I’m really excited about this week’s Author Interview! If you’ve read my most recent blog posts, then you’re aware that I attended the London Book Fair 2013 which turned out to be a very rewarding experience. Well, today in the hot seat is a man who was one of the speakers at LBF. Stuart Reid is a man whose life story would make for a great movie. His passion for improving literacy levels in children plus his generous and engaging persona made his presentation one of the stand-out memories for me at the London Book Fair. Stuart is a well known children’s book author in the United Kingdom and has read his books to more than 30,000 children! Please join me in welcoming Stuart Reid.
Tell us about your latest book and what format is it available in?
My second book Gorgeous George and the Zigzag Zit-faced Zombies came out in the shops in January. It’s available from all good book shops (and the rubbish ones too), as well as Kindle and other e-book formats I’m completely unaware of. I let my publisher deal with all that. I think there’s an app too (whatever an app is). It’s an everyday tale of bums, bogeys and big bottom burps, and takes place in the town of Little Pumpington, also the setting for my first book Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator. Presenting in schools, I came to realize that kids love zombies. They might be little but most of them have seen Shaun of the Dead or played zombie games on the internet so writing a zombie book for the under 12’s was a logical step.
What can a reader expect when they pick up a Stuart Reid book?
A spectacularly over-the-top storyline, lots of laughs and bucket loads of toilet humour. Poo, pee and pumps are universal and kids still laugh at the same stuff I used way back last century.
What do you love best about being a children’s book author?
I was a serious business professional for over 25 years before I realized that I’d stopped having fun. I thought the tie around my neck was stifling my creativity so when I finally decided to take it off my imagination just exploded out the top of my head. Now I can wear shorts everyday; I can be as silly as I like and I get paid for it. I lick poo nearly every day and I’ve bought my third whoopee cushion this year (I go through them quite quickly). After I’ve performed my 25 shows at the Edinburgh Festival, I’m going to try to work a slot into my new show where I will drink my own wee.
Where do you usually write your books?
Anywhere. I’m not restricted by needing perfect calm and stillness and a lovely view from my writing room balcony. When I’m in the zone, I take my laptop everywhere and I can shut out every distraction around about me.
What is the process from when you get an idea for a book to the point it gets published?
For me, it’s never a straight line. I always have dozens of ideas kicking around and usually several projects on the go at one time. I keep notes on every idea that leaps into my head and later on some of them will find a way into one of my books. Currently I have two books published, three with my publisher ready to go in the next 12 months, three e-book short stories coming out (first one is already out), one very serious adult book based on my next door neighbour’s dad diaries, as a POW in Germany, currently with three publishers and another children’s book that I’m not sure what will happen to it.
Do you believe in writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?
Writer’s block is probably different for every writer but I tend to blame myself for painting my plot into a corner. I’ve found that if I have a chat with my children, whilst wearing a large, and ridiculously stupid, sock puppet on my hand, the answer will always present itself. So far, this has always resulted in at least the next three or four chapters becoming perfectly clear.
What were some of your favorite books as a kid?
My favorite book when I was younger was The Twits by Roald Dahl. It’s so dark, the characters are so weird and I loved the thought of Mrs Twit feeding Mr Twit worms in his spaghetti. Gluing birds to branches, ripping off their feet and then baking them is inspired.
What has been the most successful way of marketing your books?
I believe that I am one of Britain’s most enthusiastic and inspirational presenters. I like to go out and meet my target audience face to face, tell them how fantastic my books are (and books in general) and then talk and talk and talk and talk to the children until they give up and promise to buy a copy.
How do you prepare for a presentation at a school?
I’ve started wearing Hawaiian shirts, which is always good fun. I also make sure I have enough false teeth and I finally wrap a balloon around one of my jobbies (if you are English and not sure what a jobby is, come to my show at the Edinburgh Festival in August).
What is the most memorable question you’ve been asked while doing a school presentation?
Have I ever been locked in a fridge?
What mistake(s) have you made while publishing your books that you would advise other authors against?
Never, ever give up your £100k job in Dubai, return to the UK and take a year off to write absolute nonsense for children, unless you are certifiably insane and prepared to allow your wife and children to go hungry and shoeless, as you follow ‘your dream’. One prerequisite to all of the above; belief and the love of a good woman.
There is a big debate going on about the virtues of self publishing versus traditional publishing. What’s your take on this debate?
The glut of self-published books is definitely lowering the overall standard of literature and perhaps risking the relationship and trust with their reader. A good self-published author should always be aware of the value in a strong recommendation and build up their fan-base through positive word-of-mouth. On the flip side, I am continually frustrated to see second rate actors and Z-list celebrities publishing their books through the traditional publishers, as the publishers jump on that ‘known brand’ commodity. The fact that everyone in Britain has a decent education means that the entire population think they can write a book. I had to laugh when Pippa Middleton’s book sold less than 500 copies, despite the fact that publisher paid her £400,000 advance. I should probably stop here, as in the last two paragraphs I may have upset self-published authors, the traditional publishing industry and the Royal family.
Toy Story or Shrek?
Shrek, without doubt. Anyone who farts in the bath always gets my vote.
Which are scarier, dragons or monsters?
Farts, poo or bogeys; which are the most disgusting? They’re not disgusting at all; for me, they are the source of limitless good fun. If you’re offended or disgusted by farts, poo or bogeys, and I laugh at them, at least we know that I’m a happier person.
Farts, poo or bogeys; which are the funniest to write about?
That’s unfair. That’s like asking me to choose between my children; I love them all as much but in different ways. My second book Gorgeous George and the Zigzag Zit-faced Zombies is pretty much about children eating their own bogeys, it’s something I see nearly every day in schools. i have a few chapters about poo and pumps in my first book bit I was holding myself back. Arthur Smith, one of the geezers on Grumpy Old Men, loves the line ‘wrapped in a blanket of rancid cabbages.’
What is a typical day for Stuart Reid?
Coffee, emails, school visits, coffee, Facebook, Twitter, a poo round about 11am, more coffee, emails, interviews, invoices, count my book sales and a large pile of cash, write my blog, Facebook again and a wee read of someone else’s book at bedtime.
Have your children inspired any of the characters you’ve written about?
My eldest girl is similar to Allison, in the Gorgeous George books. It wasn’t intentional but they are both opinionated and strong-willed but with a sensitive streak. Both Allison and my daughter are very sensible that way; girls are always more mature than boys. In fact, that doesn’t change into adulthood.
What can we expect from Stuart Reid in the next 24 months?
I’m working on a monthly series of Gorgeous George short stories released on various e-book formats as 99p pocket money book and there are three more Gorgeous George full length novels coming out. Snotasaurus is my first book aimed at a younger market and is due out in November. I love this one and have high hopes for it. Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator won the Silver Seal at the Forward National Literature Awards but I think Snotasaurus might pick up a few more prizes. I’ve already mentioned my show at the Edinburgh Festival and I’m hoping my POW War Diaries is published before the end of 2014.
Any advice for children book authors out there who are just starting out?
Never give up. If you have belief in your abilities and feedback is still good, keep going. It’s okay to change direction now and again but keep moving forward. Wow! Stuart my ribs are almost aching from that interview. I think I now see why you are one of the most popular presenters in the UK and kids love your books. It’s so clear to see that you love what you do and the awards and requests for your time are a clear testament to that. You can get a copy of Stuart’s books at your local bookstore and also order one online. You can see Stuart live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August. You can discover more about Stuart by visiting one of the links below
Website – www.stuart-reid.com
Twitter – @stuartreidautho
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/stuart.author
Feel free to drop a comment below or ask Stuart a question.