Andy Briggs is officially rebooting Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy in time for the icon’s 100th birthday next year. The world’s first eco-warrior now returns as a 21st century legend for a new audience.
Andy started writing on movie projects such as “JUDGE DREDD” and “FREDDY VS JASON” and “FOREVERMAN” for Spiderman creator Stan Lee and legendary producer Robert Evans.
Andy went on to work with Gregory Novac and Bruce Timm on Warner Bros. “AQUAMAN” - while at the same time landing an eight-book deal with Oxford university Press for “HERO.COM” and “VILLAIN.NET”.
Hi Andy. Welcome to my blog, make yourself at home. Grab a cup of tea and a biscuit.
As long as there is some shortbread in there. I may make lots of crumbs...
So, how did you set about creating a new Tarzan adventure? What inspired you to do that?
For me, Tarzan invokes my childhood summers, bank holidays - and every other day I was off school. It was a chance to escape from Liverpool and journey into darkest Africa. Now, as an alleged adult, I was shocked to discover very little in the way of new Tarzan stories around. From my time doing school events I realized that children across the country are very aware of Tarzan - even if they have never seen a film or read a book - he is an iconic character. Sadly, the books and films are so old that the new generation tend to shy away from them so Tarzan was facing extinction. I saw an ideal opportunity to reinvent (or reboot, to use Hollywood parlance) the character.
Tell us a little about the books themselves.
I feel that Tarzan is more relevant now than he ever has been. He was the first eco-warrior in a time when nobody cared about the environment, and he does it in such a way that it doesn’t feel preachy.
My take on Tarzan was to modernize the story, set it now in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo - which is an ideal wild setting for the character, and allows an exciting canvas for modern jungle stories. Updating the characters was important - making Tarzan a darker more feral, unpredictable character and turning Jane into a modern tough girl who is a mental match for Tarzan’s untamed brawn.
Then is was a case of spinning a new exciting tale that felt like classic Tarzan, with plenty of links to the traditional story... while making it completely new and fresh...
You started off in film, I believe. How did you make the transition between that and novel writing?
I find it a great pleasure to swap between writing platforms. Writing movie scripts requires great discipline - you have to streamline characters, you can’t investigate internal conflicts, you have a limited page count (90-120 pages on average) to tell the entire story, whereas books allow you an almost endless canvas to tell the story and it’s extremely liberating to enter the heads of your characters and explore their inner most thoughts...
Which bookshop did you first spy your book in?
It’s always a huge thrill seeing your book on a shelf - and I think I saw it in WHSmiths... I was too excited to really note where I was!
You’re touring at the moment; how’s that going?
It’s exhausting! I perform an hour-long interactive presentation that ends in a very loud Tarzan survival quiz in which I get the group (usually whole year groups) to scream and shout. Usually my voice gives up during the book signings at the end.
I love touring, it’s the only chance writers really have to talk to their readers - find out what they like, what they are expecting, and equally important, what they don’t like. It’s all good research to improve the next book.
Which were your favourite childhood books?
I was a comic lover, so enjoyed Spiderman, X-Men and almost every other Marvel titles I could lay my hands on! I was also a role-playing geek (can you believe that?) and loved the Fighting Fantasy books! I read The Hobbit multiple times... and of course, Tarzan of the Apes!
Tell us about ‘Trapped by Monsters.’ Who are some of your favourite monsters in fiction/children’s books?
I blame Tommy Donbavand! It was his great idea to bring together a group of children’s authors to blog about anything we wanted. Not just each other’s books, that would be dull, but any other books, films - anything - that we were interested in. It now serves as a wonderful place were we can fire off our collective thoughts, meet new author friends and chat amongst ourselves as an authorly self-help group!
On my book forum we have a Book Tree, where members choose their favourite book and post it round to the other members. Whilst reading the books, everyone writes comments in them as they go. If you were to choose a book for the book tree, which would you pick and why?
Easy - Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”. It’s a wildly imaginative and totally original story that is endless fun no matter how many times you read it!
What are you working on at the moment?
If my editor is reading... the edits of TARZAN 2: THE JUNGLE WARRIOR, out next summer. I have also finished a new spec script that will go out to Hollywood studios later this year (it’s a family Christmas film!) and am working on... a secret project!
Now I’m heading off to finish your biscuits...
Exciting stuff! [the film etc, not the biscuits....]
You can buy Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy over on Amazon.