We are honored to welcome Frank Cottrell Boyce in from the cold to discuss his 3 sequels to Ian Fleming’s (only) children’s book Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The first—Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again—was published inOctober 2011. The second, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Race Against Time was released in September 2012 and the third sequel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Over the Moon was released on in September 2013.
1. How much of an influence was Ian in your approach to writing the CCBB sequels?
Hugely!! There is so much that is special about the original Chitty. For example the whole family go on the adventure. That’s really unusual in children’s stories = they normally start with the parents being killed! Ian had originally planned to write a lot more about Chitty but died before he got the chance so I felt that I was honouring him by doing that. Also he got the idea for Chitty from watching the real Chitty – Count Zborowski’s famous “monster car” – race at Brooklands. I went to Brooklands and really dug into that era (the count is a big character in my books) – so I was influenced not just by his writing but also by the real things that he had seen and heard. I really did take a walk in his shoes.
2. Did you learn anything from Ian in general terms about writing?
I love the tone in his Chitty book. The way the narrator explains how things work and so on – gives the whole book a strong sense of a Father talking to his child. Also he has a great eye for detail – especially when it comes to food! Maybe an important part of his appeal is that he notices and relishes these small pleasures – so I’ll be copying that from now on.
3. Ian famously wrote the original for his son Caspar; were your children an influence and did they give you feedback?
Oh goodness yes!! They read every draft.
They were very vociferous about what they liked and didn’t like. Also they have much better memories so they were able to jump on me if I made any mistakes with the continuity.
I think it was good that they were so involved because after all Chitty doesn’t belong to me = she belongs to the nation. I just had the unbelievable good fortune of being allowed to take her for a spin.
4. Are there any more sequels in the works?
For Chitty? Not from me! The original Chitty came out in three parts and we wanted to do the same again – write a book that came in three installments as a kind of tribute.
5. You’ve written screenplays, novels and even Olympic ceremonies, which do you find the most challenging?
Screenplays are easier to write, definitely. I always say – it’s much easier to write a screenplay than it is to write a novel but it’s much easier to get a novel published than it is to get a film made!
Frank Cottrell Boyce is the author of several well-known books for children including Framed, Cosmic and Millions, which was adapted into a film by director Danny Boyle. Boyce is also a successful screenwriter, whose credits include Hilary and Jackie, Welcome to Sarajevo, 24 Hour Party People, The Railway Man and Doctor Who.
He has recently achieved fame as the writer for the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Cottrell-Boyce has won two major British awards for children’s books, the 2004 Carnegie Medal for Millions, which originated as a film script, and the 2012 Guardian Prize for The Unforgotten Coat, which was commissioned by a charity.
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