Mum tried really hard not to lose her temper on my birthday, but in the end she just couldn’t help it. ‘Where is your father?’ she yelled.
Most authors reveal stuff about their private lives in their books even if they don’t mean to. It slips in while they’re concentrating on other things, like how to spell concentrating.
For example, if you read Harry Potter carefully, you’ll spot some very obvious clues about J.K.’s personal life. She puts a full stop at the end of very sentence, which suggests she’s neat, orderly and paid attention in English at school. She uses quite a few commas, which suggests she likes commas and is appreciative of the role they play, particularly on her bank statements. And at no point in any of the seven books does Harry eat a salad made from grated raw potato, garlic, chilli and sesame oil, which suggests that J.K. isn’t that keen on Uyghur food from the Xinjiang region of north-west China.
In my own books, similar accidental revelations occur. A lot of my characters have pets, and you can probably guess what that means. (That’s right, one of my hobbies is getting dog hair off sofas with sticky tape.) Quite a few of my characters do bold, risky, unusual things without thinking about what might happen to them as a result. (You’ve guessed it, when I hang the washing out, I sometimes carry the pegs on my ears.) And all my characters eat huge amounts of grated raw potato salad, or at least they do before the editor makes me take it out.
And then there’s the tea. I love tea. Specially Chinese tea. You’ve probably noticed that tea pops up in loads of my books. Well, a few. Well, one. But that story, Deadly, largely revolves around tea. A mysterious tea that has a mysterious effect on all who drink it. It makes them younger. A lot younger if they drink a lot of it. Which is why one of the main characters spends part of the book carrying a baby around who is actually her mother. (I’m not saying tea actually makes you younger in real life, but it can bring you a deep inner peace. Though that might be the biscuits.)
Deadly is clearly written by a tea-lover. Well, two tea-lovers actually. While I was writing the book with Paul Jennings, he introduced me to a friend of his who’s a tea-importer. And she gave me my first taste of a classic Chinese tea. And when I discovered how nice it is, I went to her shop and bought some other types of Chinese tea. And when I discovered how nice they are, I started going to Hong Kong and China to discover rare and delicious teas you can only get there. And to pay for the trips I started putting more and more personal stuff in my books in the hope they’d sell more.
But you probably knew that from reading them.
Deadly! is available in bookshops and libraries in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and online: