What’s your favourite superhero sound effect? #PowBlamZack!
When Arm Fall-Off Boy detaches his arm it goes PLORP! That’s pretty good.
Superhero or supervillain?
Evil is fun in fiction, but abhorrent in real life. So I’d choose to be on the side of the good guys, unless I’m writing myself into a book, in which case it’s villain all the way.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars is my first love. I walked out of that cinema a changed nine-year-old. I don’t think I’ve ever really recovered. I once saw Carrie Fisher do a one-woman show, and at the end of the performance the lights dimmed, a spotlight found her and she did the “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi’ speech. I get a tingle just thinking about it! I love Star Trek too, especially the Wrath of Khan, which I reference frequently in my books.
Who is your favourite author?
Douglas Adams had a big influence on me. Before I read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy all of my heroes wore space armour, wielded light-sabers, blasters or phasers. He puts his hero in a dressing-gown and armed him with a guide-book. Genius.
Who was your favourite superhero as a child?
Perhaps surprisingly, I was not a big fan of superheroes when I was younger. But I’ve always liked the Man of Steel and Spider-Man. I remember being bought a Spidey comic with a mask stuck to the cover, but in those days the paper engineering was rather limited and the mask was basically a paper-bag with Spider-Man artwork. Basically, I spent the next week with a paper-bag on my head, leaping off the stairs. Ah, simpler times.
Telekinesis or Telepathy?
Telekinesis for me. No to telepathy – I don’t want to hear anyone else’s thoughts, thank-you. That seems like a very quick way to lose friends.
What is your favourite book to film adaptation?
‘Holes’ is a brilliant adaptation. And I like it when the filmmakers do something clever rather than just ploddingly turn every chapter into a scene.
Favourite place in the world?
Italy. My books are published there now and I was invited to Bologna and Rome this year, which was a treat.
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I wanted to be some kind of writer from an early age, but I wasn’t one of those people who proceeded to write short stories or enter writing competitions. My approach was subtle. I snuck up on my career, lulling it into a false sense of security by writing nothing for years and then, when it least expected, I pounced, apologetically.
Cats or dogs?
Favourite song at the moment?
I tend to ignore anything recorded after about 1989. I like to think I’m educating my children with my 80s playlists, but I’m waiting for the inevitable backlash. I like to listen to soundtracks when I’m writing. Some Hans Zimmer, James Horner or Michael Giacchino is good, particularly during the climactic chapters.
Favourite quote of all time?
‘I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.’
Thank-you Douglas Adams!
Have you ever been starstruck?
I once wrote a TV commercial for a hotel chain and remember sitting around thinking about casting. My art director said: you know who would be good for this? Jeff Goldblum. I laughed. Given that we were sitting in the offices of a Glasgow ad agency at the time, that seemed like a reach. But about two months later we were in a studio off Sunset Boulevard shooting with Mr Goldblum. Definitely a starstruck moment!
What was your favourite subject at school?
An odd mixture. I had several inspirational English teachers, I feared PE, and I wish I’d been better at Physics, which I enjoyed with inexpert enthusiasm.
Time Travel or Immortality?
Time travel is very hard to incorporate in a story without introducing plot holes, though at some point I’d like to give it a go. ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’ is the only book I can think of that seemed to me to make time travel ‘work’. No thanks to immortality. I’ll take an extra decade or two in excellent health, but I don’t want to live forever.
Notebook or laptop?
Both, and recently paper and pencil. I’m a clumsy typist and I’ve discovered that I can get my ideas down more easily if I use a pencil. But it’s always back to the Mac for editing.
What’s the best & worst things about writing books and writing screenplays?
The best thing is that with My Brother is a Superhero and its sequels I’ve finally written something that’s connected with an audience. The worst thing is the pressure to make the next book better than the last.
What was it like when you wrote your first book?
When it comes to writing, I love the bit at the end, when you’re done.
What’s your favourite book in #TomsBookClub apart from your own?
You can’t make me pick a favourite! Let’s just say I’m looking forward to reading all of them to my own children.
Have you ever missed anything big because you had to go for a wee?
Sorry, just had to step out for a moment. Y’know. Did I miss anything big?