Tell me what inspired you to write about chocolate running out?
The word ‘chocopocalypse’ popped into my head – I first wrote it as a hashtag on twitter at the end of one of my usual silly tweets. But I couldn’t get it out of my head and the story grew and grew.

How hard was it to get your first book published?
I’ve spent 40 years writing stories, but never really thought about sending them away to anyone. They were for my own amusement or to try and make my family and friends laugh (or groan!). After writing a story for my daughter for a Christmas present, a publisher announced an Open Day for any unpublished children’s stories. So, for a giggle, I sent mine off. I genuinely didn’t expect any kind of response, but they liked it and after quite a lot of fiddling around, it was eventually turned into a real book! I still don’t fully believe it!

How many publishers turned you down?
None – yet! (I hope that doesn’t make other authors hate me!) I don’t have a collection of rejection letters, but only because I wasn’t brave enough to send any of my work off.

Do you try and read the online reviews you get on say waterstones website?
Yes. I know there are plenty of people who say authors shouldn’t read reviews, but I think most of us secretly do. You have to take a bit of a gamble of stumbling over the odd one that might spoil your day, but I think it is worth it when you read one that delights you. Especially ones from young readers – they are the BEST!

Is there anything you wouldn’t write about?
I’ve tried writing lots of things in all genres. I spent those 40 years playing around with all types of ideas. Most of which I’ve never let anyone read. I don’t think there is anything I wouldn’t write – but there is plenty I wouldn’t share.

What did you do before becoming a writer?
I’ve discovered recently that I’ve always been a writer, but I’ve had many different jobs that have got in the way of that. I’ve been an aircraft mechanic in the Royal Air Force, worked in factories measuring pollution and been a Stay at Home Dad. Now I go into schools and tell children that all you have to do to be a writer, is write.

Which author inspires you?
The author I’ve always returned to has been Douglas Adams. I love how he crams loads of ideas into his stories and often disregarding the usual writing rules. He brings so much intelligence and silliness into his work. I could (and do) read them over and over again.

Which genres do you read yourself?
I used to read those massive chunky historical or military epics. As I’m quite a slow reader, I’d get one of these books for Christmas and it would pretty much last until next Christmas. Since my daughter was born, it’s been all kinds of children’s books – I love them. Although, I sometimes like to branch out now and again with a Young Adult thriller.

What is your biggest motivator?
My daughter. Whenever I write anything, I wonder if it will make her smile, laugh, be shocked or surprised.

What will always distract you?
EVERYTHING! Especially thoughts and ideas. I am an unstoppable daydreamer.

How much say do you have in your book covers?
Absolutely none! Which is probably why my book cover is sooo good. It is illustrated by the fantastic Lalalimola and it has a purple loveliness (similar to a certain type of chocolate bar!) created by my fab publishers.

As a child were you a great reader?
Quite the opposite. I found reading very hard and stressful. It is only since my daughter was born that I’ve discovered the wonderful world of children’s books. I used to enjoy writing stories much more than reading them.

Which book shop is your favourite?
I’m very lucky that the closest bookshop to my house is at the fantastic Seven Stories in Newcastle. They were incredibly supportive when my book was launched and I did my very first bookshop book signing session there, which was awesome! Blackwell’s, also in Newcastle, has been hugely supportive to me and always has my book on display. Similarly, there’s Drake’s in Stockton and Forum Books in Corbridge, both beautiful independent shops that have so much enthusiasm and knowledge about books – they are always a pleasure to visit.

What can you not resist buying?
After being a Stay at Home Dad for many years, I don’t think I ever come home without some milk, cheese and mushrooms (my wife loves mushrooms – with everything! Is that weird?).

Do you have any rituals on your writing days?
I’m not a superstitious guy or someone who likes routines. Any pen or pencil will do, on any pad or scrap of paper. Maybe the closest thing to a ritual is me staring out the window daydreaming!

How many books in your own to be read pile?
I’m not organised enough to have a pile – I have a general scattered coverage of books to be read. There’s definitely more than ten, but probably less than a thousand. Possibly!

What is your current read?
Philip Reeve’s Black Light Express. I love his stuff.

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