I had the fantastic opportunity to host a Q&A with Daniel Henshaw, author of The Great Snail Robbery. Thank you so much Daniel for answering my questions!
Now for the Q&A!
Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
A1. My name is Daniel Henshaw and I am the author of The Great Snail Robbery with Jeremy Green as its protagonist. I live in a beautiful part of the Midlands, where I work as a PE teacher in a primary school and write in my spare time. In 2016, one of my unpublished stories was shortlisted for the Children’s Novel Prize at the Wells’ Festival of Literature. Until recently I played football but my body had told me to stop… so now I’ve taken up Tae Kwon Do. I cannot do the splits and have a strange fear of being kicked in the head by horses, but I can tell you every movie that won the Best Picture Oscar since 1960.
Q2. The Great Snail Robbery is a children’s book – is there a particularly reason why you were attracted to writing this genre?
A2. When I first started writing, I tried my hand at many different genres. In fact, the first short stories I wrote were especially dark, inspired by the likes of Roald Dahl’s ‘Tales of the Unexpected’. But it quickly became clear that I felt most comfortable writing for children. I’ve worked in schools for about seven years and I have an understanding of how children think and feel. I get their sense of humour… maybe I’ve just not grown up yet!
Q3. What’s been the best thing about publishing a book?
A3. People’s reactions to The Great Snail Robbery have been fantastic. Parents have sent messages, telling me how much their kids loved the book and how they’ve been constantly wanting to read it. That makes me feel amazing because I’m a great advocate of children reading for pleasure. When I hear that they’d rather read my book than watch TV, I feel like a superhero. It’s also been lovely to hear children telling me their favourite parts of the book, their favourite lines, their favourite characters. In fact, I left a tiny joke in The Great Snail Robbery, wondering if any kids would get it, and one boy told me that line was the funniest thing he’d ever read.
Q4. What’s one thing you would have liked to have known when you first started writing?
A4. I’m not sure really. Writing is a constant learning process. You need to write, make mistakes, learn, start again. That’s the only way you can improve. Before I published The Great Snail Robbery, I’d already written four novels of a similar size and if I hadn’t gone through the process of writing them and learning, I wouldn’t have improved. I’m excited by the idea that my best writing is still ahead of me. If there were things I’d love to know right now, they would be more related to the marketing side of the business. I’d love to how to say ‘BUY MY BOOK’ without annoying everyone on Twitter or spending a fortune on advertising. Ask me again in a couple of year and I may have discovered some of these secrets.
Q5. How did you get into reading/writing in the first place?
A5. Having studied English at university, I’ve always loved reading. There’s really nothing better than getting lost in a good book, the way that those tiny words on a page can create thousands of images in your head. It’s pure magic. And although I did some (extremely terrible) writing at university as part of the creative module, I didn’t start writing properly until I’d been teaching for a couple of years. Before I started teaching PE, I was a class teacher and used to read books with the children all the time. I particularly remember reading The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog by Jeremy Strong with my my Year 4 class. After seeing the kids laughing their heads off at the story, I thought, “I want to write this stuff!” and I started shortly after that. So, thanks Jeremy Strong!
Q6. If you could choose one book that would be compulsory for everyone in the world to read, what would you choose and why?
A6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Although Wilde states in the preface that ‘there is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book’, I would say there is a clear moral in this tale. Dorian Gray is given the freedom to pursue debauched activities, knowing his beautiful appearance won’t change. Reading this as a fresh-faced twenty-year-old, I remember thinking that this would’ve been brilliant, to go around doing whatever hedonistic deed I liked, with no consequences. But (spoiler alert) as the book progresses, it becomes clear that, in the end, everything catches up with you eventually, so you’re better off just being a good person. I think that’s something everyone should adhere to.
Q7. Is there anything you’d like to achieve by the end of the year?
A7. Other than being a New York Times bestseller, I would like to have written (or mostly written) two more books about Jeremy Green and his friends so that they will be ready for publication next year.
Q8. Where would you most like to travel in the world?
A8. I spent 7 months travelling a few years ago and there are definitely some places I’d love to go back to (Thailand, Laos and the rest of South East Asia). I also loved Buenos Aires in Argentina but had practically run out of money by this point and had to come home. Ideally, I’d love to travel around the rest of South America (Bolivia, Peru, Chile) to test out my rusty A-Level Spanish. I’ve never been to Iceland but it’s always somewhere I’ve wanted to visit. And a road trip across the USA has always appealed to me. So, to answer your question…. Everywhere!
Q9. Do you have any future writing plans which you could share with us?
A9. For the time being, I am continuing to write stories about Jeremy Green and his friends who feature in ‘The Great Snail Robbery’. The sequel to this is called ‘The Curious Case of the Missing Orangutan’ and will be available on Amazon in November.
Again, thank you so much Daniel for this Q&A! All the links to relevant pages will be below!