Today we have children author Bob Burke over for an interview. Bob Burke is the author of The Third Pig Dectective Agency Series. Enjoy the interview and if you have time leave a comment for the author below!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
About me: I’m (quite a bit) over 21, spend my life chauffeuring three boys to whatever activity they’re doing tonight, enjoy killing zombies online, supporting Chelsea in football and Munster in rugby and reading most anything that’s put in front of me! I’d dabbled (badly for the most part) in writing since I was very young and – what’s worse – used to illustrate my own stories. I learned a very valuable lesson out of this: never illustrate unless you can actually draw; the results may be somewhat other than anticipated. Like most people, I was always full of good intentions and ideas but usually got bored or distracted very quickly (‘look, shiny objects!”) so my good starts rarely resulted in anything ever continuing beyond a few chapters. Eventually I began to write articles for in-house magazines and, because I used to put my own tongue-in-cheek slant on them, people seemed to enjoy reading them. Figuring that there might be something on the humourous writing side, I began to put some ideas together but nothing really hit home until the inspiration for the Third Pig struck!
Your are the author of The Third Pig dectective agency series, can you tell us a little about it?
The Third Pig Detective Agency tells what happened to the sole survivor of the shocking Three Little Pigs Incident (which you may have read about when you were younger). Homeless and broke, the surviving pig, Harry Pigg, decides to capitalise on his wolf-killing fame by becoming a detective. As I’ve always been a big fan of detective fiction, this gave me huge scope by imagining if these well known fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters were alive in the real world, what kind of jobs would they have and what kind of cases would a pig detective be required to solve. Of course the stories aren’t to be taken seriously and require major suspension of disbelief. Harry himself is fun to write as he isn’t quite as smart or as brave as he thinks he is and I quite enjoy making his life as miserable as possible by getting out of a sticky situation by dropping him into an even stickier one (literally, in some cases!). Despite this he always manages to muddle through – even with the ‘help’ of his two associates: an ex-genie and a 10 year-old wannabe detective, Jack Horner. I try and lace the books with as many jokes (good and bad), puns (clever to awful), and TV and movie references (especially to classic SF and Horror films) as possible and I work on the principle that if the reader doesn’t enjoy a particular joke, don’t worry there’ll be another one along shortly.
Where did you get the idea for the series? (I can see fairytales may have had an influence!)
The idea came from a combination of three things: reading bedtime stories to my middle son, reading detective novels (which I love) and the Champions League!! An unlikely combination but there is method in my madness. I used to tell the regular cycle of bedtime fairytales to my son. He used to go to bed at 7:30 so I ensured we were finished by 7:45 so I could catch the Champions League on the telly. His favourite was the Three Little Pigs – which I had to tell over and over and over…well, you get the picture but I had always told the sanitised version of the story where everyone survived and lived happily ever after. Purely to stave off the boredom, I began to embellish the story by killing off the first two pigs and the wolf and my son loved this new take on the old story. Of course once you start embellishing, the expectation is that you keep doing so. One evening, as I headed for the door to watch the footie, my son asked what became of the third pig in the story. Anxious not to miss kick off, I said the first thing that came into my head: ‘he became a detective’. Happy that I’d staved off that line of questioning, I was heading out the door when my son asked what kind of cases the pig solved. With kick-off fast approaching, I said I’d write him a story about the pig’s adventures, assuming, quite wrongly, that he’d forget all about it. Once I knew I had to come up with a story, the first book virtually wrote itself over the following months.
You just recently released the third book in the series, The curds and Whey mystery. What has been the response the new book so far?
Reviews for The Curds and Whey Mystery are still thin on the ground but the feedback I’ve received from readers is that they feel it’s the strongest of the series so far. It was certainly a lot of fun to write.
Your books have alot of humor in them. Can you tell us a joke?
I can’t tell jokes very well – and they probably read even worse on paper but here goes:
At the bottom of the sea, a squid was feeling poorly. A shark was passing by and noticed that the squid was off-colour.
“What’s wrong?” the shark asked.
“Oh, I’m not feeling too good,” the squid replied.
“I know just the thing to sort you out,” said the shark. “Follow me.”
So the squid follows the shark and eventually they come to a cave which has a congor eel peering out. The shark grabs the squid and throws him at the conger eel saying to him, “There you go. That’s the sick squid I owe you!”
And yes, there are lots of jokes just like that in the book!!
What is next for Harry Pigg?
That really depends on the publisher (and sales of the other books). I finish each book by setting up Harry’s next case in the last page or two and the end of the Curds and Whey Mystery leads to what may be Harry’s biggest case yet. I can’t say too much as it would spoil the ending but I’m hopeful more of his adventures will see the light of day.
The first three books in the series are available to buy now:
You can also get the books from most book stores!
Stalk the author:
Facebook as Bob Burke
Bob has kindly sent me a book excerpt from the new book The Curd and they Whey Mystery, check it out:
A Bit of
“Are you guys really serious about this?” Gloria, my receptionist, had offered to give some tips on makeup and clothes but seemed to be having second thoughts now that she’d actually seen our disguises. At the moment she was touching up my face with mascara and gloss – whatever they were – and seemed to be finding it tremendously difficult to refrain from smirking – if not guffawing loudly. “There,” she said, putting her magical makeup kit away. “You’re done but I have to say it: even if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig.”
With as much dignity as I could muster – which wasn’t a lot considering I was wearing a long blonde wig, high heels and a black minidress – I pointed out that as ideas went, our one had legs (and probably better ones than mine) and, if it came off (insert whatever gratuitous pun you like here) would probably help hugely in breaking the case.
I stood up and tottered around the office, teetering from side to side as I tried to keep my balance. “How do women stay upright in these heels,” I asked. “Is tightrope walking a genetic trait that all women have or something?”
“You’ll get used to it eventually, though I’m not sure you’ll be ready by the time you go undercover.” Gloria paused for a second and looked even more closely at me. “Remind me again, who are you supposed to be exactly?”
“I am Harriet Du Crepe and I am the personal assistant and general dogsbody for that well-known foreign movie director Alain Schmidt-Heye.”
Gloria’s face began to crumble into gales of laughter when she realised the full implications of my last statement.”
“So let me get this right. You, a large male pig are going undercover as a female PA to an international film director who can only be…” She never got to finish her sentence. Before she could say any more the door from my office, where Basili had been changing, opened and he entered the room. His entrance certainly had an impact, although not, perhaps, the impact we might have expected. Gloria collapsed on the desk, laughing uncontrollably, tears of hilarity streaming from her eyes.
“Is your lady assistant being most amused at my outfit?” said a somewhat indignant Basili. “I am thinking that, after studying pictures of many famous directors of movies, that it is perhaps a most accurate representation.”
I wasn’t sure what illustrations he’d actually studied but I wasn’t convinced that his outfit was as representative as he thought. Brown knee-high riding boots covered tan plus-fours. On his upper body, a lurid red smoking jacket and a white silk shirt jostled for prominence. The overall over-the-top effect was completed by a white silk scarf draped casually around his neck, white gloves, a cigarette holder (with no actual cigarette) dangling from his mouth and a black beret rakishly plonked on his head. He did look a bit extreme but time wasn’t on our side. We had to make do with what we were able to pick up at Freddie’s Fancy Dress Store, having sent Basili out with a shopping list.
In hindsight, maybe I should have gone myself. But it was too late now.
Gloria had recovered some of her composure. “So you go into Miss Muffet’s B&B, you snoop around dressed like that and you hope people are going to give something away – other than an award for the most ludicrous outfit in the house. And on that note, how exactly are you going to justify your presence there in the first instance.”
“Our story is that we’re scouting locations for a haunted house movie that Basili - I mean Mr. Schmidt-Heye – will be filming early next year. Miss Muffet’s is a prime candidate, I think you’ll agree.”
“I’ll take your word for it, but I think you need to get in character Harry, the voice needs to be a little higher otherwise people will see through your disguise – assuming they don’t cop to you as soon as you walk in the door.”
I puffed out my (enhanced) chest indignantly. “I was a very talented actor when I was younger, I’ll have you know. I played a leading role in my school’s Nativity play and my performance got great reviews in the school newsletter.”
Gloria looked like she was biting her lip. “If you say so,” she said. “On a more serious note, how are you going to get to Miss Muffet’s? You’re going to have to look the part from the moment you arrive.”
“Hah, I knew you’d ask that. Ali Baba still owes me a favour after I sorted him out at Christmas, so he’s allowing me to use one of his stretch magic carpets. It’ll make quite an entrance.”
“Could you not have used an ordinary limo; you know, one with actual wheels?”
“I couldn’t afford to rent one and, anyway, Ali doesn’t use them; he flies everywhere, so magic carpet it is.”
“Just as long as you don’t fall off,” smirked Gloria.
“This isn’t one of the sporty, streamlined ones Ali normally uses. It’s a big one with loads of room - and seat-belts. We should be fine. Anyway, it’s a short ride when you’re not on the ground.”
I gestured to Basili. “Right Mr. Director, you ready to go?”
“But Mr. Harry, I know nothing about the making of the movies. What will I be saying if someone should be talking to me?”
