Steve Cole, Friday 14th September, 1:30pm, MMU Business School
Here at MMU’s new Business School, aka The Mothership, the MCBF has continued its author school visits in collaboration with Manchester Libraries, by bringing back the ever popular, Steve Cole, here to talk to us about his new book, Z-Apocalypse.
A professional in rousing a racket from any young school kid, Debra Conroy from Manchester Libraries gets us all warmed up by bellowing a welcome for the eager author. As soon as Steve comes bouncing into the room, I’m instantly thrown back to the first time I met him during his talk at the MCBF Family Fun Day.
Launching into a political topic of the recommended five-a-day, Steve admits he doesn’t actually condemn fruit, he just finds some to be utterly pointless. Kiwis, for example, are basically grapes dressed in bulletproof vests. Pacing lively from one side of the lecture theatre to the other isn’t the only way Steve is able to maintain the attention of these excited children. He keeps us all hooked as he explains that, as a writer, his job is to ‘chuck imagination at words’, giving us examples by bringing two of his own creations: DRACUCUMBER and WARENANA (can you guess what he combined?).
Brief side note here. A girl is sat in front of me scribbling away in a notebook, just like me, taking notes of Steve’s most interesting tips and anecdotes, just like me. I bet she’s either out to get my job, or just very keen on getting some excellent pointers. I did ask, and fortunately (for me), she is a big fan and is taking personal notes.
We return to words and imagination with Steve telling us the origin of the name ‘dinosaur’ – ‘dino’ meaning ‘terrible’ in Ancient Greek and ‘saur’ meaning ‘lizard’. His mind played with the notion that dinosaurs became extinct with a collision of an asteroid from outer space, and he began to wonder what would have happened if they had been able to escape, possibly in a spaceship, before the asteroid collided with planet earth. He put together the word ‘astro’ meaning ‘star’ and ‘saur’, turning them into star lizards, aka Astrosaurs. A simple bend in common sense and you have some best-selling children’s stories. He lets us further into his mind by sharing where the idea of creating the character of his very first Astrosaur book, Z-Rex, came from; already aware of the big, bad T-Rex, he continued the evolution from ‘T’ (tyrant) through to ‘Z’ (zenith) making him into nastiest of all Rexes. Author’s secrets don’t half boggle your mind!
When the Q&As begin, the lecture theatre is filled with fists punching the air. One kid asks how old he was when he wrote his first book. Steve fumbles around for that long-ago date and remembers it was at the age of twenty-five. He then lets slip (probably on purpose) that his birthday was only last week. Starting from the back, a raucous ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU’ is sung at a deafening volume. Seriously, throbbing eardrums.
After numerous intervals of excited chanting, feet stomping and desk pounding, Steve Cole has proved to be popular with the school children, as well as all the adults in here too. Keep your eyes out for his new book, Magic Ink, coming out next year.