of them as having. They’re all riddles and weird things. There is something at the heart of that - I’m not sure I was conscious of that, vulnerability and strength. I think that is true but not something that I was consciously thinking.’

‘I think I’m lots of different kind of writers … I try and

go with whatever seems most vivid in my head’ I ask him whether he thinks his writing has changed: ‘I’m sure I have developed as a writer - the interesting thing for me is part of the arc of my career has been about Adam my son growing older … as he was going through his teens I spent a lot of time revisiting my own teens. Some things are massively different, but some things are the same, and that to me is fascinating. I think I’m lots of different kind of writers - I’ve never had the ability to be able to stick to one way of doing things … to keep myself interested I try and go with whatever seems most vivid in my head.’

He loves experimenting: ‘When I wrote Anything That Isn’t This I found a little tiny notebook of a fable I’d written – I must have been reading Calvino and Kafka, and I thought – I used to be that kind of writer, I used to write weird little funny fables, and of all the things I’ve found in notebooks, they were the things that intrigued me most. I think I go all over the place as writer. It would be hard for me to go back and find a style. I think I do have a style but I’m not sure what it is.’

This approach has also led him in other directions: ‘I’m just about to do a funny series for Bloomsbury, a school set thing and that’s been a lot of fun to write. Middle grade, it’s a really fun age group to write for. I never had a plan to be a children’s writer, I’m not one of those people who came in thinking it was a career – I thought of myself as a writer and I just ended up writing for children. If I ended up writing for adults it wouldn’t be a change for me, it should just be another kind of writing.”

I ask him where might he go next? ‘I think the temptation for me Books for Keeps No.225 July 2017 9

would to be write for adults now. I’m a little bit unsure about the teenage fiction project. I’m worried that we’re training people to read teenage fiction rather than passing on the torch to adult fiction. I’m worried that we’re creating a generation who will always be reading books with a 16 year old protagonist. I stopped reading children’s books at the age of 16. I keep promising myself I’ll write adult fiction. A lot of it doesn’t seem very good - I think maybe I should have a go – either some short stories for adults or a creepy novel or something.’ He adds, ‘It would be quite interesting to just write something without any concern for the readership age.’

Whatever happens, it looks like we can expect a lot of interesting new projects from Priestley: ‘There is no magic for anything – you have to reinvent each time and try and make it better. There’s always that weird anti-climax when you finish a book, and writing a new one is a way of trying to address the things that you didn’t sort out in the one before.’ I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Books mentioned: Superpowerless, Hot Key Books, 978-1-4714-0497-9, £7.99 Anything that Isn’t This, Hot Key Books, 978-1-4714-0464-1, £8.99 Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror, Bloomsbury, 978-1-4088-7109-6, £6.99 Mister Creecher, Bloomsbury, 978-1-4088-1105-4, £7.99

Philip Womack is an author and critic. His latest novel The King’s Revenge is published by Troika Books and concludes the Darkening Path trilogy

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