Author Spotlight

"Lots of things [inspire me]. The knowledge that somebody I've never met somewhere I've never been can read one of my stories and laugh and cry at the same things as me. The experience of being inside a character who can be braver, funnier, wiser, sillier, naughtier, more determined, more creative and more loving than I'm usually able to be."--Morris Gleitzman

Morris Gleitzman is the author of many children's books, including Toad Rage and its sequels. He lives in Australia.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I can't remember much of my childhood. Just the best bits (books, corned beef and scoring goals) and the worst bits (sties, rhubarb and a stiff hamster). And the birthday morning I ran joyfully into the living room, tripped over my presents and sprained my elbow.

The rest is blank pages. Family records (Mum's photo albums) tell me I was born in 1953 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, and that we moved south when I was two. Later photos show I grew up normally with my younger brother and sister in the suburbs of London. Though one snap of me with a manic grin and a tea cosy on my head suggests that at some point I may have been kidnapped by alien spacecraft and experienced over-excitement and memory loss.

I read every book I could get my hands on. Classics, westerns, Enid Blyton, soccer star biographies, Richmal Crompton's William series (my favourites) and recipe books (particularly the corned beef sections).

Then, in 1969, we emigrated to Australia. It was a big change. The heat, the flies and the completely different tinned meats. The shock was so great I stopped reading books for nearly a year. When I started again I found I wanted to write as well.

I also wanted to eat, so I did a course called Professional Writing. By the time I graduated I knew how to write everything from journalism to the jokes on the back of cornflakes packets. What I didn't know was how to write my own stories.

That came much later. Ten years later. Eighty million comedy scripts for TV later. When, slowly, I began to write a script that was quite different. A drama about a boy called Ben who sees the world differently to his family and friends and nearly drives them all bonkers.

While the film was being made, a publisher gave me the chance to convert the script into a book. I was terrified. What did I know about writing a book? But I cared too much about Ben to chicken out so I gave it a go and The Other Facts of Life was the result.

People seemed to like it. I certainly liked writing it. I discovered you can get closer to a character's thoughts and feelings in a book than in a film. I also discovered that, even though I couldn't remember much about my childhood, Ben's thoughts and feelings felt like they were also mine. I'd never, I was almost certain, shaved my head or chained myself to a tennis net or tried to set two thousand chickens free, but I knew exactly how Ben felt doing those things.

That's when I fell in love with writing books. I've written lots since. And I've discovered that, for me, telling stories involves filling blank pages in more ways than one.