Friday, 7 December 2012

Friday Feature: Author Interview with Andy Briggs

Really pleased to present an interview with Andy Briggs, author of the excellent and series and of the superb Tarzan reboot (can't wait for book 3 in February!) amongst his many other talents!

1. When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

The most attractive, highly intelligent people on the planet! Actually, that’s an intriguing question. I write for myself - books, screenplays, comics - whatever they are, they are written for for me. I just hope that a wide range of people will enjoy my work, reflecting the fact that my tastes are extremely broad.

2. I've praised the Tarzan books because there's a really strong environmental message in them but it never comes at the expense of the action. How important is it to you that you get that message across?

The environmental message is vitally important. Personally, I don’t want any message shoved in my face, it should be subtly laced through a story. I like to become interested in a topic, then I will seek out further information myself. I only hope that there’s enough in my Tarzan books to open people’s eyes and give them a push in the right direction.

The Greystoke Legacy has an underlying theme involving illegal logging while The Jungle Warrior shifts focus on the illegal animal trade - the third biggest illegal activity in the world. The next installment, The Savage Lands, has coltan as a theme - something most people have never heard of, yet we all use.

3. You're multi-talented - as well as your Tarzan books, and series, you've written comics and started off writing for TV and film. Which type of writing is your favourite?

When I do a school visit, I never introduce myself as an “author”, I tell them I’m a writer. My passion is telling stories, and I am lucky enough to be able to write across a range of media to tell different tales. So, to answer the question, I don’t prefer one over the other - I enjoy them all equally. I do, however, enjoy writing a script (for example), the jumping into a book for the next project. I feel variety helps keep stories and ideas fresh!

4. Tarzan was originally published in 1912, making 2012 the 100th anniversary for the character. Why do you think he's still such a popular character a century on?

I have said elsewhere that Tarzan was the world’s first eco-warrior, a character more relevant now than a century ago - but the reason I think he is still so popular is that he represents a freedom within us all we still wish we possessed. How often have we been having a mundane day in work and longed to leap through the windows, jump across the rooftops or escape into the wild? Tarzan allows us a peek into the primeval instinct that our ancestors used every day, and is still hidden within us. Tarzan is in our DNA.

5. And on that note, if asked to pick one recent children's or teen novel that you think will still be loved in 100 years time, what would you go for?

I think, without a doubt, it would be Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. He’s such a fantastic character and Eoin brought that world alive with amazing clarity. Like Tarzan, I think there is something of Artemis in us all, the rogue that just wants to break convention and occasionally rule the world. I often feel like that.

Artemis Fowl is one of those series I really should get round to reading more of! Loved the first two and just haven't found time to read the rest yet.

6. It's been a great year for reboots - in addition to your own fantastic second book in the Tarzan series, Anthony McGowan has kicked off his sequel series to Willard Price's adventure books. Which classic children's book or series would you most like to see get an update?

I would love to read some new Biggles stories - whether they are new WWI or WWII epics or whether we see Biggles return as a jet fighter pilot, I don’t know. But he’s such a fun character that he could survive a makeover.

Seconded! I loved Biggles and it would be great to see some new stories.

7. One of my favourite things about the Tarzan series is the great location of a modern African setting. Have you been over to Africa for research purposes?

Of course! I thoroughly believe in research. Along with the jungle and savannas, I stood on the edge of active volcanoes (for books 2 and 3), explored underwater rivers and ancient ruins deep within the jungle (for book 3). I think it’s the only way a writer can capture the details that make locations feel real.

With each Tarzan book we donate a portion of the proceeds to EAZA’s (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) Ape charity. In January, Ape Action Africa are throwing me into the Cameroon jungle - essentially, I’m an Author, Get Me Out of Here - and we are doing a series of video blogs to show the plight of the apes, promote Tarzan, and raise awareness of the excellent charity. We aim to offer FREE video resources to schools and libraries across the country, which can be used in conjunction with the curriculum. There will be more details on my website in the coming weeks.

Sounds like it'll be fantastic - best of luck!

8. And on a similar note, what's your favourite location in someone else's books?

Middle Earth? Discworld? The choices are vast - but if I had to chose one single place, I would love to have a table at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - as described in Douglas Adam’s book of the same name.

9. What are you reading at the moment?

I have just started Michael Grant’s BZRK, then plan on reading Andy Robb’s GEEKHOOD.

I'm a huge fan of Grant's GONE series but haven't got round to BZRK yet. Andy Robb is on my 'to read' list as well!

10. What's next for Andy Briggs?

This summer we wrapped a movie I wrote and produced, currently called LEGENDARY, which will be out some point next year. There is a bundle of exciting TV shows and movies close to announcement and I have just finished a new stand-alone YA book. But who knows what will happen to any of these? One thing is for sure - TARZAN: THE SAVAGE LANDS is out February 7th. Then later in the year an animated TARZAN 3D movie hits the cinema. Next year will be another epic year for the ape-man.

Best wishes for all of those exciting projects, Andy! I look forward to reading and watching.

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