Andy Stanton's Tips for Budding Authors!

We were thrilled to have the chance to interview one of Britain's top children's authors, Andy Stanton, writer of the ingenious and hilarious Mr. Gum series. Find out how he comes up with ideas and characters for his stories, what he thinks makes a great bedtime story, what his favourite bedtime story is, and lots more...

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Check out the video below for the brilliant (and hysterical!) Bedtime Story Competition interview with Andy Stanton! (You can also read the transcript below...)

Author Questions

1) How do you come up with an idea for a story?

I have lots of ideas all the time. You only need one idea to start writing a story. If you're really stuck for an idea, go for a long walk or do something boring, like doing the dishes or something. It takes your mind off things and an idea will pop into your head. Once you have your idea, sit down and see if it turns into a story.

2) How do you come up with your main character?

I think once you've got a story going, the right character just appears in the story at the right time. When I was writing Mr. Gum, I got to chapter 5 and thought, hang on, it's a kids' book, but I haven't had any kids in it yet - I'd better have a kid! Who shall I have? Well, everyone so far has just been a horrible, nasty old man; I'd better have a little girl. Lo and behold, Polly, my heroine, popped up. She arrived in the story just when she was needed.

3) What inspired you to become a writer?

I love reading! I've always loved reading and I still love reading. I read everything I can get my hands on. I'm just so inspired by loads of other books and writers out there and always have been. I always wanted to end up doing it myself, so I've been lucky enough to end up doing it myself!

4) What do you think makes a great bedtime story?

Short-ish chapters are good, so it's not too much for anyone but it's just enough for a nice slice. Quite exciting endings to chapters, too, cliffhangers and things - plus cosiness. I like cosiness in a bedtime story.

5) If you could give our young writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Just get to the end of the first version of the story. It doesn't matter if it's a bit rubbish; it doesn't matter if things don't quite make sense. Just keep going and keep going and once you've got right to the end of the story, then you can go back later and edit it and make it better.

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Quick Fire Questions

What's your favourite bedtime storybook?

Probably The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. It's a great book. It's actually called 'A Children's Story in Five Nights'. Brilliant, brilliant book.

If you could be best friends with anyone from a book, who would it be?

Probably not the Cat in the Hat, because he'd just wreck your house, wouldn't he? Maybe Lyra from Northern Lights. I like Lyra because she likes to have a laugh - run around all over the place and jump on roofs. Maybe I don't... actually want to jump on roofs with her, though...

Did you have an imaginary friend growing up?

Ooh, I don't know... [Andy starts talking to an empty space.] Mr. Wiggly? Did I have an imaginary friend growing up? What's that? Oh, Mr. Wiggly says no, I never had an imaginary friend in my life. Thanks, Mr. Wiggly!

What's your favourite word?

I go through changes on my favourite word. I just like the sound of words. Sometimes it's 'snooker', sometimes it's 'captain', sometimes 'snorkel' - that's a bit like 'snooker', isn't it? At the moment, it's a very simple one: 'hello' in a silly voice. I find it hilarious. If you say any word over and over again, it sounds ridiculous. Hello! Hello! Hello! What do you say to someone when you meet them? Hello! Doesn't sound real, does it?

What makes a good goody and a bad baddy?

Don't make your goody flawless; give them a few imperfections. No-one wants a, 'Oh, I'm such a goody-goody-two-shoes!' Put a bit of an edge on the goody. In reverse, for a baddy, give them an element of sympathy. Don't make the goody too good; don't make the baddy too bad. Also, I like villains who are really stupid and hilarious, like my villain, Mr. Gum.

Who's your best friend? What makes them so good?

I've got a few best friends. One of my best friends from writing is a writer called Anthony McGowan - Tony McGowan. We just get on! Friends are great.

Tell us something we didn't know about you...

Well, I am... actually... invisible. [Long, unsettling stare.] But that doesn't show up on video.

Remember to check out all of our Andy Stanton books to see for yourself why kids love his stories so much!

