Monday 28 September 2015

UKYA Extravaganza Blog Tour! Q&A with Ben Davis

Hi Ben! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your books?

Hi! I’m Ben, I’m 29 & ¾ and I write books for older kids and teens. I currently have three books out – The Private Blog of Joe Cowley, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley: Return of the Geek and Danny Dread. I have two more out next year, too – the third Joe Cowley book, titled Welcome to Cringefest, and a standalone called Grizzly Dadams. They’re all published by OUP.

Sum up your writing style in five words…

Silly, funny, heartfelt, brilliant, terrible.

What do you love the most about being a writer?

I love writing stuff that makes me laugh. Admittedly, that’s usually the most childish and stupid parts, but still. Here is an example of something that made me giggle from my latest work in progress:

‘You’re both nuts,’ said Dad through a mouthful of chicken curry. ‘The only good politician is one that keeps their nose out of my business and their hands out of my pockets. Remember when the lousy government closed down my safari park? They were all ‘you’re contravening health and safety laws’ this and ‘that’s not a lion, it’s a dog in a wig,’ that. They make me sick! Why do you ask, anyway?’

Idiocy. Pure idiocy.

How does your typical writing day go?

Well, I still work, so I usually get up early, do a bit of writing, then pick it back up when I get home. I know that sounds like a busy schedule, but I can totally cope with it. *eye twitches uncontrollably*

Your Joe Cowley books are written in diary format – what’s the biggest appeal in writing a book told in diary entries?

I love the looseness of it. You can throw in stuff that doesn’t necessarily add to the main plot, just to flesh out the character. It’s also a great way of getting into your MC’s head.

How much attention do you pay to reviews of your books?

None at all. I don’t check for new ones three times a day, and I CERTAINLY don’t add people who write bad ones to my top secret ‘enemies list.’

Who were the authors you loved reading when you were younger?

I know everyone says this but Roald Dahl. I also loved Dick King-Smith, partly because his books are brilliant and partly because his name is hilarious.

Can you remember the first book you read that really made an impression on you?

Matilda was a biggy when I was a kid. As a writer, it was probably a book called Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. It made me realise that you can be playful with form and include doodles and flights of fancy and other daft stuff, and that it’s possible to address dark topics in a light-hearted way.

What do you love the most about YA fiction?

I find teenage characters so much fun to write, because it’s a time when you’re trying desperately to make everyone think you’re really worldly, even though you have no idea what you’re doing. When you write comedy, that is a very rich seam to mine.

More generally, I like YA because anything goes. The only rule seems to be that your main character has to be a teenager, but there’s probably even an exception to that.

Is there a fellow author you’re most looking forward to meeting at UKYA Extravaganza?

Can I be a big creep and say all of them? I don’t often get the chance to hang out with other authors, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve already met Lee Weatherley and Bali Rai and they’re both lovely.

You can turn into any book character for 24 hours. Who would you pick and what would you get up to?

I’d turn into that Fifty Shades guy, renounce my degenerate lifestyle and become a monk. That’d make for a disappointing fourth book.

Best YA book you’ve read lately?

I haven’t read any YA lately, unfortunately. These days, when I’m writing, I only read stuff that’s completely different to what I do. That said, Wonder by RJ Palacio (is that YA?) is incredible. I was reading it on holiday while my wife was having an afternoon nap. When it got to the bit with the dog, my sobbing woke her up.

Book character you can relate to the most?

Matilda. I really wish I could move stuff with my mind.

Thing that distracts you the most from writing?

Social media, even though I find both Facebook and Twitter kind of annoying. I must be some kind of masochist.

Library or bookshop?

Can I say both? Of course I can. Both.

Print book or ebook?

Print. You can’t beat the smell of a real book. Does that make me sound weird?

Reading or writing?

Neither. As of now, I only communicate through interpretive dance.


Thanks, Ben! Follow the rest of the epic UKYA Extravaganza blog tour here:

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