Not only do I have my review of The Bubble Wrap Boy today but am excited to have nabbed Phil Earle to ask him some questions. You’ll also find a giveaway …
Publisher: Penguin (1 May 2014)
All my life I’ve been tiny Charlie from the Chinese Chippie, whose only friend is Sinus, the kid who stares at walls.
But I believe that everyone’s good at something.
I’ve just got to work out what my something is…
Charlie’s found his secret talent: skateboarding. It’s his one-way ticket to popularity. All he’s got to do is practice, and nothing’s going to stop him – not his clumsiness, not his overprotective mum, nothing.
Except Charlie isn’t the only one in his family hiding a massive secret, and his next discovery will change everything.
How do you stay on the board when your world is turned upside down?
I’ve enjoyed Phil Earle’s novels (Being Billy (2011), Saving Daisy (2012) and Heroic (2013) which have all been ‘keepers’ for me) so I was excited when I was offered The Bubble Wrap Boy to review. Did it live up to my high expectations?
Charlie’s clumsiness is evident on stage during the school production of Romeo and Juliet although to be fair, if the sword … Sinus is waiting for him after Charlie’s cleared the stage and we find out that both boys are ‘outcasts’ from the social circle at school and this is the reason they gravitated towards each other.
Charlie’s quite excited to learn that he’s going to get a bike to deliver the take-out Chinese but is very disappointed when the reality doesn’t match his imagination! It’s when he’s out delivering that he sees a kid skateboard past which starts his obsession with skate boarding – and leads to his mum finding him at the park skateboarding which results in a grounding. Of course this doesn’t stop him from sneaking out to the park. I was quite indignant what the other boys did to him! Sinus is the one who takes this event and makes it into something positive. He’s been staring at walls for a purpose …
The reason why Charlie’s mum is over protective becomes clear when he takes a phone call pretending to be her … and this thread in the story might bring tears (it did for me).
Young people will identify with Charlie and Sinus. Any age reader will be reminded that it’s important to have a dream – something to aspire to no matter the obstacles. Be careful who you hurt along the way though!
Although it’s different to Earle’s previous novels, he still tackles a social issue with sensitivity, realism but also humour.
Perfect ending (had me up off my seat cheering)!
It is such a feel-good story, it’s another hit for me 🙂
Phil was born in Hull in 1974, and he studied English and Drama at Hull University. He worked for a year as a carer in a children’s home, then after training as a drama therapist, he worked in a therapeutic community in London, which cared for multiply abused adolescents. Then, changing tack completely, he chose a marginally more sedate life as a children’s bookseller. It was here that he developed an obsession for kid’s literature, in particular, young adult fiction.
After three years at Ottakar’s, he became a sales rep, and then a key account manager for Transworld/Random House, and is now sales director at Simon and Schuster Children’s Books.
Phil lives in South East London with his wife and three young children.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
Although this is my fourth book, in some ways it’s my first, as it revisits the first thing I ever tried to write. Ten years ago I wrote a book for younger readers and spent four years doing it. I thought I’d cracked it, but agents and editors thought otherwise. They were spot on, it wasn’t the best!
Anyway, it all started with a saying, when someone told me I’d been wrapped in cotton wool all my life. And that got me thinking, what if…?
If you could choose to be one of your characters in your books which would you be? and why?
I’d be Sinus in The Bubble Wrap Boy. He’s been terrorized all his life for having the biggest nose on the planet, but he knows he has skills that he can unleash at any point. And when he does? Well, the kids at school will act very differently towards him…
Did you do any research for your book? What resources did you use?
I’m not big on research to be honest, I find it gets in the way of the writing. When I wrote HEROIC, I read some books on Afghanistan. For Bubble Wrap Boy, there wasn’t much to research apart from watching some youtube videos on skateboarding!
What inspired you to write?
Discovering YA novels in my twenties. I wasn’t a reader as a kid. There was too much football to be played. I feel pretty lucky to have discovered a passion later than most, and I discovered it when I worked in the kids section of a bookshop. One of the best jobs I ever had.
Do you have a most creative time of day?
I used to have, as I wrote my first four books on the bus to and from work. But now I’m working from home, so have to write behind a desk. It’s not as much fun without wheels turning underneath you. I miss the X68 bus.
Are you a panster or a plotter?
I don’t like planning. For me the joy of writing is discovering stuff as I go. I have a basic plan, but I’m very happy to let it go out of the window if the wind blows me in another direction.
What are you working on now?
I’m doing something a little different next and writing for middle grade readers, kids who are 9-12 years old. I’ve taken ‘Danny, The Champion of the World’ as my inspiration and writing about a kid who idolizes his old man, who happens to be a crummy British wrestler. The book is called ‘Demolition Dad’. I’ve never had so much fun in my life…
Which authors have influenced your writing?
So many. Keith Gray, Kevin Brooks, Siobhan Dowd, David Almond, Kevin Brooks, SE Hinton, David Klass, David Levithan, Jeff Brown, Melvin Burgess, Jenny Downham.
What are you reading now? Opinion?
Unusually for me I’ve just read a book for adults, called ‘Whatever Happened to Billy Parks?’ It was stunning. One of the best footballs novels I’ve ever read.
Thanks Phil. Looking forward to Demolition Dad (no pressure …)
Know someone who is a YA reader or want the chance to read The Bubble Wrap Boy yourself? I’m putting a paperback copy up for grabs. Easy entry via the Rafflecopter link below: