Nov. 22, 2021

S1 Ep31: The greatest day of Jon's life - an interview with Andy Stanton

We're pretty lucky that Jon's writing hero responded to his somewhat serial killer-esque letter of invitation in the affirmative, rather than pursuing it further through legal channels. But all's well that ends well! We had a proper funty time with Andy, his chair and loads of really good insights into "the craft". (Fortunately we managed to keep Jon from embarrassing himself and letting it slip that he's actually got an Andy Stanton shrine in his downstairs loo... oh, and that he nearly called one of his kids Jammy Grammy Lammy F'Huppa F'Huppa Berlin Stereo Eo Eo Lebb C'Yepp Nermonica Le Straypek De Grespin De Crespin De Spespin De Vespin De Whoop De Loop De Brunkle Merry Christmas Lenoir).
Find the wonderful world of Mr Gum here

See Jon' at all creepy letter to Andy here

Music by Dano songs

oh man two i'm too nervous i'm too nervous to lead us into this one it's uh this is a big one for me oh my god don't be scared this is what you've been waiting for no seriously i think this might be the reason i signed up for the podcast it was like in the back of my mind maybe we could talk to andy stanton if i send him a really dodgy stalker letter type thing maybe he'll come on the show i mean what kind of ridiculous idea was that that worked it actually worked these last 30 episodes have just been a cunning ruse to get to this point exactly yeah and uh yeah we should i feel like our entire relationship has been a bit of a lie to be honest just used us stepping stones so this is probably the point guys i should tell you that i'm stepping down from doing the podcast i'm just going to go and live outside andy stanton's house in a bin just in case he waved to me yeah so well i don't think we need a lot of introduction really there once were three chaps on a podcast and many folks thought it would not last they couldn't be more wrong because they're on episode 31 and they're still having a bit of a blast

in fact before we get to andy we need to we need to ask the question let's do the question tommy let's start with you this week because we know what bet he's going to say

and i've written lots of words actually

um yeah it's not it's not going stupidly well but i have been dipping in and doing a thousand words here and there um that's good yeah yeah it's in normal times if it wasn't nanowrimo month they'd be like well this is cool um but they're kind of that big over your head but i think i'm probably at the point after after not getting down to it in the first week and then being really busy with i mean everyone is isn't that literally the point of it but um yeah it's not been great timing in terms of that but nevertheless like last night i just i did like a thousand words just when normally i would have just uh gone to bed of working it is and i think what i've learned as well is that i don't really want to write a novel interesting okay there we go that's good i just don't think i've got the attention to to drag the story through so what are you thinking what would be your ideal medium um i think maybe i need to get you know like my silly little sales book that kind of uh yeah got to the end i think that's probably something in that elk is where i'm at really that freedom just to kind of freestyle and yeah yeah let it come out and kind of try the the humor side i think i just get a bit bored with the story thing because i know what's going to happen there is that element to it isn't there that you kind of like you know where you're just trying to get to but it's going to be ages until you get there yeah and you've got to put all these bits in place in between time and i wonder if that's why i've shied away from the planning thing yeah all these years because then once you've done that it's like well you might the magic's gone it just becomes a task yeah it's just it's just a thing so so in some ways good in some ways bad but in other ways also good yeah well it's the bit like i've i quite fancy the idea of going to australia but i'm never going to go because i can't be asked with the journey like i want to be there but i don't want to go there you seem to be doing quite well though with your journey to australia well no you're not doing so well with that out of bristol yeah yeah no with the with the books yeah i mean i've just polished one off and started another one and doing getting on quite well with it yeah although i reached a bit of a tricky bit halfway point oh yeah but that's what everyone's always yeah i think what it is or certainly for me is that like the first half the opening of it is is a lot of fun because it's like opening a menu and you get all these options in front of you and you can follow all these threads and set a load of things up and then there comes a point where you realize right i've got to start pulling all these threads together now it's like the expansion is over i need to start pulling this together to a point and make a decision about what what's actually going to happen it's like some kind of massively sort of like big philosophical question isn't it about about freedom of of choice and yeah yeah alternate realities hanging out before you and then you shut them down but then at the middle of the story obviously they vanish and you've got that predetermined path yeah really to get to the end i mean there's different ways of getting there yeah so it's you know that's the joy from the reader that's the reader's story as well isn't it but what i have done uh i've made i finally decided who the killer is which i think is going to actually be quite useful when it comes to finishing the book revealing something at the end yes yes yeah otherwise it would just sort of end and it went back to dave's primary school and it was all a dream and actually nobody was dead nobody always died everyone was happy i don't know so yeah so i had a bit of a had a bit of a wobble but then uh yeah i think i've overcome that wobble and i'm on the downward slope to failure again though lovely look very good john any update from you no great right well moving on so we managed to get hold of andy stanton through fair means and foul i think it's fair to say we should re-post that letter on our twitter for people to look at we should definitely put it we'll stick it in the blog how about that yeah yeah yeah yeah well at least two of us could be bothered to turn up for the interview anyway poor beardy for best oh yeah poor birdie he was quite busy was he though yeah well you know uh yeah i couldn't i couldn't help it it was i work that you know you had i had commitments that i couldn't do this podcast together dave i think probably being honest with each other is really i don't don't know what you mean tom i don't i think it was perfectly innocent i just had child care issues dave i recorded the phone call my phone call hello hi mates just me oh yeah you know i was just going to call you all right what about about john is um author crush yeah yeah he's got a bad and he yeah yeah just a bit um full-on uh-huh embarrassing creepy stalkerish yeah i mean kind of sweet though isn't it yeah in the same way a dog humping a cushion is sweet yeah anyway i was gonna say so i might give the interviewer miss and then right yeah because i i was gonna i was gonna say that too we can't both not do it can we well i don't want to be there or john's getting all sexy weird stuff yeah neither do i um toss a coin for it all right all right heads or tails uh heads okay here we go ah bollocks what kind of coin have you got with bollocks on it's normally heads or tails hang on is that the new 50p no i mean bollocks it's heads you won unlucky tom yuri yeah brilliant looking forward to playing chaperone and gooseberry all rolled into one yeah i'll probably just make up some excuse like i've got like child care issues or some babysitters falling through are you daft enough to fall for any yeah no i mean yeah he is anyway good luck yes thanks a lot mate yeah thanks a lot see you then see you bye that's an invasion of privacy so that's how it went down we can only we can only take so much fawning i think you behave yourself pretty well in the interview and it and it is it is a great interview i think i did all right considering considering my deep love for andy well let's hear it then shall we i haven't heard this yet so let's uh let's have a listen

