return to ribblestrop

Return to Ribblestrop

return to ribblestrop

Winner of the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize

'Return to Ribblestrop' is the second novel in the 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,' says Andy, 'but there's no actual magic – don't look for unicorns.

'It's magical because the children are self-sufficient, and in the absence of imposed disciplines, they 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 had firm ideas on that score. 'Return' is as dangerous as the first one, and my favourite character arrives: this is Miles, who’s horribly destructive and unhappy. His journey still brings tears to my eyes.’

Was it easy to write?

'Not at all. The problem with multiple, strong-characters is that they’re all strong enough to demand their own sub-plots. It is a lovely business: you dream up a character, and then it takes on its own life, and starts to rebel. I turn my back, and someone's in the lake again, risking his life. Miles gets hold of a gun, and loads it. Ruskin's brother has arrived – a strange squib of a child with a dazzling intellect...the stories get more complicated at every turn..

'There's more football, for example - but the Ribblestrop side is dangerously weakened by the late-return of Sanchez. He’s stuck in South America. The vile policeman is out there still, with more disgraceful plans. He's hitched up with a very dubious defrocked Irish priest, and I hate to use the cliché of a roller-coaster…but it's a roller-coaster.'

RETURN TO RIBBLESTROP is published by Simon and Schuster, and is available at all good bookshops, or through the usual on-line stores.