JUST IMAGINE: You began your career writing for TV & film. Was writing for children something you always wanted to do?
DAVID SOLOMONS: My first feature film was an adaptation of E Nesbit’s ‘Five Children and It,’ for the Jim Henson Company, so I began my career writing for children. Also, I have a terrible fondness for puns, which is frowned upon in ‘grown-up’ fiction, but welcomed – even encouraged – in children’s, so it was inevitable that I’d find my way here.
JI: My Arch-Enemy Is a Brain In a Jar is the fourth instalment in Luke’s adventures. Will this be the final book in the series or is there more to come?
DS: In the latest adventure our heroes receive a mysterious invitation to Great Minds Leisure Park, not just the most rubbish theme park they’ve ever been to, but one with a squishy, evil secret. I’ve decided that it’s the penultimate book in the series, which means there’s one more to come. After that, I’ll start a new series, which I’m very excited to get going on, but about which I will say nothing for now!
JI: Do you have a favourite superhero? (Fictional or real life)
DS: My introduction to comics was through Spider-Man and I loved the Superman films of the late 70s. When I got a bit older I went dark with Batman and Judge Dredd (though I’m not sure the latter would qualify exactly as a superhero.)
JI: You were recently stated by The Guardian as one of only five children’s authors on their list of “Fresh voices: 50 writers you should read now” and have also won literary prizes for your earlier books. How important is this sort of recognition to you & do you think about it when starting to write your next book?
DS: Funny books don’t tend to win awards, so I’ve been taken aback by the recognition I’ve received. I don’t find myself thinking about the awards when I’m writing. There’s no added pressure. If anything, having won a few takes the pressure off. While I try to make every book as good as it can be, I don’t feel I have anything to prove.
JI: How do you encourage your own children to read and do you have any favourite books you like to read with them?
DS: My son, Luke, is in Year 1 and my daughter, Lara, still in nursery. My wife and I read to them every night without fail – it anchors the day for us. Luke couldn’t be less interested in superheroes, and he’s still a bit young for my books, but he’s recently discovered Pamela Butchart’s Wigglesbottom Primary series, which we absolutely adore. We’ve read them together (and I found him reading one on his own – yay!). Another favourite that we revisit is ‘The Lemonade Genie’ by Adrian Boote. It’s part of a series that’s out of print, but this one in particular is an excellent funny book. Lara loves dinosaurs and is fascinated by the Dr Who book I’ve been writing. So much so that every time we do drawing she wants to scribble her own Who story.
JI: And finally, what can we look forward to reading from you next?
DS: I’ve been busy this year! “My Arch-Enemy is a Brain in a Jar” is out in June, and “The Secret in Vault 13 – A Dr Who Story” comes out in November.
David Solomons was born in Glasgow and is a screenwriter and author. His first feature film was an adaptation of Five Children and It.
His first novel for children, My Brother is a Superhero, won the Waterstones Children’s Prize 2016 and the British Book Industry Award’s Children’s Book of the Year 2016. The second book in the series My Gym Teacher Is an Alien Overlord was thewinner of a Lollies Laugh Out Loud 2017 Book Award.
Other books in the series are My Evil Twin is a Supervillain & the latest title My Arch-Enemy is a Brain In a Jar. Rights in the books have to date been sold to 15 territories, all of them on planet Earth. So far.