Happy New Year cHEwY gum gums, we kick off 2013 with a special guest post from my pal Nathan Luff who has a new funny book out, Bad Grammar!

Nathan’s on a blog tour so he’s stopped at Winfree As a Word for a quick cuppa and some juicy revelations…take it away Nathan…

I often get asked, “Where do you get your inspiration?” The short answer is: EVERYWHERE. The long answer is: I’m not telling you or you’ll steal it and it’s mine, mine I tell you!

I guess you’re trustworthy enough to share some of my secrets with. When it comes to characters, as a starting point I observe the people around me. If I see anything interesting, such as someone on a train eating shredded cardboard, I write it down in my notebook and it might become the basis for a character later on.

Bad Grammar is set at a rather strange boarding school, so I needed to create some weird teachers to match the school. For this, I delved into my past. I think everyone comes across weird-o teachers throughout their schooling. I certainly did.

Generally I was a well-behaved and diligent student. That was until the day I met this one teacher, who, to protect his identity, I shall call Mr Wrong. I got into a heated argument with Mr Wrong because he insisted that everyone picked his or her nose and ate the contents found within. He said anyone who denied it was a liar. The thought of picking my nose and eating it still makes me feel ill.

But he wouldn’t believe me no matter how much I argued.

Because he was crazy.

We had this one teacher with the nickname Mulga Bill. Mulga Bill rode her bicycle everywhere and every morning and afternoon she would be the near cause of multiple traffic accidents. She rode all over the road, oblivious to the cars and trucks trying to get past her. The worse thing was, because I lived in a small town, she could identify everyone by their car numberplates, and if a relative of yours almost crashed into her, she would find you at school and scream at you until you cried.

Another teacher, we shall call her Miss Bruised-Head, once got hit in the head by a soccer ball. She was so upset she demanded that something be done. The Principal (we shall call her Ms No-Idea) decided to implement a new rule. She allowed us to continue playing soccer but insisted that the ball could only ever be kicked in one direction. This way, Miss Bruised-Head could safely stand at one end of the oval and avoid more brain injury. What it meant for us was once we’d kicked the ball from one goal to the other (with the opposing team left to do nothing but stand there as obstacles) we had no option but to pick up the ball, carry it back to the starting goal and do it again. This rule alteration made the game completely pointless and very one-sided.

Finally we had a teacher, I shall call her Miss Songbird, who would only ever talk to you in song. If you tried talking to her in a normal voice, she would sing, “I can’t hear you, unless you sing a song …”

Some qualities of these eccentric people have inspired characters in Bad Grammar, though during the writing process my imagination takes hold and the characters take on a life of their own, becoming quite unrecognisable. I’m always on the lookout for more interesting characters to add to my notebook … so if you know anyone, let me know.

Bad Grammar is out now and available at all good bookshops (if you local bookshop doesn’t have it, it is a bad bookshop. Get them to order it in, so they can be good again).

Thanks Nathan, I can’t wait to read your book too!

Photo: Awesome festive fun at the SCBWI Christmas party, hosted by the 3 wise writers :-)


About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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