we are delighted and honored and other sycophantic words to introduce onto the podcast the one and only andy stanton hi andy hey hello hello hello nice to be here thank you for having me you're very welcome we we're very grateful i feel like i don't need to say that you're a children's book author because i sort of just assume that everyone's as big a fan as i am but just on the enough to hear it it reminds me what i'm supposed to do well on the off chance that you're not entirely sure and that people don't know i uh andy stanton is uh is probably most famous for being the writer of the mr gum series of children's books and uh if you haven't read them then shame on you uh yeah really yeah seriously so uh so andy by way of a little warm-up could you just uh just describe to us where you are right now and maybe what uh what position you've assumed for the duration of this chat just so we can visualize you right in your natural habitat yeah yeah yeah well i'm uh i'm in the normal place and i've got the normal position which in my case means that i'm i'm in my flat in north london very nice which in as far as anything can be normal that's my normality and i'm sitting on a chair guys you'll be astounded oh interesting um if you if you'd like a little more detail it's a sort of 70s kind of i think probably late 70s early 80s sort of roundy kind of space chair well it's not a space chair but you know it makes you feel like you're sitting in a spaceship because it's kind of like it's kind of like half a circle you're sitting on and it's got a hydraulic stem which doesn't work properly and i bought it for about 70 pounds on the holloway road from a secondhand uh furniture shop because it looked really great and then about a week after i bought it the sort of pleather started flaking off it so it's it's not in disrepair so my i'm really appearing on this podcast mostly to see if there are any um restorers furniture restorers out there who can do that a refurbishment of a chair like this because i've asked around guys and you phone up a guy and he'll say oh i don't do that modern stuff that's modern yeah doing things from like 1680 or something they won't do it and or there's one guy on upper street in islington and he said yeah i can do that it'll cost you but the the fabric will cost you a few hundred then i'll do it for 550 pounds i thought no i'm not i'm not doing that well that's trouble yeah if you ask anyone ask a lay person and they will invariably tell you through no knowledge whatsoever that don't bother me it's more expensive to get it re-upholstered than it is just buy a new one well they're right in this world it turns out they are isn't it yeah so it just goes to show that if you want something done properly don't do it absolutely absolutely so andy tell us a story tell us the story um let's get back to mr gom tell us a story all right how how missed a gun and another thing right for 70 quid though i'm not upset sorry you know it's it's it's a nice chair of course as a big bargain hunt fan the question is when you went into that shop did they immediately knock off like 80 percent of the ticket price just because you went what's your best price which seems to be always well i think i i i do say what's your best prices in a lot of places and i like um great i'm glad we're talking about this it's very it seems to be what i want to talk about um wait uh i i like to say oh is that the best you can do in a nice way and then you know often they'll say well and then i'll go and then do you like curb your enthusiasm yeah because i get into it i think the way to barter is to get into a kind of larry david not the i not angry i raped properly irritated at larry david not at all the opposite the kind of stand back rock on your heels hands on chin and go huh okay so all right that's interesting so yeah i like it i don't know if i love it and you get into that and and they sort of go well and you go well and sometimes that you know sometimes you get money off i think it's important to try and rook small businesses for as much as you can no i think it's i actually i tell you what i actually think i actually think that people like bartering and if both parties in a batter are happy that's a very it's a very enjoyable thing it actually gives the salesperson more agency yeah yeah than you get in today's modern world if you work at a supermarket you can't barter with the customers you have no agency people who sell stuff actually enjoy i would say buy and lodge having a little game of chess with you and if you don't want it you don't but it's almost rude not to in some countries isn't it you know you've got to you've got to go through the process oh absolutely yeah yeah it is it is a big part of the culture so this is brilliant so it's been a lot of fun guys i'm glad we hate i hate i hate but i hate that i really hate it oh yeah i just think just put put your price on the ticket and i'll just look if we're happy with that that's what i love i've had some good experiences with bartering i enjoy the game i enjoy the game yeah now no all right we're just gonna have to we're gonna have to disagree on it i think um well we've split the room this is fundamentally opposed to bartering in any form i find it abhorrent it really is defensive well okay um i wasn't i i wasn't expecting this awkwardness but i would be willing to move my position if we had a a to and fro and talked about it obviously oh oh you would huh yeah yeah well maybe yeah maybe a little bit maybe how would you like maybe ten percent yeah well i might probably stretch to a 15 20 move um this is what's known as meta comedy kid is this isn't it's like on full loop it's gone so full loop that it's not really funny anymore it's so funny it's so funny stop it stop being funny what i was gonna say before andy was i think we should i should have said this to the start i should have probably spoken to you separately to be honest but you probably gathered from john's weird stalking letter in order to invite you on the show um that he is like uh embarrassingly yeah i did i did reading between the lines and also also also not just between the lines reading the lines themselves i actually mentioned yeah so there might just there might be moments moments in there i didn't mean to scare you andy i hope i didn't when i saw this letter that you i think you scanned it or photographed it and put it up on twitter and sort of copied my name in so that it'll be bound to pass my face um i did think uh these guys are a couple of weirdos and then but then i also thought yeah but i'm quite cantankerous maybe it will all look like more fun tomorrow so i slept on it and when i looked at it the next day i thought you know what they still look like weirdos i'll sleep on it one more day and then the next day i thought they look like weirdos but nice weirdos and i'm very flattered so thank you i i think it's a lovely thing to be asked to be on your show especially enjoy the failing writer's podcast you might you've spoken to a lot of writers am i correct yeah yeah yeah we have i i would imagine that quite a few of them have said i feel like a failing writer sometimes even though i do that for a living yeah yeah unanimously that's exactly it there you go that's that's what most we're all failing writers but just on different levels that's exactly right i am i most i i liked the idea i i i enjoyed the flattery thank you guys you're very funny lads well done and um i i i really like the idea of talking about the verticitudes and sometimes joys of writing so here i am but it turns out that what i really want to talk about is this chair but let's let's put that let let's table the chair for a moment right yeah yeah so is it how's it going guys i'm really i'm really making it hard for you i think it feels like it's flowing beautifully it's going to be a great assistance yeah this is where the edit comes in well you probably know that i enjoy playing with form if you know my book yes i like to so i'm just giving you a little taste of how tiring it is to actually be me speaking actually andy i've got a question for you speaking of editing because your books come across as and then take this in the the way it's meant as quiet awful just fresh

