author interview

An Author in My Head: An interview with Barbara Catchpole

With Publication Day for our latest release, Dead Ed in My Head, being just a month away, we thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with the novel’s author, Barbara Catchpole. We asked her about embodying the voices of old men and what made her laugh out loud. Have a read and get excited for Dead Ed!

So Dead Ed is quite a quirky book, what inspired you to write it?

I’ve always been amazed at the communication gap between young people and people of my age. It’s like young people can hear you but they’re not listening. All they hear is : “yahdi, yahdi, blah, blah, blah”. Similarly, I’m always amazed at the way fully-grown adults mess things up on more or less a daily basis, and still think they know best. They think they know best, so they don’t listen either. So I wondered what it would be like if the two just couldn’t get away from each other – if they had to listen.

In the book, you have to capture the voices of Tod and Ed- one an angsty teenager, and the other an adventure-seeking old man- was it challenging to try and embody both? What was the process of that like?

It wasn’t difficult to capture the two voices of the main characters (if I have). Ed was easy because I’m about that age. I still say the things my parents used to say. Of course, I do! And it’s lovely to sort of ‘hear’ my parents again when I use the old sayings.

Now, thanks to technology, young people speak a whole different, new and exciting language that is constantly changing. There was no point in trying to capture it because it will be different tomorrow. What I could capture (again, I hope, anyway) was the anger that young people feel when they are abandoned or marginalised by those they love. As a teacher, I’ve seen many young men like Tod who are angry but don’t know why they’re angry.

Did anyone you know inspire the character of Ed? 

I see Ed in every newspaper photo of a wrinkly member of a rock band, still out there rocking. He has the stroppiness of the generation that have lived through a world war and the swinging sixties and are now pushing into the post office queue. He has lived his life to the full and still not had enough!

When writing a book as funny as this one, one would assume that writing it was fun. Were there any scenes which had you laughing out loud as you wrote them?

I laughed at chlamydia and the expectant kangaroo, Ed looking at the wildlife pool and thinking ‘crispy duck’, dog turd pavement, the outline of Jordan, Lacey’s toilet waterfall and actually; I just had the best time ever writing it. I have an inappropriate and uncontrollable sense of humour so it was nice to just let go!

If you could have the spirit of any dead person in your head, who would you choose and why?

I would have Terry Wogan. Definitely! In fact, it might be a bit like having Ed in your head without Ed’s selfishness. Terry Wogan used to share my car on the radio every morning on the way to work and I would get along just fine with him. I know I should say Mother Teresa but she was a real saint and she would hate it inside my head. It would just be cruel!

And finally, in one sentence, why should people get excited for Dead Ed?

It’s a very funny book with a deeper message that you can totally ignore if you want (the message, not the book – read the book)! 

Dead Ed in My Head is due for release on the 18th May 2017.