Thursday, 28 June 2012

Fortnight of Guests 2012: Dave Cousins

Today we have the amazing Dave Cousins, author of 15 Days Without a Head, with us today!  I loved 15 Days Without a Head (check out my review: here) and hope you all love the post just as much as I do!

The Book Addicted Boy!

Hello, my name’s Dave and I’m book addict!

There’s something about books as objects – the smell of them, the way they look lined up on a shelf. I carry one with me where ever I go, which is why many of mine are creased and battered, their pages crinkled from being read while walking home in the rain. For me that just adds to the appeal though, it gives each copy a history that can take me back to a moment in time.

Without books, I suspect my life would be full of holes. As a child there would have been nothing to dispel the disappointment of being sent to bed early. Growing up, they provided companionship and guidance through some of the more difficult periods of my life, not to mention an escape from family holidays as a reluctant teenager! Books have changed my opinions, widened my view of the world, and made me laugh and cry along the way.

So … I thought I’d share a few of my favourites – in autobiographical order!

Bears in the Night by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I was generally quite well behaved at school, but this book got me into trouble. I have vivid memories of being sent to stand in the corner of Burman Road Infants for fighting with another boy, over whose turn it was to read this. What made this book worth fighting over I’m not sure. Maybe it was the mixture of fear and excitement at the idea of sneaking out after dark to climb Spook Hill? There’s something about the deep blue and grey illustrations and the warm yellow glow of the bears’ lamp as they creep through the woods. We all loved the way you had to read the final part of the story really fast in reverse and would compete to see who could memorize the bears’ journey in the correct order.

Explorers on the Moon & Destination Moon by Hergé
Born a few months before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon, I was obsessed with the idea of being an astronaut as a child and read these books until they fell apart. I spent months dressed as Tintin, dragging a toy Scottie dog around on a string and addressing my grandad as Captain Haddock!

The Three Investigators in The Secret of Terror Castle by Robert ArthurAnother book that I loved so much I wanted to live it. My friend Richard and I became The Two Investigators and spent hours in the park looking for mysteries. The closest we came was helping a woman retrieve her lost dog. She seemed pleased and accepted our ‘business card’ promising to contact us if she ever needed anything investigating.

The Machine-Gunners by Robert Westall
My favourite book of all time! Though on this occasion, I didn’t want to be Chas McGill the hero of the story, but the writer, Robert Westall. The majority of Westall’s work was published in the seventies and eighties, but his books are still as good today as ever. Great writing and storytelling is timeless, and Robert Westall was a master of the craft.

Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark
I read this when I had just started a new school in a new town. Being able to share some of my experience and anxieties with the main character in the book, made those first few weeks a little easier. It was the first time I realised that stories could provide companionship and sometimes help us through difficult times in our lives. This book made me want to write and continues to influence the kind of stories I try to tell.

Waving at Trains by Roger McGough.
By the time I started at secondary school, I had started writing – songs and comics mainly. Then I discovered poetry, first Wilfred Owen and then Roger McGough. I’m often in awe of poets and songwriters who can capture the essence of a moment in a few words. I love the sound of McGough’s poems, the rhythm of the lines and the way he plays with language. He can be laugh-out-loud funny and brutally dark in the same verse, and always makes me think.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
No list of books would be complete without mention of Calvin and Hobbes – they were a big part of my own kids’ relationship with books. It’s an over-used term, but Bill Watterson is actually a genius. Calvin and Hobbes is as near to perfection as it is possible to get. Funny, wise and heart-felt, Watterson’s strips are beautifully drawn stories featuring two of the best characters ever created. Reading a few pages of Calvin and Hobbes never fails to inspire, enlighten and put a smile on my face.

Creepers by Keith Gray
I originally borrowed Creepers from the library and attempted to photocopy it, because I didn’t want to give the book back. I thought it was the perfect story: simple, clever, surprising and cool. I realised this was how I wanted to write. I’ve read all of Keith Gray’s books and they’re all brilliant. To have his endorsement on the cover of my debut novel makes me grin every time I see it.

And now I spend my days writing my own books – to say it’s a dream come true would be an understatement! Glancing across my desk as I type this, I realize I should mention my collection of thesauruses and word books. I’m not ashamed to admit that I find great pleasure in leafing through the pages to find an elusive synonym or to check the correct usage. Some of you may feel that I should maybe get out more. You’re probably right, but I’m happy. After all, not every addiction is bad.


Fifteen Days Without a Head
15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins, is out now in paperback, published by Oxford University Press.!/DaveCousins9000   @DaveCousins9000

I couldn't agree more!  I think a book addiction is the best kind and not one that needs detoxing! ;)  
I hope you all liked this as much as I did!  And if you did, make sure you follow all the FoG events on Twitter at #FortnightOfGuests


Dave Cousins completed his first novel in the back of a van, while touring with his band (who were almost famous!)
He went on to be a winner of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Anthology 2010 and his debut novel for teens, 15 Days Without a Head, was published by Oxford University Press in January 2012. 
Originally from Birmingham, Dave now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and family, in a house full of books and records, and writes in a corner of the attic with an anarchic ginger cat for company.

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