Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
Read Part Three here.
Airship Ambassador: What do you think puts Cogheart on someone’s must read/have list?
Peter Bunzl: It’s an exhilarating and astonishing adventure filled with action and imagination, danger and daring, airships and automata, murder, mayhem and mysterious machines, dastardly deeds and devilry, and an over-opinionated mechanical fox. Plus it’s a story with heart… what more could you want from a children’s book?
AA: And a fox! If Cogheart were made into a movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
AA: If Cogheart had a soundtrack, what would it be like?
PB: There’s an excellent soundtrack for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events by Thomas Newman, also the soundtrack for Oliver Twist by Rachel Portman is delightful, I listened to both a lot while I was writing the book. Film soundtracks are brilliant for creating an atmosphere and mood while you’re writing, whereas I find any music with words becomes distracting.
AA: I have to say that while I was formatting this to post, I listened to both of those soundtracks, and really enjoyed them! Two more on the favorites list. What are some memorable fan reactions to Cogheart which you’ve heard about?
PB: Kids are the best readers because if they enjoy your book they’ll tell you so in no uncertain terms. They say things like: “You’re my favourite author of all time!” “Better than Roald Dahl!” “One of the best books I’ve ever read!” …Those kind of comments are ace, especially if they tell you personally.
AA: What kind of attention has Cogheart generated?
PB: Cogheart was in The Bookseller’s top ten children’s pick for autumn 2016. It was Waterstones Children’s Book of the Month for august, which was a spectacular start for the book. It has also hit the top ten children’s chart in WH Smiths, and is Book of the Month in Blackwell Oxford for September. Booksellers have been fantastic – creating all sorts of buzz through beautiful windows and point of sale displays. I’ve been round dozens of shops and met them in person, and they’re so lovely and enthusiastic, telling me how much they enjoyed the book, and how they’ve been hand-selling it – which is what you want! It’s been a pretty stupendous reception really!
AA: That really is very rewarding, and quite the accomplishment. How are new readers finding you?
PB: Through word of mouth recommendations from booksellers and librarians, and through written reviews from bloggers and on book sites. My website is: peterbunzl.com and you can find out more about the book there, as well as some of my other projects.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons did you learn about having an agent and editor, their feedback, and your writing?
PB: Editors and agents want to help you make your book shine, so consider all their suggestions and if you think those things make the book better, take them on board. If there’s something you’re not sure you agree with have a chat. They love your book and want to hear your thoughts and discuss them. They’re your first loyal readers and supportive fans, and with their help you can hopefully clarify all the plot issues as you edit, because if you don’t your readers down the line might misunderstand something about the story.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
PB: I have done a book tour around primary schools. You get great reactions when you meet the kids, they’re so excited to hear about how you wrote your book and where the ideas came from. If you can make the presentation interactive and fun and talk to them about themselves too that draws them in. It’s so cool when they come up to you at the end and say they loved your book, or talk about their favourite stories, or what mechanimal they’d like; tell you who’s the best Pokemon, or ask about animation.
AA: That sounds like a great opportunity where kids get excited about trying it for themselves. What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
PB: Probably not enough. I love writing, but at the moment it seems to be taking a back seat to promotion, so I need to balance that out. I also need to cut down on the social media a bit – that starts to take over your free time. I’m a little bit addicted to Twitter at the moment.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers about writing?
PB: Over the years I have been a member of three different writers groups. It’s an awesome way to get feedback on your work, and also to join other writers in celebrations, commiserations, learning and support.
The other thing I did when I was trying to get an agent was join SCBWI – the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators – it’s a fabulous organisation that supports published and pre-published children’s writers and illustrators. They have events and socials and a conference. Through SCBWI I’ve met so many friendly writers who’ve given me wise advice about the publishing industry.
AA: Some people might say that writers need to be readers, too. What do you think about that and what would you say your ratio of reading to writing is/was?
PB: Writers definitely need to read. A lot! I’ve no idea what my ratio of reading to writing is. I would say I read more than I write, and across all genres – I think that’s so important when you’re searching for ideas. So I read Victorian novels, children’s books, YA, science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, literary fiction, screenplays, poetry – an eclectic mix.
AA: As a reader, what has made you stop reading something before finishing it? How do you try to avoid that issue in your own writing?
PB: Info-dumping annoys me more than anything else, especially at the start of a novel or short story. I will put up with it for a while, but if there’s reams and reams in early chapters, that makes me want to stop reading.
We’ll break here in chatting with Peter. Join us next time when he talks about his writing process.
You can support Peter and our community by getting your copy of Cogheart here.