Ten minutes with Jeremy Strong chatting about writing for kids & his Brother’s Famous Bottom
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- Published on Friday, 14 July 2017 11:05
- Last Updated on 13 July 2017
- Monica Costa
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Jeremy Strong has done it again! The King of Comedy has written a brilliantly funny new book, My Brother’s Famous Bottom Makes a Splash, which is the perfect summer read! I have had a chat with him recently to talk about his writing career, his latest book, to ask him tips for aspiring authors and to find out what he is working on at the moment. Just a quick WARNING for when your kids (or yourself) will read this book:
THIS BOOK IS VERY FUNNY. Readers may experience:
Crying with laughter
The story in brief
Nicholas and his family are off on holiday to Turkey! But with Cheese and Tomato causing chaos with stray tortoises, Dad having to be rescued by the lifeguard, and Mum setting off the hotel sprinkler system with her belly-dancing routine, rest and relaxation are not on the cards!
RRP £5.99 / Puffin paperback
Age 7 – 11
Jeremy Strong once worked in a bakery, putting the jam into three thousand doughnuts every night. Now he puts the jam into stories instead, which he finds much more exciting. He loves writing stories because it’s ‘the only time you alone have complete control and can make anything happen’. His ambition is to make you laugh (or at least snuffle). Jeremy Strong lives near Bath with his wife, Gillie, four cats and a flying cow. Jeremy’s lifetime sales are OVER 7 MILLION and he is one of the top 20 most-borrowed children’s authors from UK libraries.
Q: Jeremy, you seem to lead a quiet life in Bath. where do you find the inspiration for so many hilarious gags and situations in your books?
JS: Much of the inspiration comes from my childhood, but of course it passes through the Imagination Machine before it enters into print. I often take things that have really happened, tweak them to fit the story and then, with no shame at all, exaggerate and add things that never happened at all. Sometimes I have really weird dreams: that helps. The ‘quiet life’ you refer to is my exterior life. You really wouldn‘t want to be inside my head!
Q: My brother’s famous bottom makes a splash is a very summery story. What do you think is the secret of the popularity of this series?
JS: The word ‘BOTTOM’ always helps! Having said that I do try to keep my bottoms under control. The popularity of the series lies, I think, in the apparently normal family. Mum, Dad, three children and Granny. That is also where the normality ends because as you know the family are far from normal and live the kind of harum scrum, crazy, exciting and unpredictable life that other children can then enjoy vicariously by reading the stories. Then of course there’s the humour. Also, some children, quite a large number, don’t like to be scared or excited by danger. In this respect the books are safe.
Q: Who is the person who has inspired you the most throughout your life and career and why?
JS: First and foremost I owe a lot to Miss Cox, who taught my class for two years, (Y3 and Y4). She said nice things about my stories at school. Much later I was hugely influenced by Dylan Thomas (for use of language) and comic poets like Ogden Nash, Spike Milligan and so on (for a very different use of language). I was also inspired by The Goon Show and Monty Python. All played their part.
Q: Any tips for aspiring writers?
JS: 1. Don’t give up on your dream. 2. Get your story off to a quick and gripping start. 3. Read it back to yourself OUT LOUD. That way you discover errors far more easily and also notice where you want to make changes that will make the story even better. 4. As a general rule, less is more. In other words, cut out any bits of your story that you don’t really need. A long story doesn’t make a good story. Good writing makes a good story.
Q: If you weren’t a writer or teacher what other profession would you have pursued?
JS: I would love to have been a professional artist or musician. When I finished school I had to decide on further education – would it be Art College, a music academy (eg R.A.M.) or university and an English course? I could have gone to any of those but I chose the last one. But I went on painting and playing music too.
Q: If you were King of Britain what would you do first?
JS: Abdicate! But I don’t think that’s what you mean. I would tell my government that Brexit should be reversed and that I wanted to see a much fairer and sensible distribution of wealth, with more money for public services, especially NHS, Education, Social Services and so on. I would push for wide ranging penal reform, especially of prisons. I would insist that British Summer Time was kept all year round and also make sure that the removal of organs from a dead person had to be an opt out system rather than the ridiculous opt in system we have here. I would ask the Education services to look carefully at the successful systems currently being used in Scandinavia and see how they might be used over here. I would legalise euthanasia for those that wish it. There – I think that nails my colours to the mast! In addition I would encourage all parents to read to their children at bedtime! Oh, finally, I would insist that all my books, including my back catalogue should be available in every primary, infant and junior school and all libraries.
Q: What are you up to next?
JS: I have a new book due out with Barrington Stoke quite soon – NELLIE CHOC-ICE, EXPLORER PENGUIN. I am also very pleased that David Fickling Books will be publishing a quite new and rather different set of stories (for my pen, that is to say,) called ARMADILLO AND HARE – SMALL STORIES FROM THE BIG FOREST. I love these little stories and I hope the public will too. It is due out early 2018 and I am really looking forward to this new venture.
Monica Costa founded London Mums in September 2006 after her son Diego’s birth together with a group of mothers who felt the need of meeting up regularly to share the challenges and joys of motherhood in metropolitan and multicultural London. London Mums is the FREE and independent peer support group for mums and mumpreneurs based in London https://londonmumsmagazine.com and you can connect on Twitter @londonmums