Where were you born? Where do you live now?
I was born in Northcote, Auckland. Now I live on the Gold Coast of Australia (with all the other Kiwis).
Where did you go to school?
I went to Northcote College in Auckland mostly.
Did you have a nickname?
No. I could lie about this and make one up, who would know? But actually, no.
What were you like in school?
I was involved in almost everything. I learned a number of different instruments, I was involved in debating, the stage crew and so on and so on. I was like a ‘big deal in this town’. In other words, that geeky, nerdy kid that nobody liked.
What was the most outrageous thing you did there?
I wasn’t a particularly outrageous person. I was too much of a ‘public figure’ for that. But there was this one day …
It was about 4.30 in the afternoon. I had been working with some others of the stage crew setting up the stage for an event. My girlfriend at the time and a couple of her friends came up onto the stage. We put some music on the sound system (probably the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack), and I will neither confirm nor deny that there may have been a little disco dancing going on.
Next minute, the sound cuts off and the principal is standing there, red in the face. We were all hauled into the principal’s office and accused of all sorts of things. None of which were true. (Except the disco dancing.) Editor’s note: Which was probably a crime in itself!
What was your favourite book growing up?
Any one of the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton when I was younger. Dune by Frank Herbert as a teenager. Anything by Alistair MacLean.
Who is your favourite children’s author?
Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy, David Hill, Joy Cowley, Morris Gleitzman, Kate … Did you really just ask me to pick only one?!
What is your favourite food/colour/movie?
Chef. (It’s a movie, in colour, about food. Oh, that wasn’t what you meant?)
Too many foods to mention. Too few colours that I feel deeply attached to, to mention.
Movies, well there’s a list: The Godfather, The Matrix, The Shawshank Redemption, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Star Wars … I’d better stop now.
Who inspired you to write?
I think Enid Blyton was my biggest inspiration. I loved reading her stories so much, that I wanted to become a writer.
How did you get started? How old were you?
I was young. I don’t know how young, but ever since I can remember I wanted to write stories. My first published novel came out of a chance conversation with a friend at a Warriors rugby league game. He asked me what my great passion in life was. I said writing, but I had never written a book. He called me a total loser. I punched him in the nose. (Some parts of this story are true.)
Why did you want to be a writer?
Why does a caterpillar want to be a butterfly? Why do eleven-year-old rugby players want to be All Blacks? Why do birds fall down from the sky … I’m going to stop singing now.
I really don’t know why, it was just always the thing I wanted to do.
How do you think up ideas?
I am constantly looking around and saying, What if …? I read newspapers, books, internet articles and I ask myself that question. What if the sky was green? What if paintings were portals to other worlds? What if a fifteen-year-old boy got to see the modern world for the first time? (Hmmm, there might be a book idea in that.)
Do you have a special place where you write?
Yes. Paris. Are you offering?
No, actually I write everywhere. Planes, trains, beaches, my lounge, my back yard, sometimes even in my office!
What is the best thing about being an author?
Everything! (Except the bad things.)
Have you had a funny or embarrassing moment as an author?
Lots! Am I going to embarrass myself further by revealing them here? I don’t think so, Tim.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m usually taking out the rubbish, walking the dog, washing the car. You know. All the stuff that just doesn’t happen by itself while you are writing. Oh, and in the school holidays I run writing camps for young people.
What would you have chosen to be if you were not an author?
An astronaut. Or a fireman. Or an astronaut-fireman who puts out fires in outer space!
Which famous person from the past would you like to talk to?
Albert Einstein, I think. He and I would have got on really well. I mean, he’s massively intelligent and … well … opposites attract.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
No, I changed my mind.