This is a very special day for me, because it's my first ever double interview! I approached Jackie Marchant, who helped put Dougal Trump's 'scribblings' together to form the wonderful I'm Dougal Trump... And It's Not My Fault in the hope of getting an interview with her. Not only did she accept, she also introduced me to the boy who some people are calling 'a modern day William Brown' and he was kind enough to also answer some questions. I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I did!
1. When you close your eyes and imagine Dougal's readers, what do you see?
I love to imagine a child curled up with their nose in the book and a big grin on their face. If they’re laughing, even better! I was recently sent a photo of someone’s daughter reading the book with a big smile, and that was a real pleasure to see.
2. Dougal is a great main character and narrator and you've done a fabulous job of turning his scribbles into a book! Some of his friends and family are also really memorable, though - other than the boy himself, do you have a favourite?
Thank you, I had a lot of fun turning Dougal’s scribbles into a book! Apart from Dougal, my favourite character is Claude. I love him because, although he’s not the brightest of the bunch (actually none of them are really), he’s completely happy as he is. And Dougie and his friends accept him exactly as he is.
Definitely agree - Claude is a wonderful character!
3. Any chance of a spin-off series? I'd love to see the story from Sibble's point of view, if she's written anything you could grab from her!
Well, Dougal did manage to get hold of (I think there was some theft involved) Sibble’s diary. He’s put extracts up on his website, although you might have to join his fan club to get hold of them. I don’t have any plans for spin-offs at the moment, but you never know.
Heading over to the website as we speak, I'm excited to see those extracts!
4. When you were young, what books did you really enjoy reading?
I remember reading through the whole Beatrix Potter box set when I was very young. I also adored Winnie the Pooh. Then it was Famous Five and Narnia, as well as just about any comic I could get hold of. Then the Hardy Boys and Willard Price. From then on it was adult books, such as Agatha Christie, John Wyndham and Jean Plaidy, as there was no YA around then. That was when I read To Kill a Mockingbird and Lord of the Rings, which remain amongst my favourite books of all time (along with Winnie the Pooh!).
Mixed feelings on those personally - my views on LotR and Narnia are fairly well-known (and at odds with most readers, admittedly!) but I enjoyed the Hardy Boys and love Agatha Christie, To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favourites of all time, and Willard Price is a wonderful author who doesn't get anywhere near enough recognition. (Have you read Anthony McGowan's excellent Leopard Adventure? It's the first in his new series following the next generation of Hunts! He was kind enough to give me an interview about it, as well.)
5. Are you planning on moving on from helping Dougal with his books to writing your own fiction?
As a matter of fact I also write YA fantasy. My first is looking for a home at the moment,
while I’m working on a YA fantasy set in space.
Good luck finding homes for them, I'd love to read them!
6. Obviously, nothing in that book was your fault. Is there anything you've ever done in your life which you do want to take responsibility for?
Well, yes I suppose there are some things that were my fault, but I hope you don’t mind if I don’t tell you what, because no one knows yet. In the meantime I’d better say that nothing is ever my fault.
7. I know some authors like listening to music as they write their books. Are there any songs or groups you listened to a lot while you were writing during the time you were grounded?
That’s an interesting question. When I’m grounded, I normally make my own noise protesting my innocence and letting everyone know how unfair it is. Then I’ll be looking out of my window and spying on the neighbours. Now I’ve got my own computer, I can spend the time on Twitter and Facebook, telling everyone about my unfair grounding.
I love your tweets! A great way to pass the time when you're grounded, I'm sure.
8. As those of us who've read the book will know, you could perhaps be described as 'accident-prone'. Which of the injuries you've suffered so far in your life do you think was the worst?
I suppose the broken arms were the worst, because I couldn’t play in goal with them. But they are also good, because I get let off homework for a while. And my cut foot has been difficult, because Mum won’t let me out until the stitches are out – that’s because I played football and burst the stitches and she had to take me to A and E yet again.
9. Would you rather win a major cup with Stamford United or have your book
reach the top of the best-seller lists?
That’s a tough one! But I don’t think I’m getting quite the right coaching to make the Stamford United team, so that probably won’t happen. BUT the book has already been shortlisted for an award (hooray!), so maybe it will be a bestseller!
10. What's next for Dougal Trump?
I’m just about to go out and play football.
11. I thought you weren’t allowed out because of your foot?
Oh. In that case I’d better get all the notes and stuff together for my next book, which is all about my beautiful pet tarantula called Sybil and some other amazing creatures. It’s out next May and it’s going to be called ‘I’m Dougal Trump – where’s my Tarantula?’
Shame about the football, but I'm looking forward to the new book! Best of luck with it, Dougal.
Thanks very much to Jackie and Dougal for taking time to answer my questions.