um as raw and unedited that's hilarious no but kind of like really i think it gives him a life doesn't it oh yeah yeah such a spark and a life to them that they feel like they've not been some books you can tell have been edited with an inch of their life and this and it kind of flattens out that life it's a great starting point great talking but are yours my books are i edit my books right sorry i mean i edit with brilliant editors yeah isn't it um but they are edited by me and by my editor to within one thousandth of a thousandth of a thousandth of an inch of their lives the trick is to make it seem fresh and effortless yeah which i hopefully pull off more than i don't but i am absolutely ridiculously horrifically exactly is quite interesting and i'm i might i might at some point send you a little document showing you some of my notes for one of the books uh we'll see uh it won't be for public consumption probably but uh i um i have said i i've driven probably more than one editor or a copy editor to an early grave uh with my i i literally have notes and notes and notes even as it's going to press even if it's you know a week before three days before and i went oh my god oh yeah yeah well yes and no mostly no um no no i i'm i'm i am uh i'll rethink a comma three times or i want a hyphen instead of a comma or i want i i've often asked in the mr gum books to change the pagination to cheat the pagination a bit so a particular punchline will appear at the top of the next page instead of the end of the the page we're on right and it's to that i haven't done this for a while i haven't written a mr gum but for a while so i'm trying to remember i can't even remember how exactly i am but it's even worse than i'm explaining than i'm describing but um yes i i will be and then i'll see something that we can do with the illustrations and i'll go hey could we actually reuse that illustration there's a there's an illustration on in book four where mr gum is chasing the hero in polly uh where it's a chapter called chasing time i said let's reuse that illustration let's put it on the next page but move mr gum a bit closer to polly and then let's reuse it again on the next page and move them closer again i'll i'll i'll be doing uh i'm editing the text for all sorts of things i'm changing one word in a joke because i feel like it clashes with a word 75 pages later no no lie um i'm changing commas i'm changing full stops hyphens i'm changing where the words fall on the page and i'm saying hey we can get an extra game out of the illustration wow and that so it's all pretty loose then it just kind of comes out this is probably the word that i'm trying to uh that's probably the take the take out from what i'm saying so this very strong sense that you're having a really fun time writing these books and it's just flowing out of you is all just total crap well is it actually painful for you oh yeah or do you quite enjoy being that exactly the exacting bit is uh it's not it's not exactly painful that exactly because you're only being that exactly when you've got something to be exacting with so that means you've that means you've basically done the book and you've done enough drafts that it's basically happening now and you can go down to the wire on those things uh there are still things that i wish i hadn't cut or tiny tiny things that no one else would ever notice in a million years that i would i wish i'd put in the books or i hadn't um or just ah i missed one trick oh i got i got 2007 tricks done into that in that book but i missed one it's like when you're on stage and you're trying to make people laugh and any comedian will tell you this but uh you always see the one person not laughing it doesn't matter if you're bringing down the album yeah there's one there's one guy j16 didn't crack a smile and that's all you think about so that's what i think about i think ah there was one more joke i didn't put in that but that bit is actually like watchmaking to me that's really enjoyable although it drives me bonkers to be that exact thing it's the actual writing that i find really painful it's lovely that you think it flows when it's when the actual writing and invention and story making is flowing it can happen it's a lovely feeling i'm sure you must have experienced it at some points and you really feel like you're in the flow you're in the be to me it feels like um everything is you you know if you were playing sport it would be like oh he's seeing the ball like a grapefruit don't they say um and that that's when you just sort of you're holding the story lightly but tightly at the same you're in control of it but you feel like you can see it from all angles you can see what move to make next that's rare when you get into that flow mostly for me the writing bit that's the pain getting to the end of the first draft and how long would that normally take you or does it massively depend on just how you're feeling whatever the book is that you're writing or um piece of string question isn't it i am i'll tell you how it mostly worked for mr gum which is uh that firstly you're looking for an idea the idea can take months it could when it comes you go oh it came in the second night months of rejecting other ideas um let's say i've got an idea that i think will start off a mr gumbook and i think i can see an ending in sight i've got some idea of where it might end up and i feel like there's enough to sustain a middle so let's just say i've got an idea in three seconds flat for the sake of argument how long does it then take to write okay um if i'm lucky that first draft and these books are only about 11 000 words not very much but they've got to be the right words that might take me if i'm lucky i'll get a first draft in three weeks but more likely i'll start that story get a third of the way through and decide it hasn't got legs or i'll get a third of the way through and decide that there's a better story that this isn't oh wow go back to the beginning it's it's it's gosh it's a difficult process described i'm very inefficient basically okay let me put it another way mr gum is about eleven thousand words for most of those books i wrote at least thirty thousand and probably as much as fifty thousand so how'd you like them apples um that's a lot of apples that's a lot of it's too many apples yeah and some of them aren't very good you have to get rid of those ones i i've written entire manuscripts of mr gum got to the end of the first draft and then thought hate it i wrote the second book mr gum and the biscuit billionaire second book i have an entire book called mr gavin the biscuit billionaire which is a completely different story got to the end of it hated it and rewrote the so i kept i kept one thing i kept the character uh the biscuit billionaire who is a gingerbread man with electric muscles called ellen taylor he's got a building i love the idea that you've rewritten the entire book but there's just like a i can't be asked changing the title oh i like i like i like that i'll have to i'll have to keep here i like the character but i got the wrong story for him right i am i'll briefly summarize the two stories and you can see if you you think i picked the right one um so the one that was the one that was published mr gum and the biscuit billionaire a gingerbread man with electric muscles called alan taylor comes to town and he's got a billion pounds in a biscuit tin and he doesn't really understand about friendship so he tries to impress everyone with his money rather than get to know them so he throws a massive fun fare to impress the town and win his favor mr gum and billy william the third the villains then steal his money at the fun fair alan taylor gets depressed and retires to bed the heroines polly and friday o'leary track down mr gum and billy recover the money there's a big fight and alan taylor has learnt the power of friendship and everything's fine right that's the published version the first version was also called mr gum and the biscuit billionaire a gingerbread man with electric muscles called ellen taylor with a billion pounds and a biscuit picked in came to town he threw a funfair to impress everybody in this story he had a girlfriend called chocolaty claire who was a cake alan taylor and chocolaty claire went in the tunnel of love during the fun fair and when they emerged chocolatey claire had been eaten and alan taylor was then framed for murdering chocolate declare by mr gum and billy who threw a kangaroo court trial for him to convict him of murdering his girlfriend when in fact it had been mr gum who had been hiding in the tunnel of love and eaten chocolatey claire and they sentenced ellen taylor to death by fox securium because i was thinking of um thinking of the gingerbread man in the story who gets eaten by fox in the river so they had they had a fox who was going to eat alan taylor death by so it was it was a story about murder um framing and capital punishment do you think i chose the right story i think i did um but that's also reminded me there was another version of mr gum on the biscuit billionaire uh where alan taylor was the headmaster of a school which he kind of is but in this one he transformed i think in a full moon or something into a character called oliver knuckles i think who was like he was a doctor jekyll and mr hyde and basically let me tell you i've got a lot of draughts on my computer the world is never going to see but that should give you some some of the ideas and some idea about how hard it is for me to find a story and by the way the story where alan taylor was a headmaster and it focused on the school had the heroine polly going to school and she does it she um my heroine is nine years old and you never hear about her parents i think there's one reference to her parents in her to her mum in book one but that's it and you never hear about whether she goes to school or not she actually seems to exist in her own kind of reality she seems to live alone you don't really hear it's like charlie brown you never see the adults right snoopy you never hear about school sending her to school seemed to be playing it's like it's the opposite of jazz you you know you're meant to it's the notes you don't play right yeah i found that sending polly to school and making her into more of a normal kid was playing the wrong notes it was playing the notes that i should keep silent yeah yeah and it wasn't the story i wanted to tell so these are the things that i think about these rules these things that stop me from writing or stop me from writing certain stories i hate children's books that are about municipal things i was always very depressed as a child full stop i was very depressed as a child by um stories that involved anything to do with mechanical diggers or trains or engines or lorries i i just didn't i instinctively just thought i hate that world it's so banal so in mr gum there's never any of that there's never anything municipal really or if it's there it's only there as a mundane joke yeah to make the world crappy for a moment yeah and that's the same with roald dahl isn't it he would just extract you out of this sort of uh out of the family home and out of schools and out of that kind of world well that's right but i borrowed a lot from roald dahl but mostly what i borrowed was the idyll of the type of english country town or village that a lot of his stories would take place in which were probably more real for him and more realistic i mean at the time yes yeah yeah but which now i i'm taking a photocopied version of that and using it as like a trope yeah of kids stories it's like we all know that there aren't really that many towns like that these days and again i try i keep i keep chain stores and that sort of mentality out of my books it's all little it's all old-fashioned shops and stuff in my books because i i'm i'm riffing off a trope that people like rob dole set up as more of a reality in their time that's uh that's very interesting i can't quite believe uh i can't quite believe it's so painful you can't believe there's actually a thing a thinking brain behind this [ __ ] a lot of people can't you're not the first i i think that's the beauty of it though could you could you tell us tell us the story of how mr gum came about in the first place because i think that might give us a sort of an idea of do you know this story because uh yeah i'm gonna tell you either way but have you ever have you i talk about this a lot have you read this anywhere i have yeah yeah yeah yeah it's a this this is a kind of the opposite of what i was just talking about in some ways although still related so uh i wasn't doing much with my life and i had a lot of ideas they go through my head you can probably tell and um and i'm very bad at developing them i was about 30 something like that and i was in danger of becoming one of those people who you sometimes see at parties what do you do well i'm working at the nhs but i really want to do something creative and then you see them a year later don't you and then you go what are you doing you go well i'm still at the nhs and i love the nhs by the way i really do um i did i was working at the nhs that's why i'm using it as an example i was a temp but uh i love the nhs don't get me wrong but it wasn't my calling um but you know people would see me again what you're doing well i'm still at the nhs but i still want to do something creative i wasn't doing anything i was have all these ideas any idiot can have ideas as someone more clever than me has said but it's what you do with it that counts right i wasn't doing anything i got so so frustrated of never developing anything never seeing if i could back myself but um well i was i wasn't developing these things i wasn't i wasn't actually putting myself to the test it was christmas eve maybe 2000 and um 2002 even christmas of 2002 i was house sitting at a cousin's house i was going to see a bunch of my cousins the next day of christmas they all had kids that were about seven eight nine at that time i really like kids of that age i really like playing with their brains i really like talking to them just conversing with those that sort of age group i have an affinity for them and um i thought right god damn it i don't want to just be that the funny uncle the guy at the party i'm going to see if i can finish a story from start to finish i'm going to write a story and i'm going to read it to them on christmas day like we're in victorian times right and i had at that time a floppy disk with me that's how long ago this was 2002 i had a floppy dis 3.5 inch or whatever it was and um i stuck it into my cousin's computer house i was house sitting and i opened it up and there were a few scraps of writing they were like literally a line here a paragraph there i thought right i'll choose one of these things and i will run with it there was probably about 60 words saying oh there was a horrible man called mr gum and a big dog got into his village i thought fine fine roll with it i started writing it was 11 o'clock christmas eve 2002. and i started writing and i just wrote forward it's the hardest thing to do it's the hardest thing is to just write don't worry about how crap it is don't edit as you go along don't look back just keep adding add add add if it was an improvisation you'd call it yes and yes and keep your eye you know yes your ideas and add to them yes your ideas led to them and that's what i did as i wrote all these other characters came into the story um i thought oh mr gum seems pretty horrible i had better give him a sidekick friend who's just as stupid or even more stupid to him that would be funny who would be the friend of a man like that oh a horrible butcher billy william iii about five chapters in i realized that this definitely feels like a kid's story but there are no kids in it okay i better have a kid who shall it be all right up until now everybody is basically being a grotesque old man i better put i better put some feminine energy into this thing and great i came up with a nine-year-old girl called polly who is my favorite character but this was just an improvisation with myself i've put those in place what does that lead to a horrible sidekick what do two horrible old men need to counteract them a really plucky young girl so all these characters just strolled him i wrote for seven hours straight seven eight hours straight it was six seven a.m christmas morning the birds were chirping outside i typed to the end i all i wanted to do was just do this to see if i could finish something i read it to my cousins on christmas day they didn't listen to me that much because it was like formalizing our relationship a bit i'm going to read you a story now kids and also they'd had too much chocolate they were over excited it was christmas i read it to them i thought brilliant i have proven myself i felt like a bit of an idiot reading it and sort of getting a funny you know getting a half interested reaction off my cousins i took it home and i forgot about it for two years two years later i found it in a draw i thought this is really good i made a few very small changes to it i added a i thought it was very short although it was very dense with meaning and funniest you add some spaces i had this as faces yes just to fool the agents i am now i added the subroutine of jonathan ripples martin laundrette and a little girl called peter who functioned sort of as a greek chorus throughout that book and i i thought oh so it was probably just to pad it out a bit but it seemed like a funny routine that could recur through the books which it did and then i sent it off to some agents basically and that's the story so to cut a long sorry to cut a long story about a short story short i basically that's the only time in my life that i've ever been able to really there's one night in my life where i accidentally gave myself a commission and a career and it was just from writing without fear writing forward and improvising with myself and not worrying about the quality till later that's the story it sounds like a fairy tale you don't write your first book in one night and that book doesn't go on to be a series and there's any theories and 35 countries or whatever it's in but it's just believing it i believed it all andy until he started saying it was christmas eve then he just stretched it too far it just becomes unbelievable i know i know it was it was it snowing was it snowing as well outside and were there children carol singing here and was it just us um sure sure sure why not and then i bought the biggest yeah but but but the but okay the thing about that story is that it's very rare to write with such floating yeah yeah but also that that flow was born out of in its own turn years and years of frustration and annoyance of myself for not doing that stuff so even then did i write it in one night or did i write it in 20 years of getting frustrated with myself or 15 years ago you know a little of both you like the human personification of this podcast yeah well that's like i say i saw the title of it and i thought that's the podcast for me guys yeah yeah one of the other ways that you you managed to elongate the book was uh to you gave polly a full oh well that's it can you remember her full name off by heart by the way just out of interest well i can but i can't prove it to you that i'm not reading out of anything but that wouldn't be any fun would it uh but yeah polly's full name is jamie grammy lambie for hopper for hopper berlin stereo eo eo lab cep no monica la straipet de graspin de crespin de beste pin de vespen de whoop de lute de bronco merry christmas lenoir but most people call her polly to save timing for convenience's sake but um yeah that was that was in the first draft without a single change and that that was like a microcosm of how i wrote that night which was i introduced this girl into the book she immediately seemed like she was going to be the straight man or the straight girl to to all the ada idiot adults around her but i wanted to looking back on it i think i wanted to codify her so she's although she's the straight one she's the sensible one yeah she's still the part of that cartoon world yes she's not normal normal yeah there's still some no element of exactly so so i don't you don't want to make you know you don't want to make your heroes or heroines all good and you don't want to make your villains all bad which is pretty basic stuff you want you want to have sympathetic villains and flawed heroes um or at least interesting heroes so you know so she's an interesting mix of virtue and morals but also she's still properly a nine-year-old girl with a bit of tomboy in her and she's also of that world so she has so although she's polly secretly in her dna she's jammy grammy lemme so she's of that world and the other thing about her which you probably know is that she has really bizarre addiction yes which is like um she pluralizes a lot of things she pluralizes a lot of things because she sort of says i hate mr gum so a lot of a lot of parents reading to their kids do polly as west country because of the i hates that or he hates that uh she's not west country in my head they especially do it if they're from that part of the country which is you know it's all it's all fine it's all cricket their book to do with what they want in my head she's like a cocky street urchin right or that's her but basically she's the she's kind of like a street urchin with the addiction of a mississippi blues man and that's how i think so she's yeah she's just got really really idiosyncratic they've all got quite idiosyncratic ways of talking but polly takes the prize for that so because she's the straightest character she has to have other things built into her dna for that to be of that same world so yeah these are all things i think about i can tell you so many interesting to me secrets of the things that tie those books up under the surface i'll tell you one more because i find it interesting yeah um i i mentioned snoopy and charlie brown before peanuts i always loved in peanuts how um and by the way the title you're a bad man mr gum which is the first book oh that that first night by the way when i wrote the book in one night as it were the story for a while was just called the story of mr gum but by the time i sent it off to agents two years later i'd found a better title which is you're a bad man mr gum which has stolen completely for rhythm and intent from you're a good man charlie brown which is one of those the name of one of those um snoopy compendiums those little paperbacks back in the 70s and it's just got such a lovely rhythm you're a bad man mr gum i'm sure schultz is responsible for most of my financial success just for that rhythm and um but but the other thing the more the more subtle thing i took from snoopy is that i always loved in peanuts how the characters referred to each other differently depending on who was speaking to who right so marcy who dotes on peppermint patty always calls peppermint patty sir even though patty patty's a girl marcie's got this thing she always calls pep and patty sir peppermint patty refers to snoopy as the funny looking kid with the big nose peppermint patty calls charlie brown chuck but no one else does and there's a few others i think but that basically what i'm saying is that the characters have different relationships and modes of address for each other and i took that mr gum for example there were rules in mr gum which emerged as i went along one is mr go and billy must never basically know polly's name they must always refer to as that horrible little girl everybody has to call alan taylor alan taylor first and for and last name at all times except for mr gum who only ever calls alan taylor taylor polly refers to jonathan ripples as jonathan ripples sir just like marcy calls pep and patty sir but no one else does and friday calls polly little miss and the spirit of the rainbow always calls polly child even though he's no older than she is so what i'm trying to say is that i thought it was such a neat thing that it would it would put glue in under the story yeah it will put dynamics in under the story that you might you won't be aware of them at that level but but it will make you feel like these are a group of characters who dynamically interrelate with each other and hold each other in different yeah relation yeah that's a lovely way of doing it well i i learned from the best did that just happen organically then as the characters grew out of it or did you have to work that i think it was quite conscious that i'd always admired that in short right and it became thicker as more characters in the yeah in books down the line came in because alan taylor wasn't even in the first book but just friday calling polly little miss in the first book i i could almost guarantee if we went back to 2002 that what was going through my head was it would be cool to cement the reality of these two by giving them different relationship games with each other because of sure do you also do you have a policy just thinking about the nuts and bolts of putting your books together do you have a policy on like gag ratio because there seemed there seems to be at least one really good gag on every page do you try and do you almost have that in your head like okay i need something in here or or is it just sort of happen oh god you've got to have gags it's a book about it it's a yeah you i mean but almost to the extent where you're like okay i need one there i need one there i need one there or is it just wherever it is you get you get them where it feels right but yeah the problem the problem with gags is that they move they they stop narrative or they yeah take it narrative wants to go forward right gags take you to the left or the right or they stop it all together if we were in an improvisational comedy scene and you started off with what a lovely day it is for a picnic isn't it and i said well we're not even outside and we haven't got a picnic and i don't even know what picnic is because we're on mars right i've i've done a gag that builds and builds and builds on itself and actually trampled you into the ground and it's it's kind of an interesting gag in some ways but where's the scene gone i've just popped the reality so it's it's broken it's stopped the narrative it's what you'd call blocking in improvisation and it's the opposite of yes and so the trick is to make gags but move the narrative forward at the same time writing a book is hard enough writing a story is hard enough at the best of times and all books are hard to write but with comedic writing you have to advance forward whilst bringing your wingmen or your wing women or whatever you want to call them your gags along with you all at the same time it's it's sometimes great to go on a big digression if that's the joke but you have to know when to end that digression and pull us back to the story as well yeah and and then if you've done one big digression and then three pages later there's another big digression that your narrative is going to start suffering so the the the trick is always to advance plot character actual emotional stakes and get those side cheerleaders the gags to come forward with you at the same time so you've had to leave some pretty good gags on the cutting room floor then over the years you've got no idea entire routines right entire routines or there's or some routines uh end up in the books but cut down because they overstayed their wealth yeah and you know another another rule of thumb for comedy is don't overstay your welcome yeah if you look if you look at the average length of a hollywood drama it's going to be more like 120 minutes as compared to the average length of a hollywood comedy it's gonna be more like 90 minutes comedy works better and gets it but comedy has a different framework and demands a different treatment and shorter is best uh like my books are short even for the age range that i'm writing for they're quite they're you know they're not they're not uh it's not a haiku but they're so dense with gags that i i i just they're the length they are for a reason you can go back and read them again and find more stuff in there but uh they you you it like again this is analogous to all writing you're always whatever type of writing you're doing funny or not you're always trying to balance what your effect is and whether you're boring the reader or whether you're adding to this uh so it's analogous comedy has its own rules but they are also transferable to other skills and tools that you use during you know in all manner of writing have you had this all all your life andy this this want of playfulness and and in your head like you know when you're at school you're doing english was it always correct absolutely 100 i've got um stuff from i've got old text uh you know workbooks from when i was eight or nine and there's stuff in there that like would could almost just go straight into mr gum right it's it it's the same thing it's playing with fake endings or just talking to the reader or all sorts of things that i had in me really really early on yeah mucking around with the conventions of stories how did that fit in with with academic life in terms of teachers and oh if the teachers who liked me and like that in me really encouraged it and other teachers it drove them

