The success of Harry Potter books really opened publisher eyes to the fact that you can make money publishing for kids books. There’s definitely a much better range of books for older kids than there was five or ten years ago.
2) You’ve made a consistent effort to keep the Cherub series grounded in some kind of believable, real-world technology. There’s nary a laser watch or an invisible car in sight, however, was there ever a point when you wanted to cross that line, when you wanted to make things a little more super spy?
So much spy fiction is derived from James Bond (and the movies more than the films). So it was always a cornerstone of CHERUB that there would be no superguns or gadgets. I’ve never really been tempted to stray from that.
3) There’s a constant debate about what is and isn’t acceptable in YA fiction. Parents become alarmed when boundaries are pushed, however a soft touch can lose reluctant readers, readers who have an appetite for the hard thrills of television and videogames. Where do you stand?
The main argument against kids reading strong content is that they’ll be influenced by it and go off and do something stupid. Frankly, I think it’s a very patronising argument. Kids know right from wrong well before they’re old enough to read my books.
4) Henderson’s Boys is a prequel series to Cherub set during World War 2. The most recent novel, Grey Wolves, is out now. How much or how little research did you have to do to make sure the setting and characters were believable?
Loads! Henderson’s Boys books take about 30% longer to write than CHERUB and it’s all because of the extra research I have to do to get all the details right.
5) You worked in private investigation during the nineties. With newspapers in Britain being investigated for phone-hacking, and so much personal information available through sites like Facebook and Twitter, do you think privacy is a thing of the past?
I think privacy is overestimated. I’ve never made a big fuss over people knowing where I live and frankly a lot of the people who complain about press intrusion are the very people who go out of their way to court publicity.
6) Asking authors to pick a favourite novel they’ve written is like asking parents to pick a favourite child, however, is there a novel you’re especially proud of?
I never choose favourites. I doubt any author will, to be honest.
7) Do you think James Adams, the character who made his first appearance in The Recruit, and last appearance in Shadow Wave, will ever demand more attention and more stories?
James will be back. I don’t know where or how yet and James doesn’t even get mentioned in People’s Republic, but fans will go bananas if we never hear from him again.
8) What’s coming up for you in the future?
Actually, the next couple of years are kinda predictable because I’m carrying on with CHERUB and Henderson’s Boys. The next big question mark is what I’ll do after 2013, when Henderson’s Boys comes to an end. I kind of like the idea of doing a new series that’s a radical departure from writing about kid spies.