In the lead up to Christmas 2014 we will publish a series of festive and inspirational posts written by the authors at The Madeleine Milburn Agency.
Dave Lowe’s children’s book MY HAMSTER IS A DETECTIVE came out on the 1st of October and marks the first in Dave Lowes’ humorous Stinky & Jinks series (UK: Templar)
If you haven’t read it, it’s about a boy, Huck, and a runaway slave, Jim, as they raft down the Mississippi, escaping their old lives, encountering people, and trouble, on the way. It’s very funny and also very sad; it’s kind of meandering but also exciting. And it says important things about morality, about love and friendship and revenge, and about what it means to be free.
What I loved most was Huck’s voice: not the usual standard-English narration of most other books I’d read: it was authentic, vibrant, a brilliant mix of innocent and wise.
Around the time I read it, I also started wearing a large Huck Finn-style straw hat. Wearing a large straw hat kind of draws attention to yourself, and not in a good way, when you live in the English West Midlands. I think that year I didn’t just want to write Huck Finn, I wanted to be him. There are a lot of waterways where I grew up, but you really wouldn’t want to raft down the canals of Dudley and Wolverhampton – you’d be constantly bumping into upturned shopping trolleys, for one.
The book affected me in other ways, not just the daft hat: it made me realise just what was possible in a children’s novel. Also, less impressively, I told close friends that, if I ever got a book published, I would – like my hero Mark Twain – get myself a white suit. Here is an apology to my 16 year-old self: I still haven’t got a white suit. In fact, I don’t own a suit of any colour. Also, I’m a pretty messy eater, and I tend to spill drinks more than is usual for an adult human. If I did have a white suit, it would probably spend most of its life at the dry cleaners.