This is the WASTED BLOG. For my main author website, click this link.

Awards: WASTED won the Read it or Else category in the Coventry Award and was runner-up in the North East Book Award. It is longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Manchester, Grampian, Angus, and RED Awards.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010


I got chatting to a children's author, Andrew Strong, recently. I'd seen something he wrote on the Awfully Big Blog Adventure blog and I was attracted by the title of the post, GOOD LUCK. And if you've been reading about Wasted, you'll know just why that struck me. He talks about coincidences, chance, luck, and miracles.

I thought: here's a man who is fascinated by chance, just like me, and he's talking about a book, so what's his book like? Well, it's aimed at quite young children and it's called Oswald and the End of the World. I thought I'd ask Andrew about it. Let's have a bit of a rest from heavy teenage stuff and relax with a beautiful picture book. We deserve it after all our deep philosophy and science. (Mind you, Andrew's book is still deep - never make the mistake of thinking that simple can't be deep...)

NM: Hello, Andrew, and thanks for dropping by. Can you tell us what gave you the idea for Oswald? Is this something that's fascinated you for a long time? 
AS: Part of me is like Oswald's father - I want to be able to predict the future. It's a very childish way to be: that instead of working to make the future better, just cross your fingers, or touch wood. When I realised Oswald's father was going to be so childish, then it became obvious that Oswald himself had to be the rational adult. And so the idea for the book was born - a clear thinking, practical boy, with a fortune telling, slightly unhinged father.
NM: Do you think people "make their own luck"? Or is it entirely "random", pure chance?
AS: It's both. People who work at things don't always succeed, but it is much rarer that people who choose to do nothing ever get what they want. I think there is a third option, however. That like migrating birds, or spawning salmon returning home, we have instincts that make us do things that later we try to see as being thought through, but probably weren't. [NM: Mmm, I think that's what Jack does in Wasted.]
NM: Have you ever had your fortune told / would you ever? Do you know anyone who has and who has changed something they've done because of it?
AS:My grandmother used to read tea leaves. My father used to use dowsing rods to predict the winners of horse races. I once met a clairvoyant who told me I had an aura, and that I could see the future if I wanted to. I'm not sure I do.
NM: In "Oswald and the End of the World" Oswald's father believes he can control the future. He sees signs in snail trails and seaweed. Do you do things like this yourself - see signs in things?
AS: Yes, all the time, although I have learnt to ignore them. I think we often choose which signs to take notice of and which to ignore.[NM: Very true!]
NM: So, do you think you're mostly a scientist / rationalist or mostly a dreamer / wonderer?
AS: I'm both, absolutely. I swing from one to the other and am sometimes both, or neither, at the same time. I refuse to make up my mind.
NM: I'm asking everyone to think about small "chance" events or decisions that have changed their lives in big / unpredicted ways - do you have any examples form your own life?
AS: When my children were quite small I decided to move us all out of the city and into a rambling old house in the middle of nowhere. I thought it would be good fun. I thought less about this decision than when I've bought a new jacket. It was a good decision, however, and we've lived in this house for over ten years. My mother grew up in the war and was told she would have to be evacuated to Canada. On the day she was due to leave she had toothache and wasn't allowed to go. The ship she was to sail on was torpedoed and sunk. If it wasn't for that toothache, me, nor brothers or sisters, nor my children, would be here today.
Wow. That was one important toothache. Incredible story.

Thank you, Andrew - really, really interesting. Just shows how much goes into a picture book - and there's something for us all in there.

WASTED BLOG TOUR - WHERE TODAY? Over at Rhianareads and I can't remember for the life of me what I was talking about so I'll have to head over there myself...

Also, yesterday I was on Vanessa Robertson's blog at the Edinburgh Children's Bookshop, talking about how horrible it can be for an author going into a bookshop. She said I could be snarky - hooray!

Please do visit them and leave comments. And do tell me what you think of Oswald and the End of the World.


catdownunder said...

I suspect I will like Oswald and his father....and, just by the way, I think the world tends to be more Tails than Heads - we cats would like to believe it was the other way around but we understand that humans (including the human writing this for me) find it very hard to be sensible, rational beings.

JP - The Mistress of Corgi Manor said...

Charming! And a delight to find quality, fresh writing for children.

Jennifer Perry
madameperryssalon * bark Of Love