Return to Ribblestrop
Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize
‘Return to Ribblestrop' is out, and attracting enthusiastic reviews.
'Return to Ribblestrop' is the second novel in a projected trilogy. The books were conceived as three separate school-terms, in which a well-meaning but hapless headmaster fails to control the increasingly bizarre activities of pupils and staff. 'It's a magical place. It’s not Hogwarts - any elf would be stamped on and barbecued very quickly. It's magical because the children are self-sufficient, and in the absence of imposed disciplines, create their own. I like to think the books are funny, violent, exciting and surprising. I hoped they'd be sexy too, but my editor has firm ideas on that score. 'Return' is as dangerous as the first book and Miles definitely brings a violent, unsettling edge...but believe me, things move towards proper resolution. I'm not killing any characters yet!'
'People ask me if 'Trash' was harder than the Ribblestrop books, because it's more serious. The answer is no: Ribblestrop was always a much tougher proposition. There are more characters, and they're all strong enough to demand their own sub-plots and lines. It is a lovely business: you dream up a character, and then it takes on at least a bit of its own life, and starts to rebel. I turn my back, and Anjoli’s in the lake again, risking his life. As for Miles – will he leave that gun alone? Ruskin’s brother has arrived – a strange squib of a child with a dazzling intellect. There’s more football, but the Ribblestrop side is dangerously weakened by the late return of Sanchez – stuck in South America. Inspector Cuthbertson is out there, with more disgraceful plans. He’s hitched up with a very dubious defrocked priest. And, as I say, there’s Miles…a blitz of a boy who could lead the school, or himself, to total destruction.'