I’m Sam Gayton, author of a middle grade adventure called His Royal Whiskers, which is out in January.
How would you describe your latest book to someone who has never read your work before?
It’s a fairy tale with a giant cat, and a secret princess, and a journey to the underworld, and a talking severed head, and a top secret grandma, and reincarnation, and a murder mystery so fiendishly tricky that even Sherlock couldn’t solve it.
Which storyline/character/book that you’ve written has been your favourite?
I really enjoyed beheading one of my **spoiler alert klaxon** main characters. Mwa ha ha ha!
Where do you get your inspiration from for your characters and stories?
For this story, I was inspired by Russian folklore, and writers like Terry Jones and Terry Pratchett. So, all the Terrys. Especially Ivan the Terrible.
Has your latest book ended the way you thought it would?
Oh, it changed a lot. But in a way, it didn’t change at all, because it led me round in one big circle, right back to the first book I ever wrote (called The Snow Merchant). The end of my newest story is the beginning to my oldest one. #POETIC
How long does it take you to write a book?
This story took just over four years to write.
That’s, two weeks for the initial draft.
Three and a half years of agonised rewrites.
And half a year of spell-check.
The agonised rewrites are the fun bit!
What do you do when you’re procrastinating over writing?
I generally read, and play computer games… A really great one recently called ‘The Banner Saga’ was inspired by Norse Myths, so I could *almost* pretend that it was research.
What are you currently reading, and what will be next off your TBR pile?
I’m reading a grown-up ghost story called The Loney.
I don’t have a TBR pile. It’s too much fun perusing bookshops and shelves – I have to do it after each book.
What would you pick as the best part of being an author? And in contrast, the worst?
Best part – visiting schools and children. Getting letters from people who like your stories.
There really isn’t a worst part.
Maybe spotting a typo in a book you’ve published.
Was there a particular book or author that made you want to become a writer?
The Iron Man, by Ted Hughes.
Redwall, by Brian Jacques.
The Saga of Erik the Viking by Terry Jones.
Dinosaurs and All That Rubbish! by Michael Foreman.
Stories that haunted me as a child, and haunt me still.
What character or series do you wish you could have come up with?
Harry Potter, obvs!! I am too Slytherin to come up with something so awesome though, I probably would have just stolen JK’s laptop if I’d have known what she was writing in that little cafe in Edinburgh.
Seriously, though. Harry Potter. A whole world that people want to live in. A whole generation of children reading. It doesn’t get better than that.
You’re going to take a week off and do all your favourite things… what are they?
In no particular order, I’d:
*light a fire in my stove
*read a brilliant fantasy story
*play board games
*walk a dog
*attend a wedding with a top quality disco
*drink two beers every night
*eat some damn fine middle eastern food
*be in New York
*just have a laff
Just realised I haven’t included writing in that list.
So I’ll add:
*feel itchy-fingered on day 6 and jot down some new ideas for a story
Is there something you’d like to achieve in the literary world that you haven’t yet?
A brilliant author I know, called Adam Gidwitz, got to write a Star Wars story book. I would LOVE to do that. Just in case any Disney executives are reading this.
What are you working on next?
Like, top secret.
Has Sam Gayton gone?
Don’t tell him I told you this, but…
You know his top secret new book?
There’s a mouse called Klaus in it.
That’s all I got for you so far.
I’m working on more intel as we speak.