Question & Answer with Philip Ardagh
What gave you the idea for the Eddie Dickens
I simply wanted to set an adventure in the days of Charles Dickens and
beyond. The characters developed from there.
Do you know anyone like the Dickenses?
I've said it before and I'll say it again: You should meet my family!
What made you choose to be a writer?
I went to 'proper school' when I was two-and-a-half years old. No play group
for me. My big brother was at school so I wanted to go . . . and I always loved
writing. My dad used to be given lots of business diaries come Christmas and I'd
fill them with squiggles and pretend writing and -- hey presto -- I had a book
with a cover and everything. Then I began to get (very) short stories printed in
school magazines and I'd sit in my dad's study and do pretend typing on his
gun-metal gray portable typewriter until I jammed the keys so badly, one time,
that I was banned from that activity! So, from very early on, I discovered that
I liked the thinking process, the sharing of the ideas process and the physical
act of writing itself; whether with pen or by keyboard.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I wish I had a simple answer, such as 'www.fresh-ideas-for-books.com' or '23
Ainsley Avenue' or 'from an old box I found in the attic,' but it is much more
complicated than that. Ideas are often thoughts put down on paper, developed and
refined . . . in other words: I don't really know, they just happen and I
nurture them along and turn them into something.
What advice would you give to budding young writers?
Keep reading and get writing. Once you've got something down on paper you can
always go back to it and make it better. The hardest thing is getting started.
If you're stuck for ideas, take an everyday situation and think, 'What if . .?'
For example: 'What if I wake up tomorrow and find that. We grown ten feet
overnight?' From that simple idea you can start wondering what you'd do about
getting clothes to fit; what your parents might think and your friends might
say; what the advantages and disadvantages of being so huge might be, and so on
and so on.
What is your favorite color?
That often changes. At the moment it's the
orangy-yellow of a fried egg . . . tomorrow it might be the particular pink of
an iced Bakewell tart, or the red of a tomato, or the deep, dark brown of
chocolate . . .
What is your favorite smell?
My favorite smell is that of the paper of a brand new book.