Book Walrus Interviews ‘Spies in Disguise’ Author, Kate Scott
Kate Scott writes fiction for children. She also writes children’s television scripts, radio plays and poetry. Her agent is Eve White for books (www.evewhite.co.uk) and Yasmin McDonald at United Agents for scriptwriting. She posts writing competitions on Twitter (@KateScottWriter). You can read about Kate and try an extract of Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights on the Piccadilly Press website (http://www.piccadillypress.co.uk/children/kate-scott/spies-in-disguise-boy-in-tights.html).
Rachel and Dylan read and loved Spies in Disguise: Boy in Tights, and were thrilled when Kate agreed to answer some of their questions:
We liked the spy gadgets, especially the recording football. How did you come up with your ideas for them?
The great thing about writing a book about spies is that you get to watch spy TV programmes and call it “work”. In the next book, Joe and Sam are using a mix of real spy gadgets I’ve found from my “work research” and things I’ve made up. For Boy in Tights, I tried to think of objects that would be found in every school and then come up with a way to turn them into spy gadgets.
Do you think Joe/Josephine likes being a girl by the end of the book?
I don’t think Joe likes being a girl by the end of the book but I think he’s realised that girls aren’t all the same – and that boys and girls aren’t quite as different from each other as he thought.
Do you think boys would be different if they had to wear dresses?
They would have colder legs.
Generally, dresses are a bad idea. Especially in high winds.
This book goes very fast. What is the trick for writing a book that moves fast and never gets boring?
The writer Elmore Leonard said the best thing was to leave out the parts that readers skip. That’s good advice. Apart from that I think you need to have lots of action. It’s important that you end each chapter with the reader thinking “What’s going to happen next?” I have a note over my desk that says just that – “What next?” It reminds me that whatever else I am trying to do, the story should come first.
Do you have any other top writing tips for how to write funny books?
Hmm. I’d like some tips for how to write funny books myself. I think you can only write what makes you laugh – and then hope that someone out there feels the same way. Sometimes humour comes from the element of surprise, sometimes it’s a clever come back, sometimes it’s from something being a bit rude. You only have to say “bum” to my son and he falls about but a book just full of bums would probably get a bit boring.
Although my son might not agree.
Which funny author would you most like to meet?
There are lots of funny authors I’d love to meet but I think I’d be a bit nervous if I actually did. I’d be worried that I wouldn’t be able to make them laugh. Or that I’d get so nervous that I’d tell them a very silly joke like: “Why did the chicken cross the playground?” (“To get to the other slide”).
And then they’d look at me and there would be an ENORMOUSLY LONG AND VERY EMBARRASSING SILENCE.
What’s the funniest book you’ve ever read?
I have lots of favourite funny books. Here is a selection (in no particular order): The Dribblesome Teapots and Other Incredible Stories by Norman Hunter; You’re a Bad Man Mr Gum by Andy Stanton; Awful End by Philip Ardagh (his beard is also very funny – I think it should write its own books); Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren; The Talking Parcel by Gerald Durrell (which is SHOCKINGLY out of print at the moment) and everything that Frank Cottrell Boyce has written (he’s my hero). There are some really funny picture books that I love too: I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen; I’m the Best by Lucy Cousins and “Only Joking!” laughed the Lobster by Colin West. I also love the funny books that my author friends have written – Sara Grant, Steve Hartley and Mo O’Hara.
We read that your children sometimes help you make your books better. What suggestions did they give you for this book?
My daughter really likes Joe’s one-liners so she is always encouraging me to put more of those in. My son really likes the gadgets so I’m trying to put extra gadgets in the next book. They are both excellent writers so actually I’m hoping one day they will take over and do all the work for me.
When will the next book be out?
Boy in a Tutu will be published next April – I’m busy writing it right now.
That’s a complete lie isn’t it? Right now I’m answering your questions. But after I finish answering your questions, have a cup of tea, sort out the socks, and maybe do some more telly watching (I mean, “work research”), I’ll get on with writing it.
Do you do school visits? If so, do you make the boys wear dresses?
I haven’t done any school visits for the book yet but I will be doing some soon I hope. I will bring spy gadgets along and give some top spy disguise tips … dresses may be involved…
Can you remember anything funny that was written in your school reports when you were Joe’s age?
I can’t remember anything funny from my school reports but that’s probably because my memory is turning into a sieve and things keep falling out of it. I do remember being taught how to write a summary once and making my normally very serious teacher laugh because my summary was longer than the original piece.
I’m still like that today – I do go on a bit.