Gareth P Jones: The Considine Curse wins Blue Peter Book of the Year 2012
Published on: 1 Mawrth 2012
Congratulations! What does it mean to you to win the Blue Peter Book of the Year 2012?
Thanks. It's brilliant. It was an honour just to be nominated because I'm sure the panel had to wade through a lot of books to come up with the shortlist and I was delighted that they chose The Considine Curse as one of them. I believe the winning book was decided by the readers themselves, which is a tremendous thing. It's nice when just one person reads your book and says they liked it so to know that a lot of people did is...
Oh, I'm running out of superlatives... you get the idea though. It feels good. Finally, it is also nice to think that it might help others find the book now. With so many books being published, it's extremely difficult to publicise books if you're not pre-famous, so winning a national book prize like this is very exciting.
We have heard a rumour that you have written a song for The Considine Curse. Is this true and would you be happy to share some of the lyrics with us to put on our site?
I write songs about all my books as I find this a good way to introduce the books to audiences who may not have read them yet. With The Considine Curse it was different. It's written in the first person, which I found difficult. Mariel is a troubled girl having a very disturbing time so I had to find a way into writing from her perspective. To do this I wrote a strange melody (with the chords Am - Eb, Dm, C#m Cm if you're really interested). I would play this before writing the next chapter to get myself in the right place. Once I had finished the book I put some words to it, including a howl-along bit for the audience. The lyrics for the chorus go:
It's The Considine Curse
Being overlooked or underrated
The Considine Curse
Being loved by your family or being hated.
Some who hear it ask what that last line means. I tell them to read the book. Being loved by a family is not necessarily a good thing, if that family has a secret as dark at its heart as the Considines.
You write a mix of funny books and scary ones – do you prefer writing one genre over the other?
My favourite books have a bit of everything. Life is both funny and scary. It can also be exciting, romantic, interesting and a million other things. I try to bring all these elements into my books. The Considine Curse didn't end up with that many laughs but I think there are some light moments in there. Elspeth's quite funny, isn't she? No? Maybe, that's just me.
Can you give us some tips on how to make a book spooky?
Probably to find that which scares you and use that. Anticipation is also very important. It's almost a relief when Mariel does find out what the curse is. Before then, it's the not knowing that is scary.
Has your work as a TV producer helped with your writing?
Two big parts of TV are producing and editing. Producing is often about finding the best way to tell a story while editing involves taking out anything unecessary to the telling of that story. Also, I've been privileged enough to spend a good few years traveling the country (and the world) meeting great authors, so that's not been unhelpful.
Which books and/or authors did you like to read when you were 10?
I flitted about all over the place and my memory is far too poor to tell you what I was reading at a specific age but some of my favourites included Lynne Reid Banks, Ursula Le Guin and Justin Norton's Phantom Tollbooth.
If children enjoyed reading The Considine Curse, which other of your books would you recommend?
I have written a Victorian ghost story called Constable & Toop. It's set in and around London and is about how someone is murdering people in order to fill haunted houses with ghosts. It's got elements of real stories like Burke & Hare and Jack the Ripper, but I also read lots of ghost stories written by writers like Dickens, Poe and Henry James.