Andy worked for many years as a primary school teacher in the Yorkshire Dales before turning to writing full time in 2000. He has written a huge variety of fiction and non-fiction books, children’s poetry, radio comedy sketches, and event comic greeting cards. To celebrate publication of Prankenstein we asked Andy about the naught things he got up to as a child. Here’s what he was prepared to admit to:
“The tension was almost unbearable. For my tenth birthday I’d been given one of those little toy guns that fires plastic darts with rubber suckers on the end. It was surprisingly powerful and I spent hours with my best friend Phil shooting the darts onto the windows of his house and watching them stick miraculously. The only problem was Phil’s little brother, David. He pestered us all day asking for a go but he was clearly too young at seven to handle a weapon of such power and fun so we locked ourselves in Phil’s bedroom. It was there we hatched the plan.
David was outside the door begging to come in when Phil said, “Why don’t we set up the gun so it fires a dart at him when he opens the door?”
I couldn’t see a single drawback to this outstanding idea and so we set to work using fishing line, coat hanger hooks and a whole roll of sellotape. We shifted the furniture, bent yards of wire and taped the gun to a drawer so that it faced the door. Through trial and considerable error we managed to attach the string to the door handle and route it via the coat hangers so that it squeezed the trigger when the door opened. We were almost hysterically pleased when it worked on testing.
Then we had to wait for David. The gun was primed so that the sucker would stick right in the middle of his forehead (we reckoned). But the trouble was that we’d spent hours telling him to go away. We called down for him to come and play and then hid behind Phil’s bed, giggling with anticipation and tension, being 100% sure that our prank would work.
And we were right to have such faith in our invention: footsteps arrived, the door opened, the string pulled back the trigger and the gun fired. A plastic dart blasted across the room to our immense delight. The only problem being that it wasn’t David that opened the door. To this day, decades later, I can still picture Phil’s tall, respectable father doubling over in pain as the dart wacked him in the unmentionables. We laughed ourselves silly, partly in mirth and mainly in fear.
That prank was just one of many I have played over the years and I still love a good prank to this day. They are part of the enjoyment of growing up and even when they go wrong they are huge fun to plan and set up. At secondary school I was part of a conspiracy to pin our nervous French teacher in the corner of the room by each moving our desk an inch nearer the front every time she wrote on the board.
At weekends I surreptitiously dropped stink bombs outside WH Smiths and rolled Polo mints across the marble tiles of a shopping concourse (they go miles). As a student, along with my friends, I lured a duck into our kitchen by laying a trail of Rice Krispies. It worked hilariously until the duck took off in panic and sprayed you-know-what all over the worktops, floor, walls and us.
I even played pranks when I became a teacher myself, once telling all my class that the Government had decided that all children must learnt to write with both hands in case they injure one. In agonies of amusing contortion the poor Y3s copied a whole board of handwriting in comical giant letters – well, it was April 1st.
So what about pranks now that I’m a writer? Well, I’ve put some fantastic ones in a book – my new novel for 7-11s called Prankenstein. It’s about a boy called Soapy who tracks down a prank-playing monster with his friends only to make a shocking discovery. It was huge fun to write and I hope will be even more fun to read – well, what kid doesn’t like a prank?”
This guest post was provided by Andy Seed. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups.