Creative Corner – Alastair Swinnerton
Meet: Alastair Swinnerton
Alastair has been writing for children’s television for over twenty five years. Among his many credits are ‘The Wombles’, ‘Sabrina, Secrets of a Teenage Witch’, and the Bafta-nominated CBBC Christmas Special ‘The Tale of Jack Frost’, which he wrote, co-produced and co-directed. He was also one the co-creators of Lego® Bionicle®. ‘The Multiverse of Max Tovey’ is his first Young Adult novel.
Alastair lives in Somerset with his family, and spends much of his spare time walking the dog, more often than not at his beloved Ham Hill.
- Welcome, Alastair. Thanks for joining me here on Creative Corner. What should my readers know about you?
I’m a veteran animation scriptwriter who just had his first Young Adult novel published, ‘The Multiverse of Max Tovey’.
- What are the 3 words that best describe you?
Excessive Tea Drinker
- Tell us about your work.
What, all of it…?! Oh, right. So, the book is about a boy who can see the past all around him, or rather, he used to be able to, before they put him on the pills and therapy. Now he mostly doesn’t come out of his room, or off his laptop. The meds were mostly to deal with his PTSD, which seemed to stem from a recurring nightmare of fighting Romans and demons alongside his grandfather on an ancient Somerset Hill Fort – but he’d never been to Somerset, nor had he ever met his grandfather. But then he goes to his grandfather’s funeral, and discovers that the old boy was a time traveller, and so is he, and that the nightmare was a memory of a past that had been changed. Now he goes off on a wild ride through history, real and mythological, to find the legendary lost cross of Montacute that will close the gates of the Underworld and lift the time travelling curse from his family.
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
Well, I am quite proud of my involvement in Lego Bionicle, and of course ‘The Tale of Jack Frost’, a half hour CBBC Christmas special that got nominated for a Bafta, and then there was a Wombles script that the creator Elisabeth Beresford said was the best she’d ever read. But really it’s this book.
- What other creative endeavors do you enjoy?
I’m a writer – if I’m not actually writing I’m thinking about it. Doesn’t leave much time for anything else!
- What would people be most surprised to see on your Kindle or bookshelf?
If they’ve read this book, I doubt anything on my bookshelf would surprise them. Eclectic is probably the word.
- How about your playlist?
It has everything from Beethoven to the Beatles on there, via Led Zeppelin and Arctic Monkeys. Eclectic doesn’t even begin to describe it.
- I love music, and I’m always interested in the musical tastes of my friends. Tell me your 3 favorite songs.
Impossible! Depends on the mood of course. But #1 will always be Stairway To Heaven.
- What song best describes your life?
Depends how well it’s going at the time – anything from Katrina and the Waves’ ‘Walking On Sunshine’ to Nick Drake’s ‘Day Is Done’.
- In the story of your life, who would you like to play you?
It used to be John Gordon Sinclair when I was younger, but these days probably Paul Bettany.
The Glamorous, Dangerous Romance Section:
- You’re about to be teleported back in time to the days of castles and dragons. Please cast the following roles:
- King – Sid James
- Queen – Hattie Jaques
- Prince – Jim Dale
- Princess – Angela Douglas
- Court Jester – Terry Scott
- Alchemist – Frankie Howard
- Evil Nemesis – Kenneth Williams
- Dragon – Bernard Bresslaw
- What is the biggest danger facing the castle?
Dying of laughter
- How do you prevail over this danger?
- We’re off to the Cannes film festival. Who do we meet there?
Harvey Weinstein with a cheque with my name on it
- What do you wear on the red carpet?
A little off the shoulder Bill Gibb number (thank you Monty Python)
- You’re about to be sucked into a soap opera. The only thing you have control over is which one you land in. Which one is it?
‘Soap’. “Confused – you will be…”
- You’ve been invited to 2 different events, each taking place on the same day/time. Do you attend the star-studded charity event for a charity you don’t feel strongly about? Or a low-key gathering of a dozen people you find interesting and entertaining?
- You’ve been chosen to receive a custom wardrobe by the designer of your choice. Which designer is making it for you?
- People magazine is featuring you on next month’s cover. Why?
Because Harvey Weinstein just gave me a big cheque
- We have front row tickets to Fashion Week in NYC. Who are we sitting with?
I don’t know about you, but I’m in the bar next door
- Whose collection are you most looking forward to seeing?
Anyone who believes denim on denim is the look.
- You’re given to chance to star in either Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. Which movie do you choose?
Star Wars, definitely, preferably Episode 1 (see next answer)
- Which role do you play?
Jar Jar Binks’ assassin
- Who is starring in the movie with you?
No-one – I’m the star, darlink! *flicks his hair dismissively*
- Who is the person, living or dead, you would most like to spend a day with? Lennon, of course.
- Finish this sentence: In my next life, I’m coming back as a…
- Everyone’s running for President these days, so why not you? Tell me your campaign slogan.
“Free beer” (Ed. Note: Several people I know have already given Alastair their vote)
- If you were going to take a walk on the wild side, who would you want to be your guide?
Hunter S. Thompson – who else!
- Your house has been sucked into a tornado and transported to Oz. What’s the first thing you do when you land?
Find the nearest pub.
The Personal Touch:
- What are the major differences between writing for a TV series/show and writing a novel?
Writing for kids’ TV these days more often than not involves an ever-longer approval committee, and often with conflicting agendas. Writing a novel is just me, my publisher and my imagination. I still love writing animation, don’t get me wrong, but I know which I prefer.
- Which do you find most challenging? Why?
- What is it about writing for young people that appeals to you most?
They naturally suspend disbelief and cynicism.
- If you were going to spend a week in one of the TV series/shows you’ve written, which one would it be?
My series The Baskervilles, most definitely.
How much fun would a world be where you have to be bad to be good…?!
- What would be the script for this show?
‘Faust Times At Underworld High’, without doubt the most insane script I’ve ever been allowed to write.
- As a child, what was your favorite show to watch?
As a child, The Banana Splits, as a teenager, Tiswas, both completely bonkers.
- If the Multiverse of Max Tovey were turned into a TV series, how hands-on would you want to be in writing the scripts?
Very, but not as the writer, as script consultant with complete approval.
- What was it like having your child diagnosed with Dyspraxia?
Eye-opening, mostly because that was when I realized that that was me forty odd years earlier, and still is.
Reach Out & Touch Someone:
- Where can my readers get more information on you?
- What social media sites do you use? How can my readers follow you?
- Where can my readers purchase your work?
Thank you so much for joining me, Alastair! Best Wishes on all your future endeavors!!
My pleasure, and thank you.