This is why I love Twitter: a few Fridays ago I tweeted that my #FridayReads was Sam Gayton's The Snow Merchant
which I was thoroughly enjoying and anticipated choosing for our boys bookclub. Entirely of his own volition, the lovely Mr Gayton responded that he would happily do a Twitter chat with the bookclub when we next met. That meeting was today!
First, I had the boys think about and write down the questions they wanted to ask about the book and the author's writing/reading habits. Then, with a slightly rocky start as frankly ten hyper youngsters crowding around does slightly impede ones ability to focus on tweeting, the conversation began. I only wish I could include all of the reactions of the boys to Sam's responses. (I've ordered the sequence below to make for easier reading)
Hi Sam! Are you ready to go? Lots of enthusiastic boys here!
SG: @ravenbooks READY, STEADY, TWEET
RB: @sam_gayton Q1 (ready or not!): Why did you write The Snow Merchant?
SG: @ravenbooks A: World Domination
RB: @sam_gayton Great answer! Lots of giggles :)
RB: @sam_gayton A comment: I don't think you should be tweeting an evil mastermind, it might be inappropriate!
SG: @ravenbooks but... but... won't you guys be my minions? I plan to take over the world in the next few years
SG: @ravenbooks Also, seriously, I was working late one wintry night and looked out my window and saw all this snow on my windowsill. I got that
SG: @ravenbooks crackly magic feeling you get when you look out at snow falling. And I looked at my windowsill and I thought, 'Who put that snow
SG: @ravenbooks there?' (It was late, I'd had lots of coffee, I wasn't thinking straight). And at once I thought of this Jack Frost type guy,the
SG: @ravenbooks Snow Merchant, who brings snow to all the towns of the world, and I had the start to my story
RB: @sam_gayton Excellent. #thepowerofhobnobs
SG: @ravenbooks Oh yes indeed. I'd had a whole packet. The ones with the chocolate top!
RB: @sam_gayton Q2: How did you come up with the name Lettie Peppercorn?
SG: @ravenbooks my friend @lotteallan moved to Finland (snowy place) while I was writing it, so Lotte sort of inspired Lettie.
SG: @ravenbooks and a Peppercorn rent is sort of something people pay as a token amount of money for somewhere
RB: @sam_gayton Q3: Is the published ending how you first wrote it?
SG: @ravenbooks yeah it is! I wrote that first time and changed barely anything. It was the middle where things got really crazily rewritten
RB: @sam_gayton Q4: Were the characters influenced by real people?
SG: @ravenbooks YES My Uncle's name is Pat McNulty (he doesn't have a beard though)
SG: @ravenbooks and I have two Nans... wonder if you can figure out who they are based on...
RB: @sam_gayton Q5: Who is your favourite author (other than yourself!)?
SG: @ravenbooks an American guy called Cormac McCarthy. He's a genius. Very dark and terrifying. Also, I like Ursula K le Guin, Terry Pratchett,
SG: @ravenbooks MT Anderson, Shaun Tan, Stephen King... I've said too many, haven't I? You said just one. Sorrrrrrrrry
RB: @sam_gayton Q6: What is your favourite book, and what was it when you were 9/10?
SG: @ravenbooks I think it was... Hmm... Either REDWALL by Brian Jacques, or THE IRON MAN by Ted Hughes, or beautiful stories of RAY BRADBURY
RB: @sam_gayton Ray Bradbury is new to them, some have read The Iron Man, and one has read a comic version of Redwall
SG: @ravenbooks Ray Bradbury is magic. MAGIC. His stories are like ghosts. They get inside your skull and haunt you for years
SG: @ravenbooks Try 'The Day It Rained Forever' or 'The Martian Chronicles' or 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'
RB: @sam_gayton Q7: What would you be if you weren't an author?
SG: @ravenbooks taxi driver
SG: @ravenbooks rock star
SG: @ravenbooks stage-fight choreographer
SG: @ravenbooks zombie apocalypse survivalist expert
RB: @sam_gayton "Zombie apocalypse??! That's not gonna happen!"
SG: @ravenbooks that's what the zombies want you to think
RB: @sam_gayton Q8: What is the greatest adventure you've ever been on?
SG: @ravenbooks I went to LARPS once. It's where you dress up as an elf and get a foam sword and run around a forest pretending you're in Mordor
RB: @sam_gayton "Can you hit someone?"
SG: @ravenbooks yeah but the swords are rubber. I got carried away though cos there was a special move where you yelled out CLEAVING BLOWWW and
SG: @ravenbooks then bring the sword down over your head and stun the enemy and I did it too hard and really hurt a goblin and we had to stop
SG: @ravenbooks it was very embarrassing all the orcs were shaking their heads at me
RB: @sam_gayton Q9: Who is your favourite character in The Snow Merchant and why?
SG: @ravenbooks I like Teresa the best and in fact I have just written another story about her, and how she turns a nasty Prince into a kitten
SG: @ravenbooks she's the best because she's strong and sure of herself and makes big choices that make crazy things happen in the story
RB: @sam_gayton Q10: Have you ever been to Dublin? Have you any plans to visit?
SG: @ravenbooks never been, no. I would love to visit. Can I sleep on the floor of Raven Books?
RB: @sam_gayton "we'll use fictional books for his pillow" (that's a yes!)
RB: @sam_gayton Q11: Do you prefer reading fictional or factional books?
SG: @ravenbooks FICTION ALL THE WAY, BABY
RB: @sam_gayton Q12: How long did it take you to write the book from first line to publication?
SG: @ravenbooks ~2 years in all. But I did have breaks in that time. It wasn't all just typing and hob nob eating
SG: @ravenbooks now can I ask you some questions?
RB: @sam_gayton okey-dokey!
SG: @ravenbooks Q1. Where do you think Noah ends up? Q2. If you were an alchemist, what would you turn your teacher/parents into? Q3. Ant or Dec
RB: @sam_gayton A1: In the ocean, with his gran
SG: @ravenbooks aww tragic
RB: @sam_gayton A2: A muffin, a goblin that runs into walls, a stick of dynamite, a dinosaur, someone that turns everything into sweets
RB: @sam_gayton A3: Dec. (most too young to know, bless)
RB: @sam_gayton Huge huge thanks from the boys
SG: @ravenbooks awesome, thanks it was great :-)
We're so grateful to Sam for generously sharing his time with us and heartily endorse The Snow Merchant
as a lively, fantastical, adventure-laden read.