Childtastic Books is pleased to be part of the Gareth Jones Blog Tour!
His latest book, Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: The Leaky Battery Sets Sail, was published on 2 February 2015 and, as well as our review of the book, Gareth Jones has written a piece for us called ‘Gareth Talks Funny’. Enjoy!
Please note that while I was sent a review copy of this book, the reviews represented in this book are entirely my own.
What it’s about:
The Steampunk Pirates are searching the seven seas for gold, causing chaos and comedy wherever they go. However, it’s not plain sailing; the evil Iron Duke has his sights set on a generous reward from the King in exchange for capturing the robotic seamen. Will he deliver them dead or alive or can they ride out the storm?
Gareth P Jones has garnered a well deserved reputation for crazy comedy through his Ninja Meerkat series, and the Steampunk Pirates books look set to follow suit. There are jokes aplenty on each page, driving the story forward at a manic pace. Children who love pirate stories and lots of laughs will adore this book, and it appeals to both boys and girls alike, with the sole human on board Captain Clockheart’s boat, Pendle, being a girl disguised as a boy.
The illustrations match the zaniness of the narration well and will draw even reluctant readers into the story. The Steampunk Pirates has had a promising start and the seas look calm for future success.
As part of this blog tour, Gareth has shared with us how and why he writes funny books. Read and enjoy his tips and secrets!
I think books should be funny. Even ones that are sad or scary or exciting should have something funny in them, because life is funny and even the sad or scary or exciting days should involve something that makes you laugh.
When I came up with the idea for The Adventures of The Steampunk Pirates it was important to me to make these books funny as well as exciting, interesting and fun to read.
But humour is a subjective thing. People find different things funny so it’s important to include different kinds of jokes. These are some of the ways in which I have tried to make the series funny:
The Steampunk Pirates are steam powered. This means that whenever they gorge themselves on wood and coal, they let out all kinds of revolting smells and noises. You wouldn’t want to be stuck in their dining cabin while they tucked into a bowl of Old Tinder’s spicy woodchip stew. Also, the pirates are made out of iron, so there are more than a few rusty nuts and bolts along the way… and the occasional squeaky bottom. Of course, the godfather of gross-out humour is Roald Dahl and I remember The Twits making me laugh out loud at its vivid descriptions of those wonderfully grotesque characters.
Wordplay and puns are never going to be the favourite of those trying to sell your foreign rights but I can’t resist them. My Ninja Meerkats series was full of silly names such as Claire Verclogs (a philosopher), Hans Free (a unicyclist) and the Delhi Llama (a llama from Delhi). You can blame Norton Juster for this. In his classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, characters jump to an island called conclusions, there’s a Watch Dog that has a large watch attached to him and people quite literally get stuck in the Doldrums.
When I was writing the Ninja Meerkats, my favourite character was Bruce. Not because he is super strong and can knock a door off its hinges (although that was handy), but because he isn’t the sharpest pencil in box. A character who doesn’t fully understand what’s going on will usually be funnier than one who is firing on all cylinders. The Steampunk Pirates are certainly not doing that. They are malfunctioning machines and that makes them unpredictable … and hopefully funny. One of the funniest characters ever created is William Brown from the Just William books. I had them on tape read by Kenneth Williams. Richmal Crompton’s William is not only funny for the ideas and schemes he comes up with. He is funny because of the way he expresses himself. Which brings us on to…
This is the biggest one for me. I love writing scenes with funny characters having silly arguments and getting wound up with each other. Some of my favourite chapters in this new series are those involving the King, the Iron Duke and poor old Admiral Fussington. As the Steampunk Pirates thwart their attempts to bring them to justice, it opens up plenty of opportunities for them to say funny things. There are loads of great books with funny dialogue but one that sticks in my mind is The Demon Headmaster by Gillian Cross because it demonstrates how a book can have an exciting plot, great characters and still be packed with loads of laugh-out-loud dialogue.
Funny books require various types of humour as you never know who will find what funny. Quite often, I put things in just because they make me laugh even though I know it’s only going to be me that finds them funny. For example, in the second Steampunk Pirates book, there is a bit where the Dread Captain Inkybeard (who keeps a squid called Nancy on his head because he needs the ink to die his beard black) is talking to a man called Chas (who is painted gold, tied to the front of a ship, and has just admitted to eating seaweed) when he calls him “a gold-plated seaweed muncher.” I’m not sure why, but it makes me smile every time I read it. I realise you are probably reading this thinking, What’s funny about that? Or maybe you’re thinking, Gosh, that last sentence was really long. I hope he doesn’t overuse brackets like this in his books. Or maybe you’re thinking, Is this going to end with a neatly made point that links to the opening paragraph or maybe something a bit more profound such as how the most tragic situations often generate the biggest laughs? Or is it just going to suddenly end on this question?
The Adventures of the Steampunk Pirates: The Leaky Battery Sets Sail was published by Stripes on February 2nd 2015.
Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlie6kjEUtM
Gareth’s website: http://www.garethwrites.co.uk/home/