Christmas is coming and finding presents for the younger members of our families is at the forefront of our minds. Today, we have a great idea for the 8-12-year-olds in your lives, the recently published Billy’s Brain Booster Juice which, as the reviews will tell you is…
It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Billy’s creator, the author Becci Murray from Gloucestershire. Becci has written sketches for children’s television, along with theatre plays for a children’s drama company and now, Billy’s Brain Booster Juice.
I’ve recently visited your fantastic new website @ www.llamahousebooks.com. I love that you are encouraging Billy’s fans to upload their drawings of Billy and the other characters from the book. I also read that you have a life-size BFG sticker on your bedroom wall, which gives me a clue as to what your answer will be to my first question might be.
BECCI: As a child, I loved Roald Dahl, and as an adult, I’ve become quietly obsessed with him. I love his unlikely heroes and terrible adversaries, and my very favourite book is The Magic Finger. It’s about a girl who turns her nasty neighbours into life-size ducks by pointing at them. I always wished I had a magic finger when I was a child and used to try it out on people who walked past our house – it never worked, but I’ll keep practising!
TESSA: I often think having a magic finger as an adult would come in useful sometimes. When did you first decide you wanted to write?
BECCI: I’ve always enjoyed writing and started with poetry as a teenager. I didn’t write the usual teenage angst-style poems, but humorous ones about silly things. There was one about my brother’s toenails. It was accepted into an anthology! I’ve never told him that, but I’m sure he’ll be thrilled to find out.
TESSA: Teenage angst poetry was definitely my thing. Have you written other books before Billy’s Brain Booster Juice?
BECCI: I have lots of books lurking on my laptop, and I plan to revise some of them now I’ve caught the self-publishing bug. I’ve also written several scripts for a children’s theatre company and sold a couple of sketches to CBBC programme Class Dismissed a few years ago, so script-writing is also something I really enjoy.
TESSA: It’s always good when you find stories lurking on your laptop, especially when you’ve forgotten you’ve written them. How long did it take you to write ‘Billy’s story‘?
BECCI: I initially wrote this book about 15 years ago. Then I adapted it into a television series, and it did well in a BBC Writersroom competition, so I wanted it to be my first self-published book all these years later.
TESSA: Was Billy’s character based on someone you know?
BECCI: Billy wasn’t based on anyone in particular, but I hope he’s someone all children can relate to in some way or another. However, the terrible Mrs Granger was based on a teacher at my primary school – but they had better remain nameless!
TESSA: I had an MRS Granger when I was a primary school in Cheltenham, and it’s just a matter of time before she is exposed cloaked in a new persona. Will Billy’s Brain Booster Juice be part of a series of books, or are you working on new characters for your next book?
BECCI: There were plans many years ago to write a series of Billy books, but at the moment I’m working on a different title for a slightly older age-range. It should be ready for publication towards the beginning of next year. I also have a new ‘choose the page’ book coming out in time for Christmas called The Stocking Filler, which I hope will appeal to reluctant readers and budding bookworms alike.
TESSA: In my first book, I flew by the seat of my pants! The second time around, my storyline has been well-plotted. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
BECCI: I like to think I’m a plotter. But in reality, I have lots and lots of notebooks all full of plans that I pretty much ignore when it comes to writing a book, so I guess I’m a total pantser!
TESSA: As a single parent, it must be hard to find the time to write. How do you manage to squeeze in the time?
BECCI: It can be difficult, but as a single parent I spend a LOT of time sitting in my car outside various music lessons, dance classes, school clubs etc. and it has genuinely become my favourite place to write.
TESSA: Has publishing your first book changed your process of writing?
BECCI: I’m not sure it has changed my process of writing, but I think I’ve become more focused now. To know children are enjoying my book really means a lot to me and I want to make sure the next ones are enjoyable too.
TESSA: I noticed that you work for a Way With Words, which sounds intriguing. Please, coul.d you tell us a bit more about it?
BECCI: Way With Words is a company I get work from as an audio transcriber – sadly, not as intriguing as it sounds but still a great name for a company! Saying that I’ve been doing audio transcription work for several years now and it has definitely influenced my writing. When you’re listening to people talking all day every day, you start noticing the way they phrase things and how conversations aren’t quite so neatly structured as you sometimes read in a book. When I’m writing direct speech, I try to incorporate some of that.
TESSA: It has been an absolute delight to have had the opportunity to chat with you, Becci. Thank you so much for agreeing to talk to us here at Lost Blogs, and we, wish you every success with Billy’s Brain Booster Juice, and The Stocking Filler. If you ever disclose the recipe for the Billy’s Booster Juice, you have my email address… In the meantime, I’m sure all those children who are enjoying Billy’s stories, will be looking forward to reading more of your books in the future.