What was your favourite children’s book as a child?I didn’t really start reading “proper” books until my teens – it wasn’t that I didn’t want to read, more that I disliked the books that teachers and librarians were offering me. Instead, I became obsessed by the interactive Fighting Fantasy gamebooks created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. I must have collected about twenty-five of them, and would read and re-read them endlessly (which the format of course encouraged you to do).
If I was growing up nowadays, I suppose I might be labelled a reluctant reader and would probably play video games instead. I sometimes wonder if I would have become a writer without the bridge to literacy that the Fighting Fantasy books (and also comics) provided.
What was your favourite children’s magazine/comic/annual as a child?I grew up with the classic IPC comics of the 1980s, like Buster, Wow and Whizzer & Chips. There was nothing more exciting than hearing them land on the doormat on a Saturday morning, and I generally devoured them in one sitting. My childhood was a bit of a grim time, so those comics provided a welcome ray of sunshine for me.
Whizzer and Chips was a particularly great concept: two rival comics that were literally bound together. The comics even encouraged you to take sides – were you a Whizz-Kid or a Chip-ite? The idea proved so influential that when I came to create a fanzine with my friend in the early Nineties, we instead made two rival fanzines and stapled them back-to-back.
What is your favourite children’s book as an adult?
It’s ironic that I didn’t read many children’s books as a child, because now I read almost nothing else! Picking a favourite is always really hard, though, because there are so many good ones. If I was to choose the book that had the most emotional effect on me, it would be Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr Seuss. I discovered that a couple of years ago – shortly after a bout of depression – and it really spoke to me.