WARNING: This book will seriously damage your funny bone. The poorest boy in school has just inherited £1 million. But there is a catch: If he can hold on to his cash for a whole year he will earn ten times that amount. Enter Felicity MacKenzie, the ugliest, sweatiest, vilest, cruelest, hairiest mother in the western world. When she steals her son’s money and goes on the spending spree to end all spending sprees it seems that Johnny Nothing will stay poor forever. However, Johnny has a plan – he will imprison his parents and force them to do homework and go to bed early as punishment. Join Johnny Nothing, Bill and Ben the bouncer men, Ebenezer Dark and a cast of literally dozens in (probably) the funniest book you will (most likely) ever read in (some of) your lifetime. Learn why solicitors like handbags; why dead people are windier than the North Sea; why parents dislike electrocution; and what happens to you after you die. Johnny Nothing: Book 01 in a series of less than two from best-selling author Ian Probert.
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
It was a gradual thing. I always wrote very long stories that must have bored the teacher like crazy when I was at school. Then when I was at art college I began keeping a daily diary. This progressed to articles for magazines. Then I became a sports and music journalist. It was all an an accident really. I never intended to write.
1. Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Really, really poor. I went to a pretty rough comprehensive in Bristol. From there I went to art college in Bath and Exeter and studied painting. I have no formal writing qualifications. Not that they’re worth very much in my opinion.
2. Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
I obviously had a lot of rejections. Everybody does unless you’re a celebrity footballer or Oxbridge educated. Then in the mid-nineties I edited a couple of Terry Deary’s books. I ended up doing an awful lot of rewriting and decided that it might not be such a bad idea to have my own name along the spine. So I pitched some ideas to a publisher and thankfully they liked them.
3. Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
I’m discouraged almost every day. I’m a curious mixture of absolute self-belief and utter lack of self-confidence. I don’t think I ever really deal with it if I’m honest.
4. Deirdra: What books have most influenced your life?
As a child it was probably the first Narnia book, which I still re-read from time to time. Mind you, the others are desperately boring! As an adult I had a bit of an obsession with Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, which is a brilliant, colossal book. I also admire The Music Of Chance by Paul Auster.
5. Deirdra: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
I suppose I’ve met a few idols from my youth. I’ve sat at the same dinner table as Muhammad Ali, for example, one of the greatest icons of the 20th century.
6. Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
I take my daughter to school and then work from about 10.00-2.00. I have a strange method of writing, which is to try to read the entire book as it stands so far before continuing with the writing. It means that every day I’m working I do less and less writing.
7. Deirdra: What do you do to relax and unwind?
I play guitar and clarinet. Although rarely at the same time.
8. Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book, Johnny Nothing?
It’s about a young boy who inherits £1 million from a crooked uncle with the proviso that if he can hold on to the money for a year he will inherit ten times that amount. Problem is, his mother’s an absolute monster and ends up stealing the money from him. It’s a comedy with a moral message. Which I’m not going to tell you because it will really ruin the story.
9. Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
More than anything else I want them to laugh. For me it’s the most powerful reaction in the universe. I can’t describe what it’s like when you see someone reading something of yours and they laugh out loud. It’s amazing.
10. Deirdra: What are you working on now?
I’m working on another kids book provisionally entitled ‘Dan’s Dead’. The book starts out with the main character discovering that he’s now a ghost. He’s been run over by a corrupt lord and must try to save someone’s life. Even though he’s dead.
11.Deirdra: What is the best complement you could receive from a reader?
Well the other day another writer told me that his heart sank when he read an article I’d just written! He told me he’d just finished something that he thought was good and saw mine and his heart sank. I don’t know if he’s just being polite but it’s a pretty cool compliment.