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.