The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature kicked off its 14th year at a brand-new location in Al Habtoor City. The highlights include the return of children's author and comedian David Walliams to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of his most iconic characters with a sequel -Gangsta Granny Strikes Again!. and his brilliant new book Megamonster
David Walliams OBE, began writing children's novels in 2008 after securing a contract with the publisher HarperCollins. He’s sold more than 40 million copies to date and his work has been translated into some 55 languages, and he has been described as "the fastest-growing children's author in the UK", with a literary style compared to that of Roald Dahl. Some of his books have been adapted into television films, which he has also appeared in, such as Mr Stink (2012), Gangsta Granny (2013) and Billionaire Boy (2016).
Walliams is best known for his work with Matt Lucas on the BBC sketch comedy series Rock Profile, Little Britain, and Come Fly With Me. Since 2012, Walliams has been a judge on the television talent show competition Britain's Got Talent on ITV. He has won the award for Best TV Judge for his work on Britain's Got Talent at the 2015, 2018 and the 2020 National Television Awards.
What inspired Gangsta Granny? When I was a child, I would spend lots of time with my grandmas. Selfishly, I thought spending time was boring, but when they talked about living in London during World War II they would become very animated and I would be enthralled. That’s then I realized that everyone has a story to tell.
Are there any features of their characters in Gangsta Granny? There was always a smell of cabbages in one of my grandmas’ houses. The other often broke wind like a duck quacking when she walked across the room.
When did you decide to write children’s fiction and what encouraged you? Ten years ago, I had an idea for a story. What if a boy went to school dressed as a girl? I thought it would be a thought-provoking children’s book. That became The Boy in the Dress, the first of my eight children’s novels.
What are the joys of writing children’s fiction? You can take children on magical journeys that are only unrestricted by their imagination
And the challenges of writing for children? Children love to be scared. Children love to laugh but it can’t be too rude.
You often talk about Roald Dahl. What makes him special to you? I think Dahl’s books always feel a little bit prohibitive, yet he manages to balances humour and horror perfectly.
Which is your favourite Roald Dahl books and why? The Twits is absolutely hysterical and I love that it is a children’s book with no child characters.
Which other children’s writers did you enjoy as a child and why? I loved Dr Seuss books as a child, especially ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. His books are like nightmares come to life. They are amusing, outlandish and entirely unique.
What do you think children enjoy your books? They like humour and that I don’t patronise them. Children are a lot smarter than most grown realise.
What can you tell us about your new book? My son, who’s eight, came up with the title! He kept on saying: “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a monster called a Megamonster that was made up of lots of different monsters?” I had this other idea about a girl hero who was fighting an evil teacher using homemade gadgets and blended these two ideas could go together.
The book is about a girl called Larker who is sent to the Cruel School, where badly behaved children are sent by teachers. There’s no way of getting out, it’s on a volcanic island surrounded by sharks and if you get sent there you are there for life! Larker discovers the students are being turned into monsters and she has to fight back using her wits.
Was it a lot of fun writing about a school that isn’t set in reality? I found it took longer because everything has to be different, I found it quite challenging. Everything had to be original, but I had fun creating it and it was very nice talking to my son about it and asking what he thought.
What does your son think about your latest book? He was super-excited that the book stems from his idea, so it was a labour of love.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature is an international literature festival held annually in the United Arab Emirates. The festival is held under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the auspices of the Emirates Literature Foundation and is run by Ahlam Bolooki. The festival's offices are located within the Dubai International Writers' Centre.
By: Delroy Constantine-Simms and Maureen Dracket-Fuller