I think I might fall in love with Kenneth Oppel. He likes trains. So do I. On the other hand, he was obviously one of those annoying child prodigies, getting published far too early. I’ll think about it.
He’s got a new book out, The Boundless. It’s about a train. And because of that Kenneth is here to tell us a few things about himself that we didn’t know before:
How many books did you write before the one that was your first published book?
Well, after seeing Star Wars when I was eleven, I started a sci-fi epic called Starship (then retitled Rebellion!), and wrote several chapters in a school exercise book. Lots of laser guns and spaceships exploding. It was a complete rip off of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica and I never finished it.
After that I wrote a book over two summer holidays when I was 14 and 15, and with the help of Roald Dahl, got it published just as I was leaving school. It was a very lucky break, and a very early start as a published writer.
Best place for inspiration?
A moving train.
Would you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Perhaps you already do?
Never. Writing’s hard work. I want all the credit.
What would you never write about?
Through your writing: the most unexpected person you’ve met, or the most unexpected place you’ve ended up in?
It was winter and my car slipped off the road and I was quite badly hurt. Luckily a nurse saw and came to my aid. It turned out she was my Number One fan, a lovely person, but quite insane. She was unhappy with the ending of one of my books. She kept me prisoner in her house until I rewrote the ending.
Which of your characters would you most like to be?
Do you think that having a film made of one of your books would be a good or a bad thing?
Only Good. You get money; you sell books. If the movie’s well done, or gets a big release, you sell loads of the book. Even if the movie’s a stinker, it’s still a plus, because your book remains the same book, and everyone will eventually forget about the rotten movie — and maybe someday another filmmaker will do it right.
What is the strangest question you’ve been asked at an event?
‘What kind of hair product do you use?’
Do you have any unexpected skills?
I can play tunes on my teeth. I’m best at Jingle Bells.
The Famous Five or Narnia?
Narnia, but only for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. After that, it’s Enid Blyton all the way.
Who is your most favourite Swede?
Tough one. Someone from Abba, but it seems mean to pick one randomly.
How do you arrange your books at home? In a Billy? By colour, or alphabetically?
I used to have a Billy, and arranged things by size and colour for maximum aesthetic effect. Now I have too many books, and go alphabetically.
Which book would you put in the hands of an unwilling eight-year-old boy reader?
Silverwing. Because I wrote it.
If you have to choose between reading or writing, which would it be?
Did a human being write this question?
In my defense I have to say I stole the question from a lovely Irishman. He is pretty human, I reckon.
Number One fans should always be treated with caution, unless they are me. I am harmless, although the hostage idea has its merits. I’ll think about it.
And if I could make a request? Pachelbel’s Canon would be lovely. Thank you.