Little Book,  Middle grade

Author Interview: Barry Hutchison

Here at Big Book Little Book we are delighted to welcome Barry Hutchison, author of The 13th Horseman (read Jack’s review here). Barry took some time out of his busy schedule to answer some of Jack’s questions.

In a darkly funny, action-packed adventure, fourteen year old Drake is surprised to discover the Horsemen of the Apocalypse hanging out in his garden shed. He’s even more surprised when they ask him to join them. The team is missing a Horseman, having gone through several Deaths, and they think Drake is the boy for the job.

What inspired you to write The 13th Horseman?

I grew up reading funny books, and although I loved writing my Invisible Fiends horror series, I had a real urge to write funny stuff. I’ve had the idea for The 13th Horseman since I was about 18 years old (I’m 34 now!). I thought if the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse had been created at the beginning of time, with the sole purpose of kicking off Judgement Day at the end of time, then what would they be doing in between times? I was sharing a flat with three REALLY annoying people at the time, and I thought that being one of the Four Horsemen would be a bit like that – the others would be getting on your nerves all the time, and you’d always be looking for things to do in order to make time pass more quickly. That’s why they’re always playing board games, just to try to stave off the boredom and stop themselves going mad like most of their Deaths have.

What is your favourite book (not the ones that you’ve written)?

That’s tricky. I read a lot of books, and my favourite changes almost every day. I love most of Neil Gaiman’s books – American Gods is a good one for adults, or The Graveyard Book is great for both adults and children. Growing up I read a lot of American comics – Spider-Man, Batman, Superman, The Incredible Hulk – all that stuff. I still love reading comics, and some of my favourite stories are in graphic novel format.
A favourite book when I was young was The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O’Shea. It’s a fantasy story set in Ireland, and although I’ve never been a big fan of fantasy books, I absolutely loved it and read it probably half a dozen times in the space of a few years. It’s quite a long book, but well worth reading. Every time I finished it I remember feeling sad because the story was over.

What is your favourite food?

Easy – seafood. Prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, scallops – pretty much anything that comes out of the sea, really. If a giant sea monster rose up out of the ocean tomorrow I’d be after it with a fork and a slice of lemon. Seriously, if Godzilla ever emerges from the deeps, he’d better watch his back.

What is your favourite book that you’ve written?

My favourite is The 13th Horseman, although I’ll always have a soft spot for the Invisible Fiends series, with them being my first published books. I had a lot more freedom in Horseman to do anything I liked, and I loved setting my imagination loose. The Fiends books are very story driven, so you’re always racing from one thing to the next. It was nice to be able to slow down a bit and sometimes include scenes or conversations that don’t really matter much to the plot. For example, some of my favourite bits in Horseman come when they’re in Limbo. I like the Alfred Randall X-perience, and even made myself laugh writing the conversation between Drake and the wardrobe he thought contained the Deathblade.
That said, writing is like anything else you do – the more you practice, the better you get – so hopefully my next books will be even better!

What type of music do you like to listen to?

I listen to a huge range of music, from classical stuff like Chopin, to Lady Gaga. My iPod has got a real mix of stuff on it – Bruno Mars, Led Zepplin, Elvis, Mumford & Sons, Oasis, The Smiths, and lots more. I’m not sure I have a favourite band or favourite type of music, because it depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I listen to music while I’m writing. When I was writing the Invisible Fiends book, “Doc Mortis” for example, I listened to a lot of creepy horror music and some really old recordings of nursery rhymes. They helped set the scene and get me in the mood for writing really scary scenes.

If you could be any other author, who would it be and why?

What an interesting question. Sadly, the answer’s going to be quite boring. I don’t think I’d want to be any author other than me. I feel really lucky to be able to write the books I want to write, and we’re all really lucky that there are so many brilliant authors out there who are also writing the books they want to write. It means we have more books to choose from than we’ll ever be able to read, and I love reading almost as much as I love writing. If I was writing Terry Pratchett’s books, let’s say, then I would be robbed of the pleasure of reading them.

I wouldn’t say no to all his money, mind you…

The 13th Horseman is published by Harper Collins Children’s Books and is available to buy now.

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