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Indie Author Interview - Stuart Reid, writer of the Gorgeous George series


Stuart Reid is the Author of the Gorgeous George series amongst others!


Stuart Reid is one of the busiest children’s authors in Britain today, performing at over 2,000 schools, libraries and book festivals throughout the UK, 
 Ireland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, India and three times at the Adelaide Fringe festival in the last ten years.

He has also hosted over 250 book events at the Edinburgh Fringe, where he worked with BBC Learning, and has featured on ITV’s Get Britain Reading, on radio and countless newspapers and magazines.

 

Have you ever written a story from a dream?

My first book Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric Generator was based upon a dream I had when I was 18! I dreamt about a giant factory filled with old people who’d been duct-taped to exercise bikes and pedalling furiously to generate electricity, like pensioner pedal power. 25 years later, and my first book was published, and my mate John still remembers me telling him about that dream 37 years ago.


Do you base characters on people you know?

My main character George is based upon a mixture of me as a kid and lots of friends.


George’s best friend is a lad called Crayon Kenny based upon a boy I went to school with called David. David went to hospital four times in one school year because he was forever sticking crayons up his nose!


And as I grow older I am turning more and more into Grandpa Jock. I’ve even had a tattoo done of the mad old Scotsman farting on my arm.


What is your favourite character of another author?

I love Jack Reacher from the Lee Child books … no messing, no fuss, no nonsense! I also like Sherlock Holmes.


Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage or travelled far specifically for a book/author event?

I am fortunate to have performed in almost 3,000 schools, libraries and book festivals around the UK, Ireland, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India, Hong Kong, Spain and Australia. My longest trip has been the three years that I performed at the Adelaide Fringe.


Have you ever cried at a book?

My eldest daughter recommended that I read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Couldn’t put it down and blubber like a baby at the end.


Do you prefer fiction, non-fiction or both?

Bit of both, really. I am currently reading Fairy Tale by Stephen King but the last book I finished was all about the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.


If you could cast your book for a film, who would play the parts?

George would need to be played by a young Rupert Grint.

The Crayon Kenny character would be a flaming red-headed 10-year-old Adrian Edmonson.

Allison’s character demands a young Kiera Knightley, whilst Grandpa Jock would have to be played by Robert Carlisle, although more humorous and slightly less Begbie from Trainspotting.


What is the most unethical practice in the publishing/distribution industry?

Sale or return! And the paltry payments made to authors by Amazon and print-to-order firms.

Originally, my first three books were published by a small Yorkshire publisher, and my remittance was pathetic - 25p from every book sold in a book shop, and £2.80 for every book I sold myself at a live performance. Then they asked me for £23k (yes, twenty three thousand pounds!) to launch my 4th book!

With the help of the Society of Authors legal team, I terminated my contract with said publisher, all the rights reverted back to me, and I have proudly self-published my books since 2014.

I have been a full-time author for 11 years, and that publisher went out of business the year after I left them!


Have you ever met your writing hero? If so, what were they like?

I saw Jonathan Meres (World According to Norm) at my first Wigtown Book Festival but I was too nervous to speak to him.

The following year I performed on the big stage at Wigtown with another hero Philip Ardagh, then in 2019, I opened the Wigtown Book Festival in the main marquee with 200 pupils, teachers and parents, whilst I pumped out ACDC’s Thunderstruck at full volume, as my live events are called Reading Rocks!

Philip, Jonathan and I are now proper friends in real life :D


How do you feel when you start a book, in the middle, and when you finish?

Buzzing, bursting and bricking it!


What was the first thing you learnt as an indie author that has never failed you?

I’m in control! I write what I want, when I want and go wherever the journey takes me.


12. Do you think a big ego is a hindrance or a help?

I wouldn’t really know because I am the shy wall-flower type but I was telling the TalkSport presenters Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs when I launched my 8th book Grandpa Jock and the Incredible Iron-Bru-Man Incident, on air live to their three million listeners, that I reckon that I am at least in the Top 10% of earning authors in the UK, possibly even Top 5. At the time, a survey by the Society of Authors stated that the average earnings of an author were £11k per annum (it’s now gone down to £7k during the pandemic) and that 90% of authors earn less that £30k per year. And I know what I earn. I’m not in the JK Rowling bracket but I’m doing okay. Once, during a school visit Q&A, a kid asked me what my net worth was, and I thought ‘I wonder what my net worth actually is?’ so I googled myself and discovered that I am worth between $7 and $10million but don’t believe everything you read online. Not even sure if that answered your question but a senior librarian once said I was ‘the most exciting, enthusiastic, entertaining author she’d ever met’ and you should believe her! :) And I’ve performed at the Edinburgh Festival over 300 times, and one of the dads in the audience called me ‘BILLY CONNOLLY FOR KIDS!’ I am certainly not worthy of such praise but I’ll take it.


Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Yes, during my first book, and I overcame it by having a discussion with my children (aged 8 and 3 at the time) with a sock puppet on my hand. I began telling my girls what my story was about, and how I was stuck, and I asked Sock Puppet for his help. My girls quickly stopped talking to me and began discussing my book with Sock Puppet, and suddenly it was if all the doors to the end of my book began opening one after another. Mesmeric!


Do you try more to be original or pander to readers’ wants?

Having presented to almost half a million children throughout the world, and having laughed like a small boy since I was well, a small boy, I think I know what children like. And boogers and poo are universal!


