Mark Griffiths was 17 when he sold his first comedy material to Radio 4. By 18, he was writing for ‘Smith & Jones’ on BBC 1. More recently he worked as a writer on Charlie Brooker’s TV series and book ‘TV Go Home’.
His first children’s books were
‘Space Lizards Stole My Brain!’ and
‘Space Lizards Ate My Sister!’ (Book Walrus reviewer, Dylan, likes the sound of that one and wonders if Space Lizards are available for hire).
His latest book is the brilliantly silly Geek Inc.: Technoslime Terror (check out our review here: http://book-walrus.com/geek-inc-technoslime-terror/)
Mark Griffiths once described ‘I am the Walrus’ by the Beatles as one of his favourite songs. Which is nice. But Book Walrus would like to point out that there can be only one Walrus. And He is that Walrus.
With that sorted, Book Walrus asked Mark a few questions about himself and ‘Geek Inc.: Technoslime Terror':
Hello, Mark. Our reviewer, Dylan (a self-confessed 9 year-old geek) is curious – would you call yourself a geek?
Totally – in the modern sense of the word which means someone into science and sci-fi, etc, rather than the old sense, which meant a person in a freak show whose job it was to bite the heads off live chickens. I probably wouldn’t be much good at that.
Good to know. If you were a hero in a book, who would you want as your sidekick?
A flying dog would be pretty cool.
And, if you had a handful of technoslime, what would you do with it?
Great question! I’d spray some into a restaurant and watch everyone’s food spring to life.
Ugh! Scary! You obviously have an impressive imagination! Did you read a lot as a child?
I read all the time, usually science fiction. I can remember reading Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles when I was about 8. When I was 10 I first encountered Douglas Adams and got utterly hooked on his writing.
What benefits do you think kids get from reading?
All sorts. There’s the pure fun of following a story, going on a journey with the characters. Plus books are a terrific way to learn about how the world works.
You’ve written comedy for some fantastic TV and radio shows for adults. How was this different/similar to writing funny books for children?
Very little difference. You have to work just as hard to make the jokes work whomever you are writing for. A more important difference is which medium you are writing for. In a book, you have absolute freedom to imagine anything without having to worry about mundane things like the costs of hiring actors.
Do you have any top tips for writing ‘funny’?
Just tell the truth!
We hear you give good school visits! Do you enjoy them?
I love school visits. It’s so lovely to meet actual readers! I often run creative writing workshops in schools and the ideas the kids come up with are frequently phenomenal. I’ve found offering a signed book as a prize is a great incentive. And the questions kids ask are frequently brilliant. After one Q&A a little girl put up her hand and asked earnestly, “Who’s your celebrity crush?” (I eventually plumped for Winona Ryder).
Book Walrus enjoyed talking to Mark Griffiths and thinks Winona Ryder would be lucky to have him.