As promised, (albeit heavily postponed), here is the interview I recently carried out with the spiffing young chap*, Ivan Brett, author of  ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’

Enjoy…

 
1) Welcome, Ivan; first let me just say congratulations on the publication of ‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’. It’s a great read and I’m glad to see it’s getting the attention and praise it deserves.

Hi David! Thanks so much, I’m really proud of it.

 
2) Tell us a little bit about yourself; how you got the idea for Casper, what you were doing before and during your writing journey, stuff like that.

I was a philosophy undergraduate at Bristol University when felt the call to start writing. It came as a reaction to feeling slightly underwhelmed by parts of my course and desperately wanting to create something. So, on holiday in Cornwall, when an idea for a funny platform for some kids’ stories came to me I latched onto it. By the end of the day I had Corne-on-the-Kobb fully formed and bubbling away inside my head. The concept of a village of idiots is just great fun, and that’s all that matters in the end.

 
3) Now, be honest… some of the idiotic stuff written in the book seems too real to be made-up; is the book semi-autobiographical by any chance? What’s the most idiotic thing you’ve ever done?

What are you trying to say? 😛 No, I’ve done some pretty idiotic things in my life but none of them have reached the pages of Casper Candlewacks. It’s impossible to rank all my life’s actions in order of idiocy, but recently I went to bed really early and got up at 8:00 for breakfast, except it was the wrong 8:00, so the rest of my house were having supper. I do stuff like that surprisingly often.

 
4) Likewise, is there a bit of Lamp, Casper’s hopeless would-be inventor friend in you? Have you ever tried to come up with the world’s next big invention? Or are you a DIY Disaster?
 

Oh no, I’m not an inventor. Sorry to disappoint you! The best thing I’ve ever made was a wonky table. I make a lot of stuff in my head but it’s a relief to everyone I know that it never gets further. You should see me wire a plug (actually you shouldn’t. The last person who did is still in the NHS queue for a new set of eyebrows.)

5) Since we’re rolling through the characters – The Great Tiramisu; was a magician your first idea for a villain (if he can be called that)? Are you as mad about magic as I am? If you could perform any illusion, which would it be?

The Great Tiramisu didn’t start off as a villain, actually. He only entered the story as a funny instigator for the curse. But as the whole thing came together I realised we needed a stereotypical Italian smarmy hate-figure for Casper to make that terrible mistake that sets the story into motion.

As for the magic, I’ve got a few tricks that’d be useful to learn. For example, if there’s a tiger who’s about to eat me I’d love to know how to turn his teeth squidgy. Survival magic, that’s what I want to learn.

 
6) Take us through the Ivan Brett writing process (‘Available in 4 installments of just £39.95!’); how long did it take from concept to drafts to publication?

I haven’t discovered my ‘process’ yet. I try to work 9-5, I work on a laptop in coffee shops, parks, pubs, libraries or bed. I’ve spoken to authors who can write 5,000 words in a night or get three chapters done on their olive green typewriters before breakfast. Perhaps that sort of thing will come, but who knows. Once your hobby becomes your job it’s never as easy as you expect.

‘Casper Candlewacks in Death by Pigeon!’ took two and a half years from concept to publication. I wrote about 18 drafts in all, which seems like loads but that’s just how publishing works.
 
7) What’s an average day in the Brett household? Anywhere near as mad as the Candlewacks’ residence?

I’ve had a couple of housemates who’d quite easily fit into Corne-on-the-Kobb, but I couldn’t tell you about them on the internet. No way. My home life’s actually very calm, except that I sing to myself quite a lot. I need pets or children or something.

 
8) What does the future hold for Casper and Lamp?

Ooh, they’ve got some pretty exciting adventures over the next four books. Cat burglars, stolen bejewelled swords, evil French food critics, a boffin invasion and a time machine. Listing them like that, even I want to read my next books!

 
9) Did you know you can make pigeons explode by feeding them fizz? They can’t pass wind either way, so they just pop! (The book would have turned out very differently had the residents of Corne-on-the-Kobb turned guerilla in the face of their feathered threat…)

I have heard that, actually. But I’ll let you try it first.

10) Finally, any words of inspiration and wisdom to all the budding authors (myself included) out there…?
 
I’m no good at these bits because I generally think profundity is just a mix of tautology and truism hidden behind lots of shiny ribbons. So, erm, how about this: as long as you’re enjoying writing you’re doing it write. See what I did there?
 
 
Thanks, Ivan, for that great first interview! Here’s to many more…
 
Stick around for a review on ‘Invisible Fiends: Mr Mumbles’, by Barry Hutchison!
 
Dave
 
* – I can call him that cos I’m actually older than him. Young whippersnapper!
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