i mean seriously it was like um if there was someone there who had the ear for that or recognized that that was a good thing they were my champion yeah there was a really great teacher of mine uh who i totally fancied when i was about eight called miss yates she looked a bit like an art teacher if you know what i mean cool haircut and dangly earrings but she was an english teacher but she loved my stuff she actually taught me one of the most important lessons as a writer i've been taught in my life which is she loved my stuff but she would call me out if it was [ __ ] too there was one thing i did that was just we had a writing exercise to do she gave us we had to make this story with these characters she gave us it was a really cool exercise she gave us um like five types out of sword and sorcery type stories right there was a hero with a sword and there was a wizard they all had names and stuff there was a dwarf there was a dwarf called little john there was um yeah there was a magician that was and she said right here are your characters they're all trapped in a dungeon right mm-hmm what happens how do they get out right right how they get out and they've got to get out into the and get them out onto the edge of a forest or something right the next day she said right all your characters are in the forest now now they've got to cross the forest what perils do they face and they've got to get to the river or what she got us basically writing a sword and sorcery adventure chapter by chapter day by day we didn't you know uh with these characters she'd given us and we had any we could do anything so i started playing this game where everyone hated little john in my band of brothers right and he whatever they whatever was happening it would be little john who got attacked and he would just get like and i started drawing in the story little john's medical report card every day and he was like by by about day three he had like about nine daggers stuck in him he had stig stinging nettle rashes he had like one of his legs was half chopped off or whatever he had plagued i can't remember what right about day four missy eight says to me this is really she writes on my book this is really really funny this is classic you but i don't see one ounce of emotion in this where's the emotion where's the story that's the lesson yeah it's a good lesson i'll tell you what happened though so the next day wanting to do anything to please miss yates i had like oh that day we all decided to gather around little john and oh little john we love you so much we're so sorry you've gone through all these visitors dudes right right and they all and i i started over egging it the other way it's like oh little john i never told you how much we really emotionally think about you right and then like oh and then the wizard said i found these herbs of healing right i've got these herbs i was like was really pouring the syrup on now to answer this criticism yeah and they restored little john back to full health and i showed his medical card and then um he said little john almost as good as new right last day bloody but last day of the adventure the heroes have gone through all these things and they're going to win the day right they weren't right so i ended my story and then so they they vanquished the last beast defeated the last foe or whatever and then they were all rewarded with gold and cups and silver and blood and new and medals and shields and sort right blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah and then the very last line of my story was and then little john died of exhaustion

