Steve Cole, author of Astrosaurs,Cows in Action, and the upcoming Young Bond books, had guests in stitches last night as he chatted about his work. Steve’s event, held at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Geoffrey Manton building. focused on his newest books, Aliens Stink! and Secret Agent Mummy.
Before talking about his books, Steve broke the ice by sharing some funny stories from his daily life with the audience, who couldn’t stop laughing as he talked about hating salad and being forced to eat it by a “fearsome” dinner lady in primary school. He told children that he used to think of creative ways to get out of eating lettuce, such as claiming that it had been bitten by a vampire. Similarly, when writing, Steve said that you can always, “Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary.”
Aliens Stink!, Steve’s latest sci-fi book, follows Tim Gooseheart, a nervous, unconfident boy who somehow gets himself tangled up in a mission to save Earth, helped by an alien named Little G. Oddly enough, Steve’s event took place on World UFO Day 2014. Coincidence or not? You decide…
Steve Cole chatted animatedly to children and parents. He explained where the idea for Aliens Stink! came from. Steve described how he once panicked when he lost a bag at the airport, imagining all kinds of wacky things happening when he got it back, including finding a green alien inside! He told the audience, “If you’re worried or anxious about something – make up a silly poem or a story about it.”
Steve wrote some lyrics for Alien Stink!, which he performed for us on a ukulele. The song was eccentric and made everyone laugh even more. Steve told us that he had originally written a song at age eleven called Alien Stink!, which was where the title came from.
Secret Agent Mummy is a very different kind of book to Alien Stink! It was inspired by Steve’s love of all things Egyptian. “I love the whole Egyptian thing,” said Steve, “Their way of life makes for an interesting story in itself.” In Secret Agent Mummy, a character called Niall meets a mummy detective from 7BC. Steve read a section of Secret Agent Mummy to the audience, complete with hilarious facial expressions and quirky voices for different characters. The children loved it, laughing and shrieking as Steve read. A boy in the audience even called out (between giggles), “You’re so funny!”
Everyone was given a chance to ask Steve questions before the book signing. Someone asked, “When did you have the idea to become a writer?”
“I always wrote stories,” Steve replied. “When you’re younger, you get in trouble for writing stories. As an adult you get money for it!” He laughed before continuing, “But I didn’t think it was a realistic career so I became an editor instead. I wrote in my own time and eventually I put my work out there.”
One boy wanted to know, “What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?”
“The question should be when did the un-embarrassing things happen,” joked Steve. “Actually, I think it was when I went to an event at a girls school. I realized that I had my fly undone. The students started to notice and eventually the teachers. They were all whispering to one another. I think the gales of laughter blew me out of the door!”
At the end of the event, Aaron, age 10, told me that the best part was “the song Alien Stink!”
This event was brought to you in association with IHSSR: The Institute for Humanities and Social Science Research at Manchester Metropolitan University.