Tuesday 28 July 2015

Ah, Mr Cole. I've been expecting you . . .

So, Mr Cole . . . *strokes furry white cat*
Thanks for agreeing to be interrogated – I mean quizzed – by me.

Sorry . . . I am guessing you get that a lot now that you are writing YOUNG BOND! How exciting is that?! And, more importantly, tell us about it: how did you get the gig?

One day in December 2012 I was phoned up by my agent who asked if I’d be interested in taking on Young Bond. I hadn’t realized that Charlie Higson had not written one since 2008. It was so exciting and a real privilege to be asked. I had to outline what I’d do with Young Bond, and write some sample chapters, and meet the Ian Fleming people, all while keeping everything top secret…

Were you a fan of Bond as a child? If so, was it the books or the films?

Looking back, Bond was always about in my childhood. I had the toy Aston Martin from Goldfinger, my mum had a big pash for Roger Moore so I saw him on TV and in books and magazines a lot. The first Bond film I saw at the cinema was For Your Eyes Only and from there I never missed one. I started on the books when I was 14 or so, after watching A View To A Kill, which was named for a Fleming Bond short story. I wondered if the print version was very different. It was – and opened my eyes to Bond in print!

Which actor is your favourite Bond and why?

I think every screen Bond has brought something different to the role, and I genuinely enjoy all of them. Some have possibly stuck around in the part too long, but can you blame them? They’re getting to be James Bond!

You seem to be on the road a lot – what sort of exotic locations do you visit? (I assume the book budget doesn’t stretch to sending you off to research the settings for the Bond books?)

I’m very lucky to travel as much as I do, promoting my books. I’ve talked in America, Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, Spain, Ireland, Belgium… Shoot to Kill is set mainly in Los Angeles and although I’ve been there a few times I was very happy to visit again just to recapture the feel of the place!
Of course, you write many other books besides the Young Bond series. Many MANY others in fact including the Astrosaurs series, Cows in Action, Secret Agent Mummy and your latest book, Stop Those Monsters! How on earth do you manage to write so much cracking stuff whilst whizzing around the planet in a spiderman suit, playing your ukulele to packed schools of adoring fans? (I have seen the photos, so don’t deny it.)

I hate to contradict James Bond but You Only Live Once and I like to cram as much action and opportunity into existence as I can. Who needs sleep, anyway?

No interrogation – I mean interview – would be complete without mentioning your connection with the best programme in the universe. By which I of course mean Doctor Who. When did you first become a fan?

My earliest memory is of watching Doctor Who, when I was 3. I have never stopped watching it! I am super-geeky about it.

Which actor is your favourite Doctor and why?

Tom Baker is the Doctor I grew up with and so he’ll always be number one. As with the Bonds, I genuinely love them all, but I was won over most by Matt Smith. He had a tough job coming in after David Tennant’s incredibly popular Doctor and he did it by becoming more like the old, eccentric Doctor Whos. He was endearing and exciting and made you believe.

How did you get your job with the BBC working on Doctor Who books and merchandise and how did you feel when you got the job?

I was working at BBC Magazines and the books, videos and audio goodies were being made upstairs. When I heard they were looking for someone to be in charge of them all, I took a pay cut to do it! The bosses were baffled that I would drop down the career ladder to do this, but I convinced them I didn’t mind – I was just so excited by the idea of steering my favourite character in print and other media! It was an exciting time.

Has being a Whovian influenced your writing? If so, how?

Doing the Doctor Who job was an incredible amount of work so I only lasted a couple of years before burning out, but it taught me a lot about writing and story structure – and about working at high speed!

People often ask me if I am related to Jacqueline Wilson (answer: NO!). Are you related to any famous Coles? (I am not going to ask about Cheryl.)

I am sometimes asked if I’m related to the writer/illustrator Babette Cole. I am not, though… nor Cheryl… nor Andy… nor the famous American jazz musician Steve Cole…

Thank you, Mr Cole. Your answers have been most . . . enlightening. Now if you would just step this way I would like to show you my shark-infested pool— I mean that’s all we have time for. It’s been a pleasure. *strokes furry white cat and grins evilly whilst opening trap door*

I take it back – I am actually the famous American jazz musician Steve Cole – get him instead!!!

(The interrogator was the evil Anna Wilson, author of The Puppy Plan and Summer's Shadow. She would like to thank Steve Cole for entering into her lair and assures readers that she has now released him so that he can continue writing most excellent middle grade fiction. His latest book STOP THOSE MONSTERS! is out now. Read it, or face the consequences. Mwhahahaha.)

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