A couple of years ago, I set out to discover the best children’s literature so that I could share them with the children I teach. One of the first authors I stumbled upon was David Solomons. At the time, his debut novel – My Brother Is A Superhero – was busy winning prizes left, right and centre.
“David’s books inspire even the most reluctant of young readers”
Since then, I’ve shared his books with every class I’ve worked with. If there’s one thing I can say, it’s that the books always go down a storm. They’re packed with adventure and laugh out loud humour. Often I find myself unable to carry on reading to the class because I’m in fits of laughter.
Yet the thing that stands out the most for me is the way David’s books inspire even the most reluctant of young readers. His books are always in demand – in fact there is an eager list of children desperately waiting their turn to borrow one of our copies from school. Such is his status in our school that our Year 6 leavers are each receiving a copy of his latest book.
With that in mind, David seemed the obvious choice for my first Author of the Month. Throughout July, I’ll be featuring David’s books – check out my review which will be published on Saturday. However, to kick things off and to celebrate the release of his latest book, My Arch Enemy Is A Brain In A Jar, I caught up with David to ask him a few questions.
1)It’s clear you know a lot about superheroes and must read a lot of comics. Who is your favourite superhero?
The truth is I’m no superhero aficionado. When I began writing the first book in the series I had to do a lot of work to make sure that the comic-book expert character of Luke Parker sounded as if he knew what he was talking about – because I don’t! I know a little more now, but I still rely on the internet when I need to know what material Hawkman’s chest harness is made from, for example.
2) One of the selling points about your books is that way the humour works on many levels. I quite often find myself and the class’ TA in fits of laughter moments after a the children have been tickled by something else. Is this an effect you set out to create or does this just reflect your own sense of humour?
It’s mostly the latter. As my wife will testify, I have the sense of humour of an eleven-year-old boy, joined to the experience of a middle-aged man. I think that comes across.
3) Each book ends with a cliffhanger, that has me begging for the next book. How long can you keep the series going for?
The cliffhangers are fun. I’d say that most of the time I write them without knowing how they’re going to develop in the next book. I like setting myself the challenge of figuring out how to make them work! And as for how long I can go on like this, the next book in the series – number 5 – will be the final one. You heard it here first.
4) Which other children’s authors/books have inspired you as an author?
I don’t read a great deal of contemporary children’s fiction, other than what I read to my own children. Pamela Butchert is the current star in our house. Growing up my mum took me to the local library every Saturday and I’d head straight for the science-fiction section. Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Philip K Dick. I loved Willard Price’s ‘Adventure’ series too. The author who I’d say influenced me the most was Douglas Adams.
5) Tough question here. In My Brother Is A Superhero, Luke diverts a security guard’s attention by asking the age old question – who would win in a contest between Batman and Superman. My question to you though is who would win in a contest between Star Lad, Superman or Batman?
Depends what they were competing in. Maths test? Star Lad every time.
6) And finally, if there was one thing you could say to the children who follow mrdaviesreads.co.uk, what would you say?
When I visit a school, bringing my shiny novels and my slick (sometimes!) presentation, I like to remind the children that it took me a long time and a lot of perseverance to get to this point. I’ve failed a lot throughout my career and though it’s tough to take at the time, I can now see that those failures weren’t the end of the world and, in fact, helped shaped the future I’m now living. So, don’t be afraid of failing. You don’t need superpowers to get on in the world – perseverance will take you a long way.
**A huge thank you to David for taking the time from his busy schedule to answer the questions and for providing me with a copy of My Arch Enemy Is A Brain In A Jar.**