but actually the important lesson as a writer you've got a right emotion even if you're doing even if you're doing fun it's got to matter hasn't it ultimately you've got to care it's it's stakes it stakes at emotional stakes and characters are as important in a humorous story as they are in any other story or it or it is just and then he fell in some trifle and then a cat exploded out of his eye and then um a man came up selling radiators and he had a thousand legs and it's like yeah okay great who cares so and then another way uh later on uh my all-time favorite tv program or just absolute inspiration is the first eight seasons or so of the simpsons right and i was a really big simpsons now yeah i can see that yeah yeah of course there's a again there's a lot of um there's there's a bit of springfield in mnemonic bib of the town than the mr gumbooks in the yeah whatever geographical features need to serve the story suddenly seem to appear in mnemonic bible and that's borrowed from that's borrowed from springfield um yeah there's a lot of playing with form as well isn't there in the in the simpsons of course of course it was totally when i i used to watch it so much uh i didn't have sky but a friend did when it first came out was just on sky uh he used to video god this is all so old really dating me wrote it on a floppy disk he used to use vhs tapes and wax cylinders and uh he used to tape me on long page you remember long play you can make a four hour type into an eight-hour tape and so they i think they were shown like twice a day on sky or something he'd get me like 15 20 episodes put them on a long play vhs and i would just binge them to the extent that i remember falling asleep one night and hallucinating tiny simpsons characters running around my pillows like i could see them i would see them but then uh when when they were all available on dvds i started collecting the dvds and i watched everyone with the commentary on as well i would watch the episodes with the commentary and hear the creators talking about them and same story i uh the composer not danny elfman who did the theme but uh alf clausen was the guy who scored the episodes he said he never played to the comedy or the content of the scene he would try and find the score that underscored the emotional truth of the scene so that again is a long another long way of saying always keep the amount i whatever i'm doing on the surface of mr gum it has to there has to be emotional core going on underneath and miss yates taught me that and the simpsons taught me that i don't miss you absolutely there's a there's a bit in a guardian article from a few years ago where you're you're quoted as saying uh a kid asked me in a letter if there was a message in the mr gum stories and i wrote back that the message is that life is pretty stupid quite a lot of the time but we may as well try to be nice to each other which i thought that was that was a great way of actually something like summing up the the feel of the book well it does it's just got that core underneath another thing i love about the simpsons which makes it my number one is the heart yeah absolutely yeah big up big on heart and big on one yeah and um so that that's important to us yeah there's definitely that parallel theme isn't it because the simpsons is very much about being big on heart and the warm flight you say despite the people involved yeah yeah despite those rough characters absolutely i mean i think matt groening says look all these terrible things happen bart gets bullied at school homeless strangles bart they've got a dysfunctional family but at the end yeah by the end of their the episode they're all sitting there you know yeah everything's turned out well it's it's it's hard it's hard the simpsons at its best did triple triple duty on everything every every moment advance plot character and gags all at once all going forward and warmth and i i'm not really a family guy fan because it does it because it's anti-hot and but and it it's stridently and purposefully auntie yeah family guy is interested in that isn't it it's interesting but i even they clearly started out with that intention even so even though they try to be bleak and you know try to be to to pop every shibboleth and taboo as the series went on the only way to sustain those characters was to actually admit some emotional heart into it i still don't like it i i i'm fascinated by it and i it sometimes it more often not makes me go huh that that would be funny if i cared or that would be fun or i can see why i was gonna say i was just gonna say before family guy for me and i quite like it but it's it's um you know what he's saying before about the narratives gotta be driving everything and then things family guy is like gag driven narrative well yeah where the where the gags kind of drag it into places that it wouldn't normally wasn't going to go but it needs to because that's funny we need to keep that so then it just gets a bit topsy-turvy yeah and like i say i i think over time you would look at family guy and see where they started going the characters have to relate to each other more you know whether it was an actual discussion or it just tended that way yeah if you don't sustain if you don't put in some foundations underneath you may as well be reading christmas cracker jokes good one sorry if this is too deep a deeper question but um what is your favorite christmas cracker joke

