[COOL-TOUR-KATZE] Interview mit Jonathan Stroud auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2013 (englisch)

It’s an amazing experience. There are so many books. Many, many books. So much good stuff.
Jonathan Stroud, Buchmesse Frankfurt

Anette: I think children are very critical readers. Because when a child really loves a book it will read it two or three times and sometimes a child sees a lot more than an adult reader.

Jonathan: Yes, I think so. I think adults are less…

A: … a bit dumb.

J: I think they follow everyone else, so if you say ‘Hey…’

A: … like a lemming! This book is good – oh yes! This book is good!

J: This book is great – oh yes! Let’s read it. But a kid, if you give it to a kid, the kid will be like ‘I’m bored’ and give it away. So it’s a good area of literature, I agree. And it’s fun, because there you can write… I am trying my things that I would have loved when I was twelve as a kid. But I also like them as an adult, so you try to do things for everyone. And my audience is quite vary, the youngest will be maybe eight and the oldest will be sixty-eight, seventy-eight. There is no upper limit.

A: And what do you prefer to write, more the funny things? Because I have the impression – in Germany the Bartimaeus books and Lockwood have more positive reactions than a book like ‘The Last Siege’ or ‘The Leap’. I think sometimes it’s a kind of ‘I want more of funny and sarcastic Mr. Stroud’ and then ‘Uäääh. This book was so boring…”

J: Ha!

A: And when… what’s your opinion, what do you say – ‘Yes, but I like both sides to write’?

J: No… I kind of agree with the people in Germany. Those are the books, my first books. And I think they were good books, but they didn’t have the humour. They didn’t have the jokes. And when I began writing the Bartimaeus story, his voice came out and he was being sarcastic and joke. And it was like a firework in my mind. I thought, ah, I can write that. And it can still be a serious book with other things. But you could also have the humour, the jokes. And so now I think I will find it very difficult not to have the jokes, I always have to have some humour in there. Because fantasy is a dangerous genre. You can easily become a
little pretentious, a little self-satisfied. You know, all of the fantasy have been a little heavy, good and evil, it gets a little boring. To make it more interesting if you bring the humour in just to play with it then it becomes a lot lighter.

A: Yes. I think the ghost thing is now a turn because the last two, three years there was dystopia, it was a bit sad, and now you make this funny thing to give it a new direction in the fantasy genre for children.

J: I hope so and you’re right. Someone else said that they called the dystopia a lot of quite depressing books. And you know a depressing book is good sometimes but you… for me, I like to have something that lifts me. I want to be excited. I want to like the characters. I wanna feel some connection, you know. If it’s a fantasy that’s too magical or too made up, I’m not so interested. So it has to have something to do with the real world as well. And I think you need to have humour to really make it the best. If you have all of that…

A: Yes, they are likeable people, also Anthony, George and Lucy. They are a bit strange and crazy but they are people you can feel with.

J: Oh, that’s great!

A: You can feel the emotions and you have the fun, when they make bad jokes about eachother, Lucy and George.

J: Yes.

A: It’s a bit bloody, but you always have something to laugh about.

J: I think that’s important because it’s a supernatural or scary story. Again, it could become too much, if it’s just always nasty things. You end up needing and going to have a wash. So I’m trying balances to have a couple of chapters with really scary, hardly and they will have some silly jokes in there. Yeah, arguing and getting grumpy and then a bit more scary stuff comes in. The two just ballance each other. I think it works. And I’m excited that it works in german, because it’s been translated by my excellent translators.

A: It’s a very good translation.

J: It’s so great that you say that it works for you.

A: Do you have a favourite of the three main characters?

J: I like George, because his role is to be a little sarcastic and to come out with sort of slightly silly lines, which reminds me a little bit of Bartimaeus who did the same thing, that he would instead of come along and makes some kind of slightly rude joke, which just undercuts the other characters. I like George but I actually like all three. All three characters give me something different. I like Lockwood because he is a kind of a bit dashing and he’s a bit heroic and…

A: A little bit of english gentleman ten or twenty years in future.

J: Yeah, he is, but he also messes up and he gets things wrong, because I think if he was perfect, he would be boring. So I like it. He wants to be a little bit like Sherlock Holmes, so far, he still makes very soon mistakes. I like Lucy because she is quite tough and she is quite strong, but I didn’t want her to be another one of these girls who comes in as a brilliant fighter. Right, I’ve done that a bit before. I could have modelled her a bit more ordinary but still strong and perceptive. Yes, I’m fond of her also.

A: Do you have an eye on it, that you have female and male characters because it would be more interesting for female and male

J: For sure, my readership is often, there are many, many boys and many girls also, I always want to have a strong female character and a strong male character, because… I mix it up, so the female characters will have some tough qualitys, sort of male, and the male characters will have some female characteristics, because in life everyone is a mix so I want my characters to be a good mix too.

A: Do you have sometimes that you modelled your characters in the books from someone you know in the real life?

J: It’s never like only one person becoming Lockwood or only one person becoming Lucy, it’s always a piece of different people that I meet. When my mother read the first Bartimaeus story, she read it and said ‘Oh yes, he is very like you, isn’t he?’. And I was like, Bartimaeus is funny and energetic, he’s charismatic and… “No, not Bartmaeus, Nathaniel!’. It was Nathaniel that was like me, when I was a kid, I used to be quite intense and serious and I wanted to do the right thing and my mother saw, that Nathaniel and me were very close.

A: Do your kids or your wife read your books in advance before they are published?

