Saturday, 28 February 2015

Haunt Dead Wrong Blog Tour: Guest Post from Curtis Jobling



CHILDHOOD DAZE

When I'm on author visits to schools, I often get asked what the best thing is about my job. My answer's simple: I'm a professional daydreamer. I get to think up stories for a living, and sometimes I get paid for it and they get turned into books. Even better those books occasionally get bought! How did I end up doing this? I can trace it, via a circuitous route, back to my childhood.

I was never happier than when doodling or playing with toys, and that's not just when I was a toddler but throughout my primary years. My mum was to thank for this, always ensuring I had a crayon in each hand like some ambidextrous Jedi child prodigy. I drew everywhere and on everything. I watched cartoons, I devoured movies, especially Star Wars and the works of stop motion animation giant Ray Harryhausen. I was that kid at the bottom of the garden making a tree house in his mum's cherry blossom tree. Not a tree house for me, I should add. Oh no, that'd make far too much sense. The tree house was in miniature and was for my Action Man figures. Dollies, for want of a better word. That's right, I played with dolls. Wanna make something of it?

The tree house consisted of floorboards, walkways, lifts, rope ladders, winches, hammocks and huts. I kid you not, if I hadn't gone into a career as a puppetmaker or writer, a future in structural engineering awaited. And there I'd spend my time, creating scenarios and adventures for my Action Man, acting them out and generally getting lost in my old little world. I know I'm not alone, other authors did this too, including my good chum Adam Gidwitz, only you can switch Action Man for GI Joe and you're on the money. This was where my storytelling began.

The earliest book I recall getting my grubby mitts on was Where the Wild Things Are. I distinctly recall being transported away to the lands of the Wild Things along with Max in his little boat. At Junior School there was my obsession with The Fighting Fantasy series of Choose Your Own Adventure titles - this is where my love or roleplaying games began. Then The Hobbit entered my life, and I was bitten by the fantasy bug for life. 

Roll on secondary school, where I happened upon Dungeons & Dragons. My friends and I would get together once or twice a week and play the game, only my mates couldn't be bothered learning the rules. Therefore I learned the rules therefore I ran the game, and that's where I learned to tell a tale and spin a yarn, playing that great escapist game with my friends.

I've got my love of all these things to thank for the fabulous careers I've enjoyed as an adult. If I hadn't doodled incessantly as a child, I may not have pursued illustration into art college and gone on to design and create shows like Bob the Builder and Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. If I hadn't fallen in love with picture books perhaps I'd never written and illustrated those picture books, like Frankenstein's Cat. If I hadn't obsessed over stop motion animation, I may never have got the chance to work on Wallace & Gromit and Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! And if I'd never got lost in my own imagination, creating my own adventures, I probably wouldn't have gone on to become a novelist. 

I have all those childhood interests to thank for becoming the daydreamy adult you (virtually) see before you today. I'm forever thankful to my mum for encouraging me with those games and hobbies as a child. I was never told to put those toys down or get my head out of my sketchbooks. She actively encouraged me to pursue my hobbies to their fullest, and I think there's a lesson for every parent there. Put a toy in your child's hand, or a crayon, or a book. See where they take it. At the very least, they'll have a terrific hobby throughout their childhood and perhaps into adulthood. At the most, they may be able to make a living out of the thing that they love. There aren't many people who get to do that. I count myself very fortunate.


Will and Dougie are still adjusting to the slight change in their friendship dynamic in this funny and supernatural tale. Will’s dead but Dougie can still see him. Weird, admittedly, but there are some positives: solving a murder mystery (with the help of former living best friend), becoming a local hero and getting the girl of your dreams are pretty big perks. But what happens when the girl is Will’s crush too? The first (and last!) girl he ever kissed? And why has Dougie’s dad been acting all weird
ever since Will died? Just as things are beginning to go right for Will, it seems he couldn’t have been more wrong. . .

Visit Curtis Jobling at: www.curtisjobling.com
Twitter: @CurtisJobling

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