The writer behind The Fizzle Trilogy of books for primary school age readers shares his inspirations
Tim Walker is the author of The Fizzle trilogy, a series of action-packed adventure stories suitable for confident readers in the 7-11 age group.
The three books - Shipley Manor, The Flying Fizzler and Rise of the Rattler - are described as 'full of thrilling cliffhangers' (The Financial Times) and 'sharp and funny' (The Irish Times), and follow Polly and Tom as they seek to unravel the mystery of a special, seemingly magical water known as the Fizzle.
Their adventures, set first in Shipley Manor - the ship-shaped country house in which Polly lives - then in the Caribbean and finally the Arctic, see them overcome a host of evil villains and deadly perils as they draw ever closer to meeting the Fizzle's creator, and discovering its true purpose.
We caught up with Tim to find out how it all started...
Graphic designer turned children's author, Tim Walker
Have you always been an author – and have you always wanted to be one?
When I finished school I went to Art College. I trained to be a graphic designer and for the next 20 years I designed posters, brochures and websites. I was a late starter!
Even though I was happy being a graphic designer I used to write stories in my spare time. None of them were published, but I kept practising and never gave up.
I wrote bedtime stories for my three children. Whilst writing the Fizzle trilogy I would read them a new chapter every night. If they fell asleep halfway through I’d know that I had to make it a lot more exciting, so they were my guinea pigs.
What’s your favourite book and which author has most inspired you?
Holes by Louis Sachar is my favourite book. It’s funny, exciting and clever, and children and adults can enjoy it together. It has also been made into a great film. I wish I’d written it!
Philip Pullman, who wrote the Northern Lights trilogy, inspire me most. He realises that children are smart and deserve stories that let them think about interesting and challenging ideas. He inspired me to do that too.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I get ideas from things around me. My first book Shipley Manor is set in a country house because my writing office was in a country house. All I did was look at the ordinary things around me – the house, the gardens, and the cat who lived there - and make them extraordinary.
I’d advise anyone wanting to create a story to take something ordinary, and make it extraordinary. Imagine if your chair at school could fly? That rubber in your pencil case… what would happen if the rubber was evil and could rub out anything it wanted to? The possibilities are endless.
What do you like best about writing?
I like creating a whole world – full of exciting people and places and adventures - that didn’t exist before I imagined it. Next best is reading the whole story for the first time, which to me feels as good as crossing the finishing line after running a marathon.
Are any of your characters based on real people?
Yes. One of the nastiest characters, Barclay Grub, has long greasy hair and splashes aftershave all over himself instead of washing, just like someone I knew when I was growing up. In real life the man I knew, even though he smelt horrible, was very kind, quite the opposite of Mr Grub.
What are you writing at the moment?
I am writing a series of action-adventure stories about a boy called Colin. He lives in the caretaker's cupboard at his school and has a pet cat, an arch-enemy called Professor Pandemonium, and by far the weirdest superpowers in the universe.
>> The Fizzle Trilogy by Tim Walker, £6.99 each, Faber & Faber. Available to buy from Amazon, Waterstones, or local bookshops.