because i used to i used to love annoying everyone in the family in any family that i was spending time with by guessing the punchline to christmas oh yeah oh oh we do that routinely i like the ones that i i like the ones that are inept and a lot of them are i don't you can't guess them though can you yeah those i don't know no no yes well some of them well yes there's some many ways to be in that my particular favorite type of a christmas cracker joke is the one that reuses a word in the feed line and the punchline where no wait i've discounted that you've discounted that as you guess because it wouldn't be and then they said yeah yeah yeah i mean right but sometimes you can still guess them even so but it's it's such a rule like i mean there's there's what there's a joke about mint spies as in mince buys sounds like spies doesn't it and the joke what's the feed line it's something like oh what are the most i don't know secretive christmas cakes it should be right mint spices yeah yeah what's james bonds yeah yeah yeah that's right thank you what's james bond's favorite christmas treat mint spies and a way it's a rubbish joke but a way to make that instantly more rubbish and christmas crackers routinely do this is what is james bond's favorite christmas pies mint spice yeah it's just like it's just like oh you don't know you don't really know but then you get the worst ones where you go what's james bond's favorite christmas treat and you go mince spies and they go no it's from trifle with love i think that's something i think well jim is completely random not for it's not important doesn't it yeah there's a lot there's a lot of ways to do rubbish jokes my favorite joke in the simpsons ever i've got two actually but i think my uh the one that's germaine to what we're talking about now is um krusty the clown and bette midler are hanging out because he's doing a comeback special he's got all these celebrities on right and uh so he's invited all these celebrities to help him get his career back on track but bette midler's the guest one of the guest stars they're hanging out in the dressing rooms and bep's going oh it's so good to see you again krusty and yeah yeah remember that that racehorse we bought together that was a disaster and she goes yeah cruddler that was a disaster so like they they've called this racehorse cruddler after crusty and mid mid-le right great great in itself because cradler is such an ugly just a crap formation but it's even better when you realize what they missed calling it which was the other half of midler and the other hard of cross half acrosti which results in a race horse called misty which is beautiful and they've called it cruddler and it's so subtle because it's funny even if you don't get the bonus joke and the bonus joke makes it one of my top two jokes in the simpsons i think maybe just as a final little flourish then um i should ask you what does snowmen eat for lunch oh jesus what does snowmen eat for lunch or christmas lunch just for lunch just for generic everyday lunch just the time is on andy i'm afraid i'm gonna have to rush you for an answer uh hold on i'm saying i wanna it's it's a bad one precipitation i don't know what it what is it yeah it sounds bad what is that ice burgers i mean that's not even that's one of those ones isn't it it's not an iceberg iceberg doesn't really relate to breakfast well iceberg doesn't relate to snowmen and it does and it doesn't sound like a type of food like it doesn't sound like hamburgers doesn't sound like burgers does it yeah no that's terrible that's a that's horrific is that a real christmas cracker joke this yeah yeah yeah this is this is on the list of the 50 worst christmas cracker jokes oh well it should be i don't know where you buy your christmas crackers but i want him