“Look, you’re a big-time movie director so act like one. You haven’t got time to speak to mere mortals like the guests at the B&B. If anyone tries to engage you in conversation, just sneer and refer them to me. As your PA, my job is to answer any questions. While we’re in there, you’re job is to listen, ok? Just think of these words and you’ll be fine: arrogant, superior, enigmatic.”
Basili nodded. “Ah, now I am seeing. You want me to be acting just like you.”
Before I could reply with furious indignation at the slur on my impeccable character, the phone on Gloria’s desk rang. “Yes,” she said. “They’re here. I’ll send them right out.” Hanging up she said, “Your magic carpet awaits.”
Together, Basili and I headed for the door.
“Be careful, won’t you,” Gloria said, still grinning. “And remember; stay in character at all times, you don’t want to blow your cover.”
“We’ll be fine, daaaaarling” I drawled in my finest PA voice.
I could have sworn I heard an ‘I’m not so sure’ from the office as the door closed behind us but I couldn’t be certain.
I was so eager to get to Miss Muffet’s and begin our undercover operation that I made a fatal mistake as I closed the door behind me. I still hadn’t quite mastered the art of woman walking so, forgetting to take off my shoes, I teetered on the landing and took a tentative step forward before stumbling over the first step and sliding down the rest of them on my backside, landing in an undignified heap on the floor below. There are twenty four steps from my office to street level and I felt every single one of them as I bounced my way down.
Struggling to my feet, I hiked my dress down and, ignoring the smirks of our chauffeur, clambered aboard the stretch magic carpet making sure I was securely strapped in before taking off. On our way across town, I briefed Basili some more on the dos and don’ts of being a movie director.
“When we get there, do not get off this carpet until I say so. It’s my job to make sure that everything is ready for you inside. Say nothing unless I ask you a question and nod knowingly if I point anything out. Do not open any doors; I’ll make sure they are opened for you. You will eat alone at a separate table. That will give you an opportunity to study everyone as I’ll be eating with them.”
Basili looked uncertain. “I am not so sure about this. What if I am making a mistake.”
“Don’t worry about it, I’ll be there to clean up any mess but, if you don’t say anything, there’s probably no way you’ll get into trouble.” Considering his track record I wasn’t so sure but I had to build up his confidence as best I could.
The fresh air blasting our faces as we threaded our way through the buildings of downtown Grimmtown reminded me of something that, despite its obviousness, I had completely failed to take into consideration: the ex-genie’s flatulence problem. “Basili, under no circumstances are you to fart. It will completely undermine your credibility. I might be able to argue one or two of them away as sewage problems or something but if it happens consistently it may damage our relationship with the guests.” Not to mention their lungs, vision and general well being.
“I will do my utmost, Mr. Harry but it is a most remarkably difficult thing to do.”
As if I didn’t have enough problems already.
“Where is Jack?” asked Basili. Surely he is being here with us?”
“He’s already at the B&B, settling in. I spoke to his mother and got her ok for him to be a kitchen boy at weekends. Not only will he let us know what’s going on behind the scenes but he’ll get a bit of pocket money as well. The only drawback is he’ll have to work for it.”
“Ah yes, the staff. Isn’t it always the butler that is doing these things? Perhaps we should be taking a closer look at this man.”
“No Basili, it isn’t and I’m not even sure Miss Muffet employs a butler. Let’s not start jumping to conclusions just yet.”
“You are right.” His face dropped. “I am still so very new to this game of detectives. I have very much to learn.”
I patted him on the shoulder. “But you’re learning all the time. We’re nearly there so remember what I told you and, above all, please don’t fart.”
Basili gave me a weak and totally unconvincing smile as the magic carpet glided to halt outside the B&B.
“Ok, we’re up. Don’t move until I get back. If anyone tries to engage you in conversation just ignore them and act superior.”
Basili nodded and looked glum.
I rummaged in my handbag. “ Here, wear these,” I said, handing him a pair of sunglasses. He looked at them doubtfully.
“But we are in winter and there is no sun to be shining.”
“It doesn’t matter. Movie people wear shades all the time, indoors and outdoors. It’s a sort of a trade mark.” And it will hide some more of your face, I said to myself.
Right, it was time to get fully in character. Chest out, balance, do not wobble and remember you’re a PA. I recited this little mantra over and over as I stepped gingerly down from the magic carpet. Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward, put my shoe down very carefully and repeated the operation with my other foot. I found that if I swayed gently from side to side it made walking a little bit easier. Balancing like I was on the deck of a small ship in a hurricane, I rolled towards the door of the B&B, opened it and stepped into the world of the movie business.
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