Hi Andy, welcome to the Teen Librarian Eight Questions With… interview! The first thing I usually ask is for interviewees to introduce themselves but I think that you are so well known that I will instead ask you to introduce LIQUIDATOR.
LIQUIDATOR unites a number of child-heroes: the weak, the strong, the dim, the brilliant…and I send them happily off on a week of work-experience. My characters soon go way beyond their placements, however, working to expose a multi-national corporation that’s threatening the world – and this isn’t 007 land, by the way, where the villains are psychopathic criminals. My villain is real. It’s developing a so-called health drink that will addict a new generation to sugars, steroids and caffeine: a performance enhancing health-drink with a billion-dollar marketing campaign, and a history of very dubious medical trials in the developing world – the stuff of fact, in other words.
The second question is… what would you do if you found out something bad… something really bad?
I’d walk away very quickly and pretend I hadn’t seen it. Sorry, but I’m a coward and I don’t like conflict.
Did you ever participate in a work experience scheme in school?
For some reason, no – I went to a grammar school in the seventies when all we did was learn by rote and sing ‘Jerusalem’. I used to supervise such weeks, when I was a teacher – and they were all too often a predictable disappointment, as kids returned to school having experienced only the stranglehold of insurance and safety concerns. I always hoped that one day, a would-be teenage surgeon would come rushing back to class, shouting “It was great! I cut someone open!” It never happened in life, so I’ve put into fiction.
What inspired the writing of LIQUIDATOR?
– see above. The thrill of the chase, too: I do love fast-moving, action packed adventures with real jeopardy.
Apart from LIQUIDATOR, what other works for young readers can you recommend?
I’m afraid I don’t read that much, for fear I’ll either be dismayed at its brilliance, or seduced into copying. I have a few ‘touchstone’ YA books, the main one of which is John Boyne’s THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS. If I get stuck, I read a chapter of that and it always unsticks me. Other than that, I am desperately traditional. I love the Moomins, for sheer surrealism.
What is your favourite part of the writing process?
First draft, for sure. It’s like playing with dolls: you get lost in the game as the dolls come to life and do things you never expected. Returning to the m/s for editing is good, too – and it’s lovely to share your work with agent and editor. But there’s nothing quite like the virgin sand of first draft.
With LIQUIDATOR only having just landed it may be a bit premature to ask this question, but I will ask it anyway. Do you have anything new planned that you can share with the audience?
I’m working on a film-script with Steve Coogan, and radio plays for Radio 4. The next children’s book is well underway, too – a bit of a departure. It’s about a dog with a crippling identity crisis.
Finally, do you ever visit schools or public libraries and if you do what is the best way to get into contact with you about organising a visit?
Yes, I try to say yes if I possibly can – and the best way to get something organised is through the excellent AUTHORS ALOUD – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions!
THANK YOU FOR ASKING! -ANDY
Liquidator by Andy Mulligan is published by David Fickling Books and is available on 1st October