i want more of them absolutely absolutely um what oh i feel it i feel ill what do you call father christmas on the beach john this is your turn what do you call father christmas on the beach i know this father christmas on the beach come on think about it sand to claws no i think it's sandy claws i'm gonna i'm afraid i can't give you that john we can only accept the correct answer which is sandy clause the bonus point goes over to andy i'm afraid oh that's that's that's i feel ill again yeah horrible just solid i think um and for your jackpot final question andy you've made it through to the final there by stealing those points off john the uh final question is what says o o o what says o o o and it's badly written it should say who says but i don't know if they're trying to how you how are you spelling the o o h o h oh oh oh oh okay well it's like it's some sort of australian father christmas or that's quite racist calling us to say in australia now and you can't say that but it is indeed yeah it's it it's quite racist which is fine compared to how racist everyone is yeah what what's the answer uh santa walking backwards which just that's such a beautiful one because that really doesn't work because it should be who says not what's it yeah yeah and it's not santa walking backwards really is it because it's it's

just it could be santa walking backwards but the truth is that when you walk backwards you don't automatically reverse your speech that's that so like it's not a given by any means i literally don't think i've ever been with somebody who started walking backwards and talking back so i have been with people who started walking backwards for whatever way yeah i think the punchline for that one should actually be at nas shouldn't it yeah which would work yeah that that that that's just a really weird and sinister joke now but it should be at nurse yeah i don't know why it's sinister it just feels like it feels arcane just like this word it should be in sac capitals as well and then just like sounds like a kind of um russian spy exactly that they would think of in the 1960s spying drama isn't it man from uncle kind of thing that's exactly what it sounds like yeah except he lets himself into everybody's house agents do that kids when they're trying to play with your brain and yeah brainwashing god that got weird i thought it was weird when i was talking about my refurbishing my chair at the start but at nasa i was going to ask andy what is up to next what's next what are you into at the moment andy i am very slowly recording a comedy podcast for adults with a friend of mine in america um who's a he's a tv writer called andy bobrow and we are working on a high concept comedy podcast talking about um painstakingness again we improvised these pog it's all on the one subject we improvised this these episodes with a few beats that we might hear we recorded the improvisations i then transcribed the entire improvisations with every um that i could put down which resulted in about 950 pages of script i then cut down each episode to get about 450 pages over 12 episodes which is about 35 pages an episode then me and andy rewrote those pages together with all the um's and ours in and making it again as realistic as possible we then performed the new scripts and recorded those so it sounds like a conversation and that is probably a really really good if that answers your question it sounds like a real conversation it sounds like we're just throwing it off the top of our heads and it took a hundred well tens and dozens of hours even to get to the point of of being able to be performed as if it's a real conversation and that's before you get to editing in multiple takes so we're very slowly working on that and it's going to be called um sorry everyone the tumblers willy podcast okay uh any reason why yeah but i'm not gonna say right now okay i can't say no no but it's not as bad as it sounds it sounds excellent it does what where does the stimulus come from the initial story oh just mucking around with my power andy as i say he's a tv writer in america he's out in l.a and we were on zoom when lockdown started and we just started improvising this bit to amuse his son and after about after this improvisation had gone far for about 35 minutes i said i think we should try and make this in into a world into a podcast and that was the that was my mistake and anders mistake was saying yeah that sounds like a good idea so if you parked um the lincoln poops oscar lincoln poops or is that oh actually so yeah so me and my friend carrie quinlan who's a brilliant uh actor or actress or whatever we say these days and comedian i i'm not gonna say comedienne that's awful um she's a great actor and comedian carrie quinlan a good friend of mine and a good friend of mine good friend of mine showbiz and um we have this podcast called ask the ninja poops where we have kids ask us whatever questions occurs to them and we just lie to them in in the most entertaining way we know how and we're actually talking about doing another series oh great because we used to get kids into the studio with us and um have them it's going to be harder at the moment so we thought probably we we're going to look at doing somewhere we get asked for questions online right and just have us doing them so we won't have the kids there but it will be a slightly different but i think we get yeah we're really itching to do some more because they're really cool the giggling kids in the background is pretty uh it's pretty great it is it is it is we did what we we did a christmas episode where we just asked for questions and we had our friend mark who works at the podcast place that we worked with he was our question master who collated and we we had him play we had a bit going where we were like you're gonna be called what was he called doodles or something the christmas elf not dude also oh jingles yeah right and and his shtick was like i don't i'm a grown man i've got two children jingles and we're going like just you there are kids listening well they're a kid you're you're jingles you're i'm a grown man i'm six foot one you're jingles the christmas elf and so well even if there aren't kids in the studio we can find other games true true i love i do love that how you give the kids so much verbal abuse oh yeah that is always fun it is and just you can really insult small children to their faces without any consequences and i particularly enjoyed it i wouldn't recommend i wouldn't i trust me me and carrie are professionals yeah don't try this at home no no no we it it's a fine art of insulting children and making them enjoy that and i wouldn't recommend it to you it is a particularly good bit of the show you're right you're right now you put me off great great there you go

sorry for anyone any kids listening no more fun because the failing writers have told me not to sorry guys how are we wrong no i was just going to say my my teenage kids are strictly speaking are way too old for it uh we listened to it in the car a lot oh that's nice well then we'll try and make some more yeah please do please do however they come out it will be fun to get back on that horse again andy thank you so much yeah really thank you for having me i love talking this stuff so uh yeah it was really interesting yeah genuinely interesting well that's some very good points where people say it was i genuinely liked the present you got me for my birthday okay i really i really know a lot of it some a lot of it was really interesting

