Toby reading Rory Branagan

Intrepid interviewer Toby Ringland, age 7, delves into the detective life of Rory Branagan with author Andrew Clover

Toby: How did you have the idea for Rory Branagan – a boy who becomes a detective?

Rory: I got chicken pox when I was seven, and spent two glorious weeks reading The Secret Seven, and always wanted to write about a child who becomes a detective, but wanted the stories to be faster and funnier with real crimes and tough kids (not just posh Secret Seven kids who mainly drink lemonade in sheds).

Toby: Is he like a real person you know?

Rory: When I wrote it, he seemed so real, I really felt I knew him. Only afterwards did I remember my childhood best friend was a Dublin boy, who’d been adopted. He was amazing, but no one is exactly like Rory. I have some of his wild imagination and sense of FURY when things go wrong.

Toby: I would like to become a detective like Rory Branagan – would you like to be one or would you rather stay an author?

Rory: I passionately believe everyone would find life more exciting, if they were detectives. You must be curious, must find things out, must be BRAVE. I’d LOVE to be a proper detective, but also notice there is real detectiving all the time. I just tracked down an old school friend who’d disappeared.That was exciting. Plus you need to be a detective every time your mum says: ‘I can’t find my keys’. You need to work out where Mum came in the house, remembering how she tripped on a dog bowl…

Toby: The bit about unicorns in book two – The Dog Squad – made me laugh out loud.Your books are really funny! Have you always been funny?

Rory: I’ve always loved a laugh, and have learned more from being a comedian. I do loads of shows in schools. They are often wild, and I learn loads about what kids care about.

Toby: I love looking at pictures when I am reading a story – do you tell Ralph Lazar who draws the pictures what to draw, or does he give you ideas?

Rory: Yes, pictures make the books so much more welcoming. I also love Ralph, as well as his pictures, and when I’m writing, I’m always thinking of the things he loves to draw. He loves maps, and fantasy landscapes. Whenever I make Rory imagine a map, that’s like giving Ralph a treat.

Toby: I’ve read books one and two and can’t wait for the next one – when is it coming out?

Rory: Soon! 6th September. I just got my copy, and I think it’s the funniest, fastest yet.

Toby: I have only just started reading books by myself and your books make me want to read more – have you got any advice for people like me when they are choosing which books to read?

Rory: The great thing about reading is you MUST find what you like, yourself. You explore. It teaches you what you like, and what you write. I’m only just exploring detective books myself. I find Agatha Christie boring, but LOVE Raymond Chandler, and it teaches me I prefer a brave detective who gets into danger, rather than a clever one, who seems to be solving a maths puzzle…I love fun and fantasy! Perhaps you’re the same!