  • AVXPM 3 years +
    3 years +
    • £10.39
    • RRP £12.99
    • Save £2.60Save 20.00%
    A hilariously anarchic tale from the inimitable Andy Stanton, author of Mr Gum, and much loved illustrator Neal Layton. Can a boy drink the sea? Surely it's impossible! But Danny McGee does just that - and now he has his sights on other things. Soon he's swallowing trees, flies, fleas, peas, mountains ...where will it end?! Andy Stanton has won a string of awards for his Mr Gum books, including the Red House Children's Book Award, the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, and the Blue Peter Book Award for Best Book With Pictures. Neal Layton is the multi-award-winning illustrator of the Emily Brown books.
  • BBKYH
    • £5.59
    • RRP £6.99
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    Hilarious story with trademark Stanton-esque nonsense. Matthew Buzzington has a superpower - he can turn into a fly! It's just that it hasn't happened yet, which is pretty bad timing really because there are robbers and flying pineapples out to get him. Can he make his superpower work? A fun, chunky format including stickers. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers aged 7+
  • AJHAR
    • £6.89
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £0.10Save 1.0000000000000000621724893790087662637233734130859375%
    Hilarious comedy with canary sound effects from the top selling author of the Mr Gum books. Sterling Thaxton is in love. In love with Lizzie Harris - the beautiful new girl. Her hair is the colour of magic. Her nose is as sweet as music. Her arms are as slender as rainbows. Problem is, she's not interested. Luckily a small yellow canary turns up with some excellent advice! Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers of 8+
  • AKHTR
    (1)
    • £6.29
    • RRP £6.99
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    Shabba me whiskers! It's one of those Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton. They're only the craziest, funnest most amazing books for children in the world. Mr Gum and the Goblins Well, that old roo-de-lally Mr Gum and the hideous Billy William the Third are once more mucking things up for everyone. They're a-schemin' and a-hatchin' an' making their bad plans up on Goblin Mountain. And why? Because they're raising up an army of goblins to stink up the town of Lamonic Bibber once and for all! Can the brave travellers (the wise old man Friday O'Leary and the small girl Polly) make it past the Three Impossible Challenges of Goblin Mountain and save the town from a fate worse than something very bad indeed? In an epic tale of courage, valour and plain idiocy only one thing is sure: The truth is a lemon meringue! Mr Gum and the Goblins is the third book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. Praise for Mr Gum: 'Smooky palooki! This book is well brilliant!' - Jeremy Strong 'Worryingly splendid' - Guardian NOT FOR BORERS!
  • AKHCZ
    • £6.89
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £0.10Save 1.0000000000000000621724893790087662637233734130859375%
    Shabba me whiskers! It's one of those Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton. They're only the craziest, funnest most amazing books for children in the world. Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree Good evening and welcome to a tale of forests! Of legendary beasts! Of misbehaving children! Of caterpillars called Graham! And of a great big BEEFER of a cherry tree! But what dark secrets are hidden in that tree, where the leaves grow thick and green? Polly intends to find out, and she intends to find out by finding out. What will she find out? Read this book and you'll find out! Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree is the seventh book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. Praise for Mr Gum: 'Smooky palooki! This book is well brilliant!' - Jeremy Strong 'Worryingly splendid' - Guardian NOT FOR BORERS!
  • AKHDB
    • £6.89
    • RRP £6.99
    • Save £0.10Save 1.0000000000000000621724893790087662637233734130859375%
    Shabba me whiskers! It's one of those Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton. They're only the craziest, funnest most amazing books for children in the world. Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear Good evening. Do you like bears called Padlock? Course you do. Do you like hot-air balloons? Course you do. Do you like tall sailing ships with mad sea captains, and horrifying old villains and words like 'wab!', 'tungler' and 'kelp'? COURSE you do! Well, guess what, you lucky little nibbleheads? This book's got all of those things - and a lot more besides. It's a rollicker! It's a frolicker! It's a funtime sun-time yollicker! So what you waiting for? GET READING! Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear is the fifth book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. Praise for Mr Gum: 'Smooky palooki! This book is well brilliant!' - Jeremy Strong 'Worryingly splendid' - Guardian NOT FOR BORERS!
  • AKHGM
    • £6.29
    • RRP £6.99
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    Shabba me whiskers! It's one of those Mr Gum books by Andy Stanton. They're only the craziest, funnest most amazing books for children in the world. Mr Gum in 'The Hound of Lamonic Bibber' Bumper Book Mr Gum's back! But what's he up to this time? Oh, dreadful things my friends, dreadful things indeed. It seems he's found himself a brand new treat - rancid kebabs just dripping with dirty grey sauce. And he just can't get enough of them. He's gotta have more! More! Less! I mean, More! But not everyone's too happy about Mr Gum's new dinnertime arrangements and soon the town of Lamonic Bibber is gearing up for war. Can Polly and her friends save the town from being torn apart? Will Mr Gum's hunger ever be satisfied? And who on earth is Thora Gruntwinkle? All will be revealed when you read "What's For Dinner, Mr Gum?" You'll see a gingerbread man driving through London! You'll see an annoying little monkey driving everyone mad! You'll see Friday O'Leary falling asleep in a hedge! Yes, it's all there in glorious black and white, my friends. Except for the cover, which is in colour. It's Bonus. Andy Stanton's internationally best-selling series has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. Praise for Mr Gum: 'Smooky palooki! This book is well brilliant!' - Jeremy Strong 'Worryingly splendid' - Guardian NOT FOR BORERS!
  • BDSY 3 years +
    3 years +
    (6)
    • £4.99
    • RRP £11.99
    • Save £7.00Save 58.0000000000000017053025658242404460906982421875%
    The winner of Book People's Bedtime Story Competition 2016, Isabel Harris' The Moon Man is an exciting book and truly is one of a kind. It tells the tale of two sets of animal friends who view a scarecrow in very different ways...

    We asked children aged between 5 and 11 to let their imaginations run wild and write a picture book of between 200 and 800 words based around animals. This fantastic story, chosen by a panel of celebrity parents and publishing experts and illustrated by Ada Grey, is the judges' favourite and is perfect for reading at bedtime.

    Sold exclusively at BookPeople.co.uk, proceeds from this book will be donated to Action for Children, a UK charity which provides vital services, support and campaigns for disadvantaged children, young people and their families.
  • ARBWY
    (1)
    • £6.29
    • RRP £6.99
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    This is the 10th anniversary and modern classic edition of the bestselling and award-winning, You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum 'It's time for action,' said Mr Gum to nobody in particular. 'Nasty action.' Good evening. Mr Gum is a complete horror who hates children, animals, fun and corn on the cob. This book's all about him. And an angry fairy who lives in his bathtub. And Jake the dog, and a little girl called Polly. And there's heroes and sweets and adventures and everything. You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum! is the first book in the internationally best-selling series by Andy Stanton, which has won everything from the Blue Peter Book Award (twice) to the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and the Red House Children's Book Award. This edition celebrates the 10th anniversary of its first publication. "Worryingly splendid." (Guardian). You can discover all the Mr Gum books: You're a Bad Man, Mr Gum Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire Mr Gum and the Goblins Mr Gum and the Power Crystals Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear Wat's for Dinner, Mr Gum? Mr Gum and the Cherry Tree Mr Gum and the Secret Hideout.