he reads it, he sees that. That Jake and George are really me and him.
The collaboration with Sara Ogilvie is absolutely inspired. She adds a whole new level to a work that is already sparkling. What was it like working with her? Did you always know that Demolition Dad was going to be illustrated?
I’ve been a mahoosive fan of Sara for years, as I worked on her first couple of picture books whilst at Simon & Schuster. For me, she is the most exciting illustrator we have in the UK right now, as she has this incredible ability to capture both humour and trickier emotions too. I wanted DD to be funny, but I wanted it to have real heart too. Sara manages that perfectly and effortlessly.
The other exciting part about working with Sara is that we weren’t prescriptive about what she drew. We left it to her. What I love about this is that it made it a true collaboration. She adds SO MUCH to the story that wasn’t in the text. And I’m stupidly grateful to her for that.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a published author.I never wanted to be a writer. I wanted to play football for Hull City. But at the age of eleven I developed a tragic and lifelong addiction to bags of Frazzles that saw my footie ambitions destroyed.After putting my head back together in my mid twenties I got a job in a bookshop, just to pay the bills, and was shoved in the kids section as no-one else would do it. My boss pushed a copy of Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ in my hand, and that was it. I was in love. There was only one thing I wanted to do after that.I wrote in every spare minute I had. It wasn’t a quick process. I was writing, on and off, for the best part of ten years. Nearly everyone told me to give up and start knitting. Fortunately I look terrible in chunky knits…
What books inspired you growing up? Do you have an all time favourite?
I didn’t really read as a kid. There was too much football to be played. I loved comics though, especially ‘Roy of the Rovers’. 32 pages of comic strips about footie, every week. Sweet lord it was heaven.
What was the last great book you read?
The last truly great book was Jennifer Niven’s ‘All The Bright Places’. Reading that book made me so pleased I’m not writing YA at the moment. I think it’s a game changer. Truly magnificent.
Now onto some quick fire questions!
Coffee or Tea?
Builders tea, always. Coffee sends me loopy.
Books or Movies?
Movies. I’m still a reluctant reader…(plus you can learn a lot about writing from watching films)
Comedy or Angst?
I love a good blub. I won’t lie. Writers who can do both simultaneously are the true greats (see Morris Gleitzman for details)
Winter or Summer?
Writing by hand or typing?
On the laptop. On the bus. Top deck, front row of the X68.
Billy or Daisy? 😉
JAKE OR BILLY?! (I don’t know if this is an intense question for you, but it is for me! haha!)
Enough now Lester, enough!!!
That’s like asking me which of my three kids I like best…and I don’t like any of them!! (joke)
Who would win in a fight Demolition Man or Superman?
Oh I think George could take him. He’d find a way and fight dirty…
And to close;
Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?
Your mention of Superman is the perfect lead in as I’m editing the second book set on Storey Street, called ‘Mouse The Mighty’. Readers meet Mouse in DD, as he is Jake’s best pal.
Mouse is desperate, DESPERATE to be be a superhero, but he has no powers. However, all this changes when his mum, a lollipop lady, inadvertently foils a bank robbery. She’s branded a new kind of superhero, and every superhero needs a sidekick…
My youngest son, Stanley (named after Flat Stanley and Stanley Yelnats) is four and is still convinced he is a superhero. He was the perfect inspiration…
And finally, for budding writers out there, what is the best piece of advice you could give?
Don’t blame a lack of time for not writing, there’s no such thing, only a lack of motivation.
Finding time proves you want it, and to me, proves you ARE a writer…