Book People: Andy Griffiths
Well this man obviously needs no introduction. Andy Griffiths is loved, loved, loved by young readers worldwide (and plenty of adults!) and in my humble opinion his books just keep getting better. I have particularly enjoyed his latest series with Terry Denton, the ‘Treehouse’ books. They are madness and brilliance personified and I’m yet to find a reader who has not enjoyed them. If you have a reluctant reader, Andy Griffiths is possibly the author to turn your child into a reader – and that is not something I say lightly. His books are clever, well written and he has captured the essence of what it feels like to be young. To read more about Andy, visit his excellent website. You can purchase any of of Andy’s books at his Booktopia author page.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Andy Griffiths
1. Tell us about your latest book.
It’s the latest in the Treehouse series, ‘The 39-Storey Treehouse’. Andy and Terry’s amazing treehouse has 13 new levels including a chocolate waterfall, a non-erupting active volcano, an opera house, a baby-dinosaur petting zoo, Andy and Terry’s Believe it or Else! museum, a not-very-merry merry-go-round, a boxing elephant called the Trunkinator, an X-Ray room, a disco with light-up dance floor, the world’s scariest roller-coaster and a top secret 39th level that hasn’t even been finished yet!
2. How did you get started as a writer?
I’ve always loved writing ever since I was old enough to hold a pen. I was constantly filling up exercise books with stories, jokes, cartoons, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, bubblegum cards … anything that came my way. I wrote funny stories to entertain my friends at school. These eventually turned into funny song lyrics which led to my friends and I forming a band in which I became the vocalist. Eventually my song lyrics started turning into little stories which I self-published in the form of books which I sold at markets around Melbourne.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
It normally begins around 6am. I read for an hour, go for a bike ride or a swim, have breakfast and then am normally at the desk by around 9.00am. I usually write until around 2-3pm in the afternoon and then spend an hour or two answering letters and email. Then I’ll get on my rollerblades and post my letters. Evenings are spent either watching inspiring movies or comedy shows along with more reading.
4. Can you describe your workspace for us?
It’s a room filled with hundreds of my favourite books and comics along with my embarrassingly large crazy toy collection. There’s quite a lot of stuff including plastic dinosaurs, Batman helmets, plaster fish, fake bums, skittles, voodoo dolls, skulls, skeletons and my old 1920’s Underwood typewriter that I wrote all my early stories on. When I go into the room I feel like I’m twelve years old again and it inspires me to write the sort of things that I would have enjoyed back then.
5. Any words of advice for young readers and writers?
Get an exercise book and write in it every day… five minutes a day to start with, and gradually increase to at least thirty minutes a day. You get better at writing like you get better at everything else—through constant practice. A good idea is to write the sort of stories that you love to read because, without realising it, you know a lot about this particular type of story and how it is supposed to work. My latest book Once Upon a Slime: 50 fun ways to write stories … fast! has lot of writing tips.
6. Do you have a favourite book or character?
It’s usually the one that I’m working on, but they’re all different and I like them all for different reasons. But I think The 13-Storey Treehouse is my favourite as it combines elements of all of the other types of books that Terry and I have written. In fact we liked it so much that in 2012 we added another 13 levels and wrote The 26-Storey Treehouse. And then we added ANOTHER 13 levels and The 39 Storey Treehouse will come out in September 2013.
7. If you were not a creator of books for young people what would you be?
Either an English teacher or a stand-up comedian or, worst of all, a combination of both!
8. What is your favourite food to eat and/or your favourite music to listen to whilst you are working on your books?
I’m pretty fond of banana smoothies and I love alternative music so both these things are features of my working day.
9. How much of yourself or people you know is in your books?
Some of them are named after real people, for instance Andy, Danny and Lisa in the Just Series, but they are greatly exaggerated versions of the real-life Andy, Danny and Lisa. Generally my characters are a mixture of traits from different people and different parts of myself.
10. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be?
That every child could grow up finding at least one book that they really love and that will keep them company for the rest of their lives.