Award-winning author of the Pet Defender and Dragon Detective Agency series Gareth P Jones joined us at Barnes for a silly and hilarious song-filled event. He talks to Bethany Park about his love of detective writing, his Pet Defender series and how to detect an alien.
What is your favourite of the books you have written?
For older readers, Death or Ice Cream is definitely my favourite. But for the younger readers, I would definitely choose Beards from Outer Space.
Do you have a favourite character?
A character from my first books, which were about a dragon called Dirk. Your first books and characters are always going to hold a special place in your heart!
What inspired you to write children’s detective and alien novels?
I have always liked making stuff up, and I have always liked using my imagination. With most jobs it is not that good to be somebody who doesn’t necessarily tell the truth… so, I am better at this job than the other jobs I have previously done! With the alien genre, I think reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was probably my biggest influence. And with detective novels, well, I have always had a huge love of that genre. I used to make TV shows about detective writers.
Can you give us three ways to detect an alien, and if we were to catch one, how we can eliminate it?
Firstly, aliens can’t tell jokes. They don’t have the same sense of humour, you see, so you could ask them to tell a joke – that is probably the easiest way. Secondly, the smell will help you detect an alien. They have quite a distinctive smell, but you might need a dog to sniff out whether it is an alien or not. And finally, squirt shaving cream at them because that could kill them!
How did you come up with such unique ideas for the Pet Defenders books?
I am actually allergic to dogs and cats so that did make the books particularly difficult to write. But I like the idea of something happening that we can’t see. We have this idea that our pets are sitting around not doing anything, but in fact they’re doing things that are much more extraordinary.