yeah yeah yeah i got so many more questions but we need to we need to let you go don't we because that's that's awesome up to you guys i've got i've got nothing to do this is my life i i really wanted to ask you about the musical version of mr gom and the dancing bear this interview is over

that says everything i need to know thank you very much this year the dave's edinburgh comedy award has aptly been won by a man called dave according to judges dave baird 42 from bristol stood out because his set was so unfunny it was actually very funny yeah i mean i'd been doing bits of comedy for years like on and off like you know a bit stand up sketches sitcoms um then we were just living christmas dinner and i read out one of the jokes in the crackers and uh yeah i i'd never had such a great reaction you know falling about the place so and it all just sort of snowballed from there really see that's a little christmas snowball nevermind from sitting around the house thinking about writing to performing stand-up comedy in front of packed out stadium venues dave's road to success has been almost completely implausible right hang on just let me um

all right okay um what carol is heard in the desert oh camel ye faithful

oh and it's been unbelievable you know the response uh i just pop a cracker and uh read out the joke i mean it's it's pretty easy to be honest i did try and do one of my own jokes once but um it didn't go down very well so i'm just i'm sticking with this for now okay let's uh let's let's try another one um right um what do you get if you cross santa with a detective santa clues

yeah yeah bring it on yeah keep it coming yeah applaud laugh yes baby after wake up yes hey what wake up dave hey oh dave you nodded off me oh john was banging on about shakespeare or something you just you just went you just zonked out like like

hey but you're sad you missed that now aren't you bearded silly i am genuinely genuinely sorry i missed that that sounded like a lot of silly boy i i i got chills listening to that yeah yeah i'm not sure chills is the right word good chills the good chills oh good yeah okay yeah yeah but no it was good that's like a that's like a a must listen i think i think i mean well yeah all writers should hear that yeah so you're saying that though it like it's just happened so maybe say it's a must listen before we play it not just like just yeah that's a good point actually he's got a handful of people agreeing with you going yeah it's a shame more people wouldn't let you right well maybe they'll go and tell other people i hope so that's what we do hopefully to listen yeah that would be nice but there were a lot of things to take out of that in terms of sort of you know writing method and that usual thing wasn't it about just get some stuff down don't worry too much about it just get some things in there but what was a really good one was when he was talking about um like using specific names between characters having the characters um i think somebody else another guest we interviewed said something like that was it chris paling said something about he once he decided to always refer to a character by their full name it gave him a better like understanding of who they were i think that was him but anyway i sort of i've tried that and make sure that i always refer to characters in the same way some some of them it's first name some second name some like full title and it really helps to sort of cement who that person is in your own mind as you're right definitely and do you know what i've done i've actually stuck a post-it on my shelf in the study that says andy stanton says just right forward so um that's that's my little that's my level

i think it's a good it's a good lesson for life as well isn't it just just a blunder on regard at the moment yeah yeah don't worry too much about whether you're doing the right thing uh just get on with it just just you know live in the moment get on with living your life i wonder if i wonder if the um like we've spoken to quite a few successful people but do you want do you think with andy do you think there are any downsides to being so successful in the world of children's books do you know what i mean what in terms of if you want to do something else well yeah it just it looks very uh enviable doesn't it his career but i was wondering whether you how pigeonholed you get do you know what i mean i wonder if it's actually harder in some ways to like swerve and do something else yes again john that would have been a good question to ask again you're right right here during the actual yeah i suppose so isn't it does it just open doors whatever you you know what i mean because you're famous for something that really is something you'd have to ask somebody who's ever had any sort of success remind me next time we interview somebody who's successful yeah i mean you seem quite happy in it yeah yeah yeah but what have we got coming up in the future well next week is a bit it's a bit of an interesting one we've got speaking of swerves we've got a bit of a swerve aren't we yeah we're interviewing i guess you could describe him as a an accidental author yeah absolutely that'd be fair hmm interesting do you know what i will definitely be there for that one nothing wild horses will not keep you away from the next good night unfortunately i don't think you've read through the spelling writers podcast rule book uh not the amended if you intentionally miss an interview for reasons that can't be corroborated by the other two horse then you are on a a one interview ban what's it gonna be this interview's gotta be behind closed doors i'm afraid so yes you will be bloody hell wow you know hey you look you do the crime you don't do the interview time fine i clearly stayed fine you do it then you go you go to your bedroom dave i will never think about what you've done yeah and i said think just think okay what are you doing in there yeah thinking all right but who's the interview with it's with don't tell him john okay okay yeah don't tell him you've been a bad boy don't deserve to know fine don't tell me it's simon griffin simon griffin who has written a book with a very rude title

you could beep it couldn't you tell me

sorry do it all right do it again i'll beep it uh the book is called [ __ ] apostrophes oh do you like to swear again john you little tinker and he's also written a book called [ __ ] good manners tom i'm not doing it okay call me a little tinker again though if you like that yeah i like it you let the payments lapse on the beep machine again you gotta

seems to work actually i think maybe you just weren't vehement enough with you swearing john try it again but like really give it some okay uh yeah his second book is called [ __ ] good manners there you go you said it worked that time yeah yeah just needs to be it's about stuff isn't it yeah you just got to give it a bit yeah um yeah but really interesting how he basically accidentally wrote a book it's an excellent book it's a it's a flipping best seller it is a brilliant idea if you're looking for a christmas present for an awkward to buy for person that doesn't mind swearing titles in a book yeah it's uh it's a good idea for that isn't it it is it is and it also it will also teach you how to use apostrophes properly and you know we all could do better there couldn't we i'm sure we could but until then um it's probably [ __ ] time to say goodbye you're just trying to give tom a bit of extra work yeah yeah

before we go though i just wanted to say we've had an entry for our new feature that doesn't have a name yet how exciting is that so we'll play that out next week as well cool i can't wait very excited about that um maybe maybe this this week we would call it look at my [ __ ] book read this you [ __ ] um yeah great brilliant well that's something to look forward to yeah but more merrier if you've got if you want to do a 30 second pitch for your book that's on sale wherever it is just do it email it to us or tweet us or whatever you get it to carry a pigeon we don't care yeah as long as it's a voice memo of you talking about your book for 30 seconds exactly probably not on cassette though i don't think has anyone got a cassette player anymore oh yeah no i could do cassettes of course you can of course of course yeah definitely yeah well until then let's go let's go home go home and uh have a couple of play carry on carry on writing chat on to the last week of nanowrimo rimo where i only need to write about 50 000 words hey guys you got

i just um i think everything that you can take out though i just i just hope that andy can swallow his chair i know it's so true yeah so true it sounds like such a great chair doesn't it like real it'll

where's everybody gone

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Andy Stanton

Andy Joel Stanton is an English children's writer. He grew up in the London suburbs of Harrow and Pinner and attended the Latymer School in Hammersmith. He lives in North London. Stanton is best known for his 'Mr Gum' book series, by which he made a popular contribution to contemporary children's literature.