‘What inspired you to write your book?’ It’s a question I’m asked often, especially on a school visit. The answer is that I discovered Dougal Daley completely by accident – while I happened to be standing in my son’s incredibly messy bedroom.
As I looked down at the floor thinking how lovely it would be to catch a glimpse of carpet amongst the mess, I remembered the question my son had asked during dinner the evening before:
‘Mum, how do you write a will?’
It was an easier question to answer than the previous one about who I thought should be Prime Minister! But while I stood knee-deep in mess in his room the next day, I wondered how a boy his age would write his will. That is when this popped into my head:
To my mother I leave all the mess on the floor in my room, which she may put into black bin-liners and throw out of the window. I know that has always been her greatest wish.
I carried on, thinking about what items this untidy boy would leave to whom – everything from old socks to the four arm casts he’d kept to remember his broken arms by. As the words popped into my head, I realised I had a real live character in there and he was bursting to be written. I called him Dougal Daley.
After that, I needed a plot. Some secret item that Dougal Daley wanted no one to know about? Something stolen perhaps? A pet he was secretly keeping amongst the mess in his bedroom? Eventually I came up with the creature in the shed.
The first book in the series is all about how the creature came to be in Dougal’s shed and the measures he takes to keep it secret. All he knows is that the creature has sharp teeth, sharp claws and makes a lot of noise when it comes out at night. Oh, and if he tells anyone about it, or if he fails to keep it alive, he is dead. If it doesn’t eat him first of course – and that is why Dougal Daley decides to write his will.
I had huge fun writing the first Dougal Daley book and, while I was working on it, came across a lost cat notice stuck to a lamppost. Hmm, I wondered, supposing Dougal had a lost pet? What would it be and how would he lose it? Would he find it again? That is how Sybil the goliath bird eating spider came into the world, the tarantula that Dougal acquired and then promptly lost.
I had just as much fun writing the second book, Dougal Daley – Where’s my Tarantula? (Wacky Bee Books, October 2017) And, despite my fear of all things eight-legged and hairy, despite the research into the eating habits of said creatures, it turned out to be every bit as fun to write.
And now for Book Three...
Watch the book trailer for Dougal Daley here!
Dougal Daley, It's Not My Fault! Is out now!
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Jackie Marchant · Jackie Marchant
I’m Jackie Marchant and I write funny books about a boy called Dougal Daley, published by the wonderful Wacky Bee Books