The lovely Michael Diack, author of The Super Spud Trilogy, has spared a few minutes to answer some of What’s Hot Blog’s questions with this author interview – enjoy!
1. What inspired you to be a writer?
I can’t say I decided to become a writer, the Super Spuds was just something I had in my head and I knew I needed to write the story. Writing makes me happy and I’m always writing, whether its short stories, Super Spud adventures or just plans for other novels, ideas are constantly flowing. I’d need to sell a few more copies first before I’d consider myself a writer properly, for now I’m just a debut author trying to stand out from the crowd with his quirky novel about crisp packets.
2. If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I studied geology at university and I’ve always been interested in the Earth. My childhood hero was Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak, where he tries to warn a town of an imminent volcanic eruption and goes on to save a woman and her family. I wanted to be that hero (and get the girl) and I always liked volcanos, but alas, my career didn’t turn out that way and now I find myself working in the Arabian desert writing stories about magical potatoes…
3. You’ve written three whole stories about spuds, exactly how did
this idea come to you?
I wrote the book at university when I was 19. I guess the target audience at the time of writing it were fellow students with the same kind of humour as me. Initially, there were lots more sexual innuendos and some mild swearing, in time I took these out and tried to make the book much more approachable for all age groups. Now there are no swear words, the Super Spud equivalent version of sex is holding hands, and the graphic violence is comic in its depiction.
My gut tells me the core target audience it will appeal to is still the student generation (18-22), and the best reviews have been from reviewers of this age range, but I honestly hope adults will find it enjoyable and younger readers, too. It came about after I remembered a short story I had written at primary school: Colin and Lucy are crisp packets who come to life after their use-by date and try to find the rubbish tip. At university, bored during a lecture on rocks, I remembered the story and the whole novel I finished in about a month. The book references many films and it is ultimately a tale of friendship, good versus evil and heroic acts of bravery.
4. Do you think lemon&vanilla and strawberries&cream should be made
into real crisp flavours?
I’d prefer strawberries and cream to be made into a real flavour than Brussels sprouts or garlic! I think out of all the unconventional flavours in the books, these two would be the most palatable if they were made into real flavours. It would probably be a very sweet taste though, and perhaps quite sickly. It would be awesome if someone from Walkers crisps read my book and helped promote it through a new limited time flavour like they’ve done in the past.
5. What tips can you give to any budding young writers?
If you truly believe in your work then never give up. It takes a lot of hard work and patience but as long as you love writing then no one can stop you pursuing your dream. I’d advise you to browse the forums like Book Blogs or Goodreads, as there is a load of help and discussions for writers on there.
The most important thing when writing your book is to know your audience. Investigate writers’ websites and blogs, as well as looking on Amazon at the kinds of reviews similar books receive. What seems to appeal the most? What kinds of things provoke strong negative criticism etc?
Look at the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook website too (https://www.writersandartists.co.uk) The best research of all is to look at other published authors – the successful ones who most closely match your own style/approach and type of book – and work out what it is that makes their books winners.
Look at the how they have structured their work, how they’ve used plot devices, how they have thought through their characterisation.
6. What’s your all time favourite book and why?
The Hobbit. I love everything by Tolkien and I always re-read The Hobbit every year. For me, it’s the perfect adventure story and it’s a credit to Tolkien’s skill that the book isn’t even that long. Everything is described so well without the need for a 1,000 pages and every page is exciting to read. I also love The Silmarillion and I cannot wait for the The Hobbit films to come out!
7. What are you working on next?
I’m currently writing another set of Super Spud adventures. The first book was a trilogy in the sense it revolved around three adventures: Colin, Cougar and King Martin, but I never intended for the story to end as it did. I was told by my editor to shorten the story, so I took out the last three chapters – the ending was still the same, though, with G-Boa on the run – and the story set up to be concluded. Truthfully, when it came to publishing the book, I didn’t know what to call it: The Super Spuds, The Super Spud Adventures, The Chronicles of the Super Spuds…The Super Spud Trilogy was a neat title and flowed off the tongue better – I didn’t mean to deceive anybody.
So yes, there will be another adventure (book four) that I’m writing now, bringing back characters who didn’t die (and some you thought did) and introducing some new flavour personalities. I’m learning from the feedback from the first novel, what people liked and what they didn’t. The book will still have the same wacky humour, but will revolve around the same core four characters and their adventures i.e. there isn’t going to be too many characters this time and a multitude of separate plots, so the reader should feel more connection with the story and main characters. This story is more conventional and is one big adventure where everything leads up to a final confrontation between good and evil. It sees the Super Spuds travel to China, America, sailing the Atlantic and fighting pirates and zombies. After that, I have some short stories and a few more ideas for novels.
8. Which writer, if any, would you compare yourself to?
I honestly couldn’t say, I don’t think I’m worthy to be compared to any successful writers at the moment. I read a lot of Bret Easton Ellis and I’m inspired by his style of writing and unconventionality.
9. What’s your favourite book to film adaption?
My favourite book to film adaptation is American Psycho. The book is a very long and can be a difficult read, but I thought the film did it great justice and it’s a very funny film in places. Christian Bale is one of my favourite actors and I think his performance in the film is fantastic. I know the content of the book/film is grizzly and serious in some parts, but it is a dark comedy and one of the few films I could watch over and over again and not get bored.
10. Lastly, and most importantly, what is your favourite flavour of crisps?
In the book, my favourite flavour is steak and spinach. They are just heroes and willing to save anyone’s life for a medal. In real life, I like salt and vinegar flavour Discos (boring, I know) and I really like the Walker’s Sensations roast chicken and thyme.
Thanks Laura for reviewing my book and doing this interview!