Tuesday 7 October 2014

Guest Post by Matt Brown (author of Compton Valance: The Time-Travelling Sandwich Bites Back)

Back at the beginning of August I posted a review of Compton Valance: The Most Powerful Boy in the Universe, the debut book by writer Matt Brown. It was definitely one of the funniest books I have read this year, and I enjoyed it so much that when a copy arrived from those lovely people at Usborne, on the very same day that my copy of David Walliams's Awful Auntie arrived, it was Matt Brown's book that I chose to read first. Seriously, if you have a child who loves funny stories and hilarious toilet humour then I urge you to get them a copy of the first book, and when they love that go and get them a copy of this second book, which is just as funny and just as full of crazy time travel adventure as its predecessor.

Naturally, when I was asked if I would be interested in hosting a guest piece from Matt on The Book Zone and did not hesitate to say "yes, please!", so it gives me great pleasure to hand you over to Matt Brown:

Prepare yourselves for a shock.  This is me when I was ten…

When I was ten I spent a lot of time thinking about where I would go if I had a time machine.  This was probably due to my love of time travel telly, books and movies. I always wondered what life will be like in the future – and lots of the Science Fiction stories I loved at this age helped me imagine what the future might look like. I think my fascination might also have something to do with the fact that I was born in the last half of the last century.  As a kid in the 1980s I always tried to picture what my life would be like in the year 2000, which at the time seemed like an impossibly long way into the future.  I thought that we’d all be eating pills for food and living with robots.

If you have read the first book in the Compton Valance series, you might have noticed some references to some of my favourite sci-fi stories. For example, Compton Valance’s horrible teacher is called Mr Strickland.  I got Strickland’s name from Back To The Future because Marty McFly’s horrible teacher is called… Mr Strickland. And you might have noticed that Compton lives in Morlock Cottage.  I got the name Morlock from HG Well’s classic time travel book, The Time Machine.  The Morlocks are a fictional species from over 800,000 years in the future.  This reference is continued in the third Compton book that I’ve just finished writing with a new character called Lola Weena.

Doctor Who was also a show that I loved as a kid (and as an adult).  I really love how this crazy, oddly-dressed British bloke travels around through space and time and into the darkest corners of the universe.  My character Samuel Nathaniel Daniels, part man-from-the-future and part civil servant, wears a tight silver suit and a tiny bowler hat perched on top of his head. This look was definitely inspired by the strange wardrobe of clothes that The Doctor wears. 

So many other sci-fi stories have inspired me and while their influence might not be as obvious as the ones I’ve mentioned, their grip on me as a writer was just as powerful.  Stories like The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, the world of Judge Dredd in the 2000AD comics, TV shows like Buck Rogers and movies such as 2001: A Space Odyssey.  All of these stories and a whole load more have in some way, small and large, wheedled their way in to my Compton Valance stories.  Some were intended and others were accidental. But then that’s the wonderful thing about writing, isn’t it?  We are all magpies, collecting references wherever we go and readying them to line our story nests at a moment’s notice.

When you read the book see if you can spot the other influences that have made it in!

Matt Brown is the author of the Compton Valance series, two fantastically funny and delightfully disgusting time-travelling adventures, perfect for fans of The Wimpy Kid and David Walliams. The second book in the series, The Time-Travelling Sandwich Bites Back, is out now.

For more information and loads of fun things to do visit You can also follow Matt on Twitter at @frazzleddaddy. 


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