Hi Ian! You grew up in Leeds, right?
That’s right. Until I was seven, I lived in Chapeltown on Francis Street and then we moved up to Chapel Allerton and lived on Gledhow Valley Road. I went to Chapeltown Primary School and then Roundhay School after that. Another local author, Abi Silver’s father taught English at Roundhay, which was a bit
awkward as he was my cousin. I loved growing up in Leeds. Times were very different then, of course, this was in the 1950s. I’ve always thought it was advantageous that times were quite hard because we learnt to make do and mend.
You’ve had a diverse career, how did you get into writing children’s fiction?
I’ve had a varied career; I started a number of technology enterprises with my business partner who was a professor of Physics. Some of them were successful, and some not so much. We gradually sold them off. Then in 2016 I got my PhD in Archaeology from the University of York, although my field of study is ancient coinage. Having fulfilled that ambition, I looked around for something else to fill my time and decided that I’d have a bash at writing some stories for my grandchildren.
You write your books under a pseudonym. Why is that?
I use my two middle names for writing fiction because I’ve written quite a number of books on coinage under my actual name. I wanted to keep the two separate.
Tell us about the new book!
It’s a humerous piece really centred around the relationship between the main character, a young lad by the name of Mazik, and his grandfather, who could be said to bear a passing resemblance to me in some respects. The grandfather is a fairly gruff Yorkshireman. He has a heart of gold underneath it though. Mazik gets into all sorts of trouble, mainly because he’s been on a space flight with an alien and was infected with lots of magical qualities. The source of these powers is called Yorke Barnsley, and the little boy is called Mazik Spark like the Jewish writer Dame Muriel Spark. I wanted to throw some little references in to both Yorkshire and Jewish culture. Mazik’s little dog is called Chepi, which if you know your Yiddish, means someone who’s always niggling away for attention.
What is it that you want children to take away from this book?
I think mainly a sense of adventure and the knowledge that life is fun. And the idea that relationships are very important. The books are also about sibling rivalry. At the start Mazik’s older brother is very successful in all sorts of ways, and Mazik is quite envious of him and thinks that he’ll never be able to compare, and eventually he does. It’s all about Mazik’s character developing throughout the story.
All profits made by the book will be generously donated to Blood Cancer UK.
Tell us why you chose to do this.
It’s a cause I care a lot about. People with blood cancer get very little immunity from the COVID-19 vaccination and so they remain vulnerable and still have to shield. I want to put the money towards improving that situation and donating it to Blood Cancer UK is the best way to do that.
To learn more and buy your copy, visit Mazikspark.com