Can you name a famous author whose work you really don’t like?

May Man Cheong* strike me down but I really don’t like JRR Tolkien’s stuff. I have never been able to finish The Hobbit, or any of the Lord of the Rings books, and I always fall asleep just trying to watch the movies. Not completed one yet. *Man Cheong is the Chinese God of Literature, and you must never, ever disrespect him! I was hosting a series of school visits in Hong Kong, 10 schools in two weeks, and I had a couple of days free at the beginning. My eldest daughter and I went to visit the Man Mo Temple there (Mo is the God of Martial Arts), and as I was leaving I threw some coins into the collection box. Afterwards I realised that I had just donated 18p to the God of Literature and his kick-boxing buddy.

The following week, the first five school visits were excellent, then at lunchtime on the first Wednesday the Hong Kong government announced that due a ‘flu epidemic on the island all primary schools would close for one week starting Friday. FIVE school visits cancelled and I was stuck in my hotel room with 600 unsold books!!

Man Cheong had sent his psycho mate Mo Tai to kick my butt for disrespecting him! So I fought back and kicked off online, and my plight was published in the HK Free Press, the South Chine Morning Post and Oriental Daily News. I was also interviewed for 30 minutes on Hong Kong Radio 3, and I was invited to two book shops and my events were filmed by a local High School as part of the primary school pupils homework during their enforced, additional holiday, and viewed by over 20,000 pupils! The following week, I left Hong Kong with only 12 books remaining. As I mentioned earlier, take control.

What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

As I mentioned before, Philip Ardagh and Jonathan Meres are good buddies, and I have lots of friends at Indie Authors Worldwide based near Glasgow. They all really helped me out when I booted my old publisher into touch, and set out on my own self-publishing journey.


Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

My books all feature the same bunch of characters but they all occasionally take the lead in different stories.

Each book is stand-alone, they’re not meant to be read in order (apart from Unidentified Unsinkable Underpants Parts 1 and 2). They are all connected by the main characters and their out-of-this-world adventures in the home town of Little Pumpington.


When did you know you were going to be a writer?

When I was four!

I went to school, and the teacher handed me a pencil and said ‘Write your name’ and I wrote S - T - U - A - R - T and I thought “Woo-hoo! I’m a writer!” and I’ve been doing it ever since.

 

About Stuart's work


In 2017, Stuart received congratulations for his work with the First Minister's Reading Challenge and was also nominated for the Scottish Book Trust’s Significant Contribution to Children's Literature 2017 Award.

Fantastic. Well done.Nicola Sturgeon

In April 2019, Stuart’s 7th book Gorgeous George and the Timewarp Trouser Trumpets claimed the silver medal at the Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

Stuart’s 8th book Grandpa Jock and the Incredible Iron-Bru-Man Incident was launched live on the Hawksbee and Jacobs Show on TalkSPORT radio in July 2019 and has been short-listed for the Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

His book events are designed to engage & inspire children, especially boys 
 and reluctant readers, to want to love reading, and Stuart’s largest live 
 audience was 800 pupils aged between 5 and 11 years old.

"Stuart Reid is a force of nature! Engaging, educational and extremely enter- taining, Stuart is a master of his craft. We had a wonderful time at the Belfast Book Festival and would welcome him back in a heart beat!” Keith Acheson - Director, Belfast Book Festival

In 2012, Stuart’s debut novel Gorgeous George and the Giant Geriatric 
 Generator, was chosen as Silver Seal winner at the Forward National 
 Literature Awards in America and the ‘Top Pick’ in the Daily Record’s Book Club. In 2015, Stuart was presented with the Enterprise in Education 
 Champion Award by Falkirk Council.

"Simply the best author performance I have EVER seen in 15 years of teaching. The best... by a long mile." ! Mr Mashiter, deputy headteacher, St Mary's Primary School, Blackburn. Stuart’s presentations are enthusiastic and inspirational; engaging pupils with audience participation, fun and energy. 


Recent feedback from a principal teacher includes 'Thank you very much for a fabulous, funny, fantastic, full of enthusiasm, fanfare of a presentation! 
 I have never witnessed such a good author presentation before - you had the children eating out of your hands for the whole time - brilliant!' 


More testimonies are available upon request.

Prior to becoming an author, Stuart was the general manager of Premier Inn’s first international hotel in Dubai. He lived there with his family for two years before he decided to give up that ‘lifestyle’ to write books.

Review - 'Unmissable...this wickedly funny debut, from a Scottish writer who is on course to be a star of the future.’ Daily Record

Stuart’s books are written to encourage children, especially boys and 
reluctant readers to want to read more often. They are yucky, funny, 
 imaginative and exciting enough to engage even the most reluctant of 
readers, yet with a stretching vocabulary that suits more developed children. His presentations focus on the joys of reading and how brilliant books can be, as well as recycling, alternative energy and even career advice.

He draws from 25 years experience as a 
regional manager in the hospitality industry both in the UK and in the Middle East. 
 
 As a former general manager of a 300 bedroom hotel in Dubai, Stuart was fortunate to write a 2,000 word blog every week 
talking about life in the UAE. This page 
received 20,000 hits per month and was the most viewed on the company website.


Find Stuart's work on Amazon!

 

If you're an author and would like to get an interview posted, head over to the website!

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