Monday, 2 February 2009

Tom Becker at the Salford Book Awards -Jan 2009

1.If you could dedicate this nomination to anyone, who would it be?

Well, Darkside is dedicated to my family, so it seems only fair that they also get the dedication for this nomination.

2. How old were you when you wrote your first story, and what was it about?

Hazarding a guess, probably about 5 or 6. I haven’t the foggiest idea what it would have been about – possibly something to do with the Wombles. Don’t ask me why.

3. Did you have an inspirational teacher at school who got you into writing? If so, tell us about him/her.

I was lucky enough to have some great teachers at school, but for me writing was always a personal thing. It was perhaps the one thing I didn’t need encouragement to do.

4. What's the worst job you ever had, growing up?

As a phenomenally lazy kid (and a pretty lazy adult), I’ve managed to avoid getting too many jobs. Having said that, working on a farm shop when I was 15 wasn’t great. I remember spending one Christmas Eve standing on the back of a truck chopping up sprout sticks. In the rain.

5. Who are your biggest non-literary influences (musicians, philosophers, artists)?

I’ve always listened to a lot of music. Sometimes when I’m struggling to write, I turn up the volume on my CD player and try to blast ideas into my head. Even if it doesn’t work, it’s worth it. My favourite band is – and will always be – an American group called Rocket from the Crypt.

6. Did the Darkside series spring up, complete, or did they start life as shorter stories?

Once I’d had the initial idea for Darkside, things came together pretty quickly. The first time I sketched anything out, the characters of Jonathan, Carnegie, Raquella and Vendetta were all there, which was a massive help. That’s not to say that there weren’t a host of false steps and wrong turnings before I finished the first book, but then that’s a perverse part of the fun.

7. What is it about Victorian England that attracts you as a writer?

I just think the period provides you with so many narrative opportunities. Victorian London was a sprawling megalopolis of a city, which boasted vast wealth and crippling poverty almost side-by-side. You can go from one extreme to the other in a matter of streets. And of course there’s also the seedy underbelly of crime, typified by the figure of Jack the Ripper, who is an essential part of Darkside.

8. Do you ever find yourself slipping in and out of your characters when you're not writing? i.e. do your characters spill over into everyday life?

Given some of the characters in my books, I think it’s probably best they stay in my head…

9. Kids that like to read a lot and sleep late and have their head in the clouds - can they be a success too? Do you think it's important for kids to daydream?

I struggle to get up before midday, so I hope so! I think everyone needs space to daydream now and again, no matter what they want to do with their life. For me, imagination is just like any other muscle – if you don’t exercise it, it’ll waste away.

10. Is novel-writing a great job? Or can it get boring and tedious like any other profession?

You spend enough time doing anything, it can have its less inspiring moments. When I’m stuck for ideas I can get pretty moody and frustrated. But when the writing’s going well, I can lose myself completely, and it brings me a sense of happy satisfaction that I wouldn’t swap for the world.

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