J: My wife reads them before they are published, my wife reads them while I’m doing it. Usually I get half way and then I get stuck and I give it to her and she reads it and we discuss it and she is very good. She helps me what is good, what will don’t work, sometimes I make things complicated and she says ‘You can get rid of that bit, just make it a bit smoother’. And my children are nine and six, so they are a bit little, but they are starting to help, because my little girl Isabelle, who is nine, she’s always writing and always drawing and so she’s made a ghost in psychopedia for Lockwood, so she has ideas of ghosts and give it to me. In the first book, you know, they have a kitchen table and on the table they have a cloth and they write on the cloth, messages and things. That was my daughters idea. That’s her thing. A thinking cloth.

A: So you stole her ideas and you earn the money and the honour.

J: Yes (laughing). But I think one day it will be the other way around. I think it will. It’s okay. She is learning and I will give her
some ideas in a few years.

A: How do you like the german cover, because it’s totally different than the original one.

J: I really like it. I think it’s very strong. Some people come to me and say they like covers where you don’t see the characters so then you’re able to keep it all in your mind.

A: At the moment, there are so much covers with characters on it. On the german market there are a lot of faces when you look behind you (Bücherwand am cbj-/cbt-Stand). In my review I wrote that the lock on the cover will invite the reader to open it and to see the mysteries and the adventure that Lockwood and Co. will have in this book.

J: I think it’s like a symbol. It’s symbolic in all the books. With Bartimaeus the german covers, they have all the same picture, different colours. And it was nice and simple, but it worked really well, and I think it’s the same idea and it’s good.

A: It’s some kind of a brand for one writer so that you can see ‘Oh, it remembers me of Stroud. Oh, it is the new Stroud.’

J: That’s right. The german covers are always very strong, very nicely done.

Ina: We really love Bartimaeus… we also have Bartimaeus bookends at home.

J: Oh, I’ve got one. The publishers gave me one, so he’s on my shelf, he looks down at me and I have to make sure that I write well. He’s taught me that there are some things quite useful in there. I always make sure that I better get some jokes in.

A: Is there any of your books which is planned to be filmed?

J: Well… Bartimaeus and Lockwood are both… maybe will be made films. You never know. Lockwood, the filmrights been bought by the people who made ‘Despicable me’ (Deutsch: Ich, einfach unverbesserlich).

Ina: We have magnets from the minions.

J: YOU have a minion magnet? This guys who made that bought the rights to Lockwood. I hope they will make a Lockwood film. And we are hoping that one day there will be a Bartimaeus one also. People want to make it.

A: Should it be then with real persons?

J: Yes. Both real people. That’s the plan. And I think now with Bartimaeus it’s good because since ten years now the computer

A: … and not so expensive.

J: Now you can have Bartimaeus changing shape and doing all kind of stuff. Ah, oh yes, thank you, wow, he’s really good (Sabrina schenkt Jonathan Stroud einen Minion Magneten)! How can you have them, do you have a collection? Lots of these?

A: Yeah, we have a lot of… it was a give-away.

J: I will show it my children. They will be very happy. (Sabrina rückt einen zweiten Magneten raus) Are you sure? Thank you!

A: You have to give it to your children!

J: Thank you very much, they will be very pleased. So, so I hope there will be films made. (Rufe aus dem Off: Bartimäus – Lockwood – Bartimäus – und Lockwood!)

A: Is there someone you prefer if you only have one option to be filmed?

J: I guess Bartimaeus because for ten years I haven’t the possibility of him being made into a movie. And it never happened. So it would be very exciting if someone will do it. I think he would be perfect for a movie. If you get the right person. I don’t know who would be good. Who would be good for Bartimaeus?

A: You must think about the english voice and we have to think about the german voice.

J: It’s a voice thing.

A: Yeah.

J: I think it’s hard. I never think, oh, I want him.

Ina: Martin Semmelrogge, Rainer Strecker… diabolic, sarcastic…

A: Oliver Rohrbeck, the voice of Ben Stiller.

J: You got to have the humour and you got to have a little bit of danger.

A: Or you learn perfect german and do the original in english and the synchronization in german.

J: It may take a while. It might take a few years.

A: Another ten years.

J: Another ten years. Than maybe I’ll be okay. I’ll be old then. I think, maybe there’s one thing I won’t do. Maybe carry on writing and then someone else can…

A: Your son!

J: Maybe. He would probably like to. We will see.

© Anette, Ina und Sabrina:
Anette hat am meisten gefragt, Ina das meiste getippt und Sabrina am meisten gelacht ;)
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3 thoughts on “[COOL-TOUR-KATZE] Interview mit Jonathan Stroud auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2013 (englisch)

  1. Ich ärgere mich jetzt ein bisschen, dass ich Stroud nicht gesagt habe, dass unbedingt Tim Burton die Filme machen muss und dass Johnny Depp Honorious spielen muss. Hatte ich eigentlich vor, hab mich aber angesichts der Schlange hinter mir nicht getraut ;-)

    1. Ich weiß was du meinst. Die Autoren freuen sich sicher über solche Fragen und Anregungen, aber man selbst fühlt sich ein wenig gehetzt angesichts der Schlange hinter einem :D Ging mir bei anderen Gelegenheiten leider schon ähnlich.
      Unter der Winterwohlfühlküche hab ich nun auch kurz zusammengefasst, wie groß der Anteil vegetarischer Rezepte im Buch ist, hatte ich ja während der Messe leider nicht geschafft.

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