Alan Durant celebrates the publication of his 100th book!
Huge congratulations to author Alan Durant for the publication of his 100th book – Clownfish.
“From award-winning author Alan Durant comes a surreal, poignant story about family bonds and loss. Dak’s dad has been dead for seven days when suddenly he reappears. He’s the same in almost every way, with one startling exception: Dad has turned into a clownfish, and now lives in a tank at their local aquarium. Dak is delighted by the news – he has Dad back, even if he isn’t quite as he was before. Deciding to keep Dad’s transformation a secret, Dak visits him at the aquarium as often as he can, and ends up spending so much time there that they offer him a job. This is how he comes to meet Violet, the owner’s prickly but kindhearted niece; when the aquarium is threatened with closure, the pair must work together to save it. For Dak, the stakes couldn’t be higher … after all, if the aquarium shuts down, what will happen to the fish? In parts wry, moving and undoubtedly strange, this beautifully crafted story will stay with you long after the final page.”
We spoke to Alan about reaching this huge milestone.
Congratulations on your 100th book – quite an occasion. Does the excitement of having a book published ever diminish and become normal – or is it still a cause for excitement?
Every published book is a cause for celebration because it’s really hard to get a book published. But obviously the 100th book is special.
Your books cover a wide range of genres and age groups – which are easier for you to write?
None and all. I started off as a YA novelist and short story writer and then wrote picture books and all the rest when I had children. I’m the sort of author who doesn’t like to write in the same area twice. A marketing nightmare!
Where did the inspiration for Clownfish come from?
It all started such a long time ago (I began it last century in 1999!) that I actually can’t recall. Though I’ve always been fascinated by tropical fish and the structures they make.
Can you remember you first ever published book – does it hold a special place in your heart still?
Of course! Hamlet, Bananas and All That Jazz was my first book and I loved writing it. It was rejected many times before Ann-Janine Murtagh, a young editor at The Bodley Head (now the Publisher at Harper Collins Children’s Books), took it on, along with my second book, Blood.
Any of your books you are most proud of?
Probably Always and Forever, a picture book about bereavement, because I know from the mail I receive what an inspiration and comfort it continues to be for children and adults who are grieving the death of a loved one.
Which books do you feel are a ‘safe bet’ to get children engaged when put in front of a group of pupils who aren’t avid readers?
My picture book Burger Boy is the book I read most often because it seems to appeal to all ages. But also my Game Boy books, which were written for my reluctant reader son.
Do you think you have another 100 books in you?
No. I’m less prolific these days. But numbers have never been important. I write because I have something to say and will continue to do so (published or not) until I don’t. Or die. Which reminds me of a question from a boy in a school who, on hearing the many books I’d written, asked, “How many more books will you write before you expire?”
Advice for young people who would like to be a writer?
Read! Read and read – and not always the same kinds of thing. Challenge yourself to choose a book that you know nothing about. I did aged 10 and it turned out to be my favourite book ever and one of the main reasons I became a writer (The King of the Castle by Meriol Trevor). Then write and write. Listen to those whose opinion you trust but never forget that you are the author. Believe in yourself!
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