Sunday, 8 January 2012

Trevor Forest Book Giveaway

I’m kicking off the 2012 Author Interviews with a chat and book giveaway from Trevor Forest (known also as Trevor Belshaw to his friends and various Nottingham authorities).

Trevor has stepped forward with only the slightest of shoves in the back and is offering one lucky Writers’ Checklist reader the chance to get their hands on a signed copy of his latest children’s book Stanley Stickle Hates Homework.

To be in with a chance of winning Trevor’s book just leave a comment telling us your own best excuse for not handing in that homework and we'll pick the most inventive.

Competition is open until Sunday 15 January 2012
Trevor, tell us (in no more than 20 words!) what Stanley Stickle Hates Homework is all about.
Stanley doesn’t like homework and he’ll do anything to get out of it. Literally anything, even if it involves Girls.

Your previous children’s books have been aimed at girls. Was it a conscious decision to write one for boys this time around?
I think Stanley can be read by both boys and girls. In fact, the lovely feedback I’ve had so far has been mainly from girls. I did take a conscious decision to create a male lead character after the reading coordinator at a local school asked me if I had written anything that would attract boys, especially reluctant readers. She said the book would need to be quite short, and really funny. Well, it is short… and hopefully funny. That’s for others to decide.

Did you have the complete plot mapped out before you began writing?
Yes and no. I try to work out the main idea in my head before writing anything down. Once I do start, it takes on a life of its own and I just let it take me anywhere it wants to take me within reason. I do try to keep within certain parameters these days. I’m not one for forming character lists and back stories. In a new book I like the characters to be as fresh to me as they are to the reader. As the series goes on I will probably have to be a little more careful to keep them consistent, but with a new book I just like to let them speak to me.

The kissing scene wasn’t planned at all really. I think it popped into my head one evening when I was eating chili and rice. I burst out laughing, spat the mouthful I was eating over the dog and I had to run to the computer to get it down while it was fresh in my mind. The dog didn’t mind. She likes chili and got to have the rest of the bowl while I was out of the room.

How do you choose your character’s names and why hasn’t there been a super-heroine called Maureen?
I tend to go for older or quite obscure names for my characters so Maureen might appear as a super heroine one day. I have a favourite web page with lists of old-fashioned names on it. If I can’t find one there I’ll try one of the numerous baby names websites. I always end up with three or four possibilities. Peggy Larkin was the only one that sprang directly to mind when I was working out the initial plot. It just seemed to fit the time I was writing about.

Faylinn Frost was an amazing find. I was writing about a frozen fairy kingdom and happened to look at a Gaelic dictionary of girl’s names to try to find something that might fit. Fairies are big in Celtic legend. Faylinn was in there. The name means Fairy Kingdom. All I had to add was the word frost and I had a character’s name that translated to Cold Fairy Kingdom, which is exactly what the book is about. 
Stanley Stickle started out as Godfrey Good, but I was never really happy with it so I gave a few of my author friends a multiple choice question on Twitter and Stanley was the name that came out top. He was very nearly Stanley Stickley though.

Did you also hate homework and what was your most inventive excuse for not doing it?
I wasn’t a big fan. I once said I’d dropped my English composition book in the fish tank and I daren’t put my hand in to get it out in case I was electrocuted. That didn’t work. I got an extra dollop of English homework, a lecture on looking after school property, an hour’s detention and I had to pay for a new book out of my pocket money. 

After that excuse, I couldn’t really take a dog-eared, but perfectly dry book back to school. We didn’t have a fish tank anyway. We had a goldfish bowl with a miracle fish in it; a fairground prize that survived for more than a week.

The book is hugely funny – you must laugh a lot while you’re writing. Do your neighbours wonder what you’re getting up to?
My wife does sometimes. But she mostly just shakes her head and lets me get on with it. I do laugh a lot when I’m writing. I know it’s said that you shouldn’t laugh at your own jokes but I have never let that stop me. The more ridiculous the scene, the louder I laugh. I have to stop myself pushing the scene to the limit. I’d still laugh but it might be a bit over the top for readers.

You also write for adults. How difficult is it to switch from that to children’s writing?
It’s a different mindset. When I write for children, I try to put myself in the middle of the action. I try to remember what it was like inside my ten-year-old head. It’s a strange place to be, believe me. From there it’s not too hard to come back. I just need to make a strong cup of coffee and shake my head a few times to clear the chaos of my juvenile thoughts. When I write for adults, I’m never part of the scene. I’m just directing it.

Did you have a clear picture in your mind of what Stanley looked like before your cover artist came up with the final design?
Not really. All my covers come directly from Marie’s imagination. (Marie Fullerton) I only give her basics like age, height, etc. She reads the book and comes up with the artwork. She’s brilliant. I did say I wanted thick curly hair for Magic Molly but that was the only time I’ve been that specific.

Apart from Stanley, who’s your favorite character in the book?
Soppy Sonia. She was so much fun to write. I laughed all the way through that chapter. (Once I’d finished choking on the mouthful of chili and rice.) She’ll be back in future books for sure.

So, there are going to be more Stanley Stickle adventures?
The next two are in my head, mapped out in general terms. The follow up will be called Stanley Stickle Does Not Have A Girlfriend. It will tell of Stanley’s struggles to rid himself of the limpet-like Soppy Sonia. It will be a huge struggle too and he’ll need a few more of his cunning plans to achieve his aim.

The third book will be called Stanley Stickle On Stage, or something like that. It will tell how Stanley gets roped into appearing in the school production of Oliver and his desperate attempts to be thrown off the project.

I’m not sure which one will be written first as I have more ideas for the third book than the second at the moment. But they’ll appear in order, hopefully this year.

Trevor Forest lives in Nottingham. 
A published author and poet, he writes articles and fiction as T. A. Belshaw and his hilarious book Tracy's Hot Mail is to be published later this month with Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

Trevor's Amazon page HERE
Buy Trevor's books in print HERE


wyantebay said...

Heres my best shot:

Well you see I had my homework and I was about to do it. It was such a pretty day I just had to sit out in the sun on the trampoline and I was watching my little sister. Then Maya, the stinker she is, threw my nook that was laid right beside me off the trampoline and into a pile of dog waste.
When I went to tell my parents they screamed at you and ground me from my computer which had your homework saved on it.

Patsy Goodsir said...

Hi Trevor,
A comment on reasons for not doing homework. (always hated it)

Decided to bin my homework because I didn't want to upset all my chums who would feel so inadequate when they saw how wonderfully detailed and simply excellent my efforts were.

Trevor said...

Thanks for entering my little competition. The winner is Patsy. I'll be in touch to ask for details shortly.

Trevor Forest

Rebecca Emin said...

Great interview, Trevor and Maureen!