I’m very excited to be a part of this blog tour hosted by Stripes Publishing. Both of these books are excellent reads and I would highly recommend them! I’ll have a review up for Beaky Malone later today, but first, here’s a guest post from author Barry Hutchison about his own school days.
Barry’s School Days
Hello! I’m Barry Hutchison, author of (among other stuff) the Beaky Malone series, book two of which – Worst Ever School Trip – has just been published.
My primary school never went on school trips anywhere, at least none that I can remember, anyway. The furthest we ever got was the library once a month, and even then only if the teacher could be bothered going out in the rain.
Once I got to high school, I went on a trip to London with the school. As the school was situated in the Highlands of Scotland, this involved a fifteen hour coach trip, highlights of which included a ten-person chain reaction of vomit, and someone drawing a Hitler moustache on me while I slept. In permanent marker. Under the right lighting conditions, you can still see it now.
When the chance to go on the trip again the following year came up, I politely declined.
So, the majority of my ‘school trip memories’ revolve around the library, and it was there, one fateful day, that something happened which changed my life…
Just to forewarn you, it’s not as exciting as it sounds. I realise I’ve probably built it up a bit too much with that last sentence. It wasn’t aliens or anything like that, so don’t get your hopes up.
I was… oooh… seven, maybe. I was a quiet kid, and had no interest in football or, to be honest, any other sport in the history of the world. Which was a shame, because my school was football crazy. If you weren’t any good at football, you were looked down on. If you didn’t like football, you were weird.
I, needless to say, was weird.
But that was fine, and I didn’t care. I spent all my spare time reading comics. Not books at that stage, but I’d pore over comics, studying every panel, much to my teacher’s dismay. She wasn’t a fan of comics, and regularly ridiculed me for reading them.
Anyway, we went to the library for our visit and were introduced to a new librarian, Mrs Mcallister. The teacher made us all tell Mrs Mcallister what our favourite books were, and made a point of saving me for last.
When it came to my turn, the teacher jumped in before I could talk and said, “Oh, Barry doesn’t read books. He likes comics.” I still remember her face, and the way she spat the word out like it left a dirty taste in her mouth.
Mrs Mcallister raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really?” she said, and I felt this hot, burning feeling rushing up from my stomach, like I was about to cry. “Wait there.”
The librarian hopped up off her chair, vanished into the back room, then emerged staggering under the weight of a massive pile of comics. She dumped the whole lot in front of me, said, “Enjoy!” then spent the next five minutes explaining to the purple-faced teacher how great comics were.
I spent the next several weeks in that library, coming back every day to work my way through this goldmine of old Beanos, Dandys and even – to my awe and disbelief – some American comics like Spider-Man, Superman and more.
When I’d worked my way through them, Mrs Mcallister gave me a book she’d bought in for me about superheroes.
I read it in four hours, and was back for more that afternoon.
In the weeks that followed, I worked my way through dozens of books. I’d ask Mrs Mcallister for a book about robots, or monsters, or vampires or whatever, and she’d think for a moment, then zoom off and find me one.
Then came that fateful day. You know the one. I mentioned it up there somewhere.
I’d seen something on TV the night before about ninjas, and now needed a dose of some ninja-based reading material, stat. I burst through the library doors, and asked Mrs Mcallister for her finest ninja-related tale.
She thought for a moment. “Hmm,” she said. “I haven’t got a book about ninjas.”
I deflated. “Oh,” I said.
Then Mrs Mcallister reached under the counter of her desk and brought out a notebook. She fished in her pen holder until she found her sharpest pencil, then handed them both to me.
“Go and write a book about ninjas,” she said.
And I did. And it was bloody awful. But Mrs Mcallister didn’t care. She wrote my name and the title on the spine of the notebook, and she put it on the shelf next to all the other books.
You know that moment in films, when something magical happens and a supernatural light shines down on the main character, accompanied by the sound of a heavenly choir? Imagine that happened. I mean it didn’t, obviously – that would’ve been terrifying – but imagine it did, because that’s how it felt.
I’d written a book. My name was on a book on a shelf in my library.
And I haven’t looked back since.