Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Author Visit: Nik Perring and Caroline Smailes

Pull up a chair, folks! The authors of the fabulous FREAKS! are here to talk to you about superheroes and standing out from the crowd (whether you want to stand out or not). Meet The Photocopier, a woman who can reproduce herself at will and who attempts to teach her daughter to do the same. Or the zombie hairdresser who is able to reanimate every time she dies. And the man who can break his way into his lover's dream.

The two lovely authors of this book are Caroline Smailes (author of 99 Reasons Why), and Nik Perring (author of Not So Perfect). Their book is a collection of flash fiction, each story about a person with one super power, and is dedicated 'to those who, if only for a moment, felt like they didn't belong.' It's a beautiful collection (there's a taster story at the bottom of this interview), and it's illustrated by Darren Craske.

All who reply to this post by 31st May will have their name put into a hat. The name pulled out of that hat will win a copy of FREAKS!

So, Caroline, Nik: what super power would you have wanted when:

1. You were a baby.

Caroline: I’d have liked to have stolen all the memories of my grandparents, just before they died, and kept them safe until I needed them. I wish I’d known who they were. 

Nik: I think I’d quite to have stayed a baby for a little longer. They were easier times.

2.You were at primary school.

Caroline: Freezing time. I was happy.

Nik: Shape-shifting. I would love to have been Luke Skywalker.

3. You were a teenager.

Caroline: Invisibility. Being able to fade into nothing, to stop the pain, to breathe on my own. 

Nik: I think the ability to think things through properly would have benefited a teenaged me. I might have made some more sensible decisions then. But, what can you do?

4. When you left school.

Caroline: Time travel. I fell in love with a foreign man and ran away to foreign lands when I was eighteen. I lived there for a year. I think I lost myself during that time. I think I would have benefitted from a trip into my future, to know just how it would work out. I think I’d have squealed with joy and disbelief.

Nik: Leaving school was a strange one for me. I left high school after my GCSEs and went to college which, a few months in, I took ‘early retirement’ from. So I think it’d be something like slowing down time and not rushing to grow into something, anything, that wasn’t me. Or perhaps the ability of heightened perception. See, then I’d have realised that I was never going to have a career as a musician because, really, I just wasn’t good enough.

Caroline - what superpowers do you think mothers wish they could have? [Though mums are superheroes anyway!]

Caroline: I’ve thought a lot about this one over the years (and during sleepless nights). Teleportation would have been nice, to nip to the shops and back without prams and nappy bags and what seemed like an almost military operation at that time. And there have been other moments when I’ve wished that I could freeze time, for silence and a cup of tea. And duplication would be nice; I’ve three children, so I’d like to be in three places at the same time. But, right now, if I’m completely honest, I’d like to slow time down just a little and treasure every single moment with them. They grow so quickly.

When you were a child, which book-world did you wish you could be part of? Which characters did you want to be best pals with?

Caroline: The worlds created by Roald Dahl appealed, they fitted with my wonky view. And Roald Dahl’s Matilda would have been my choice of companion, because I think we’d have been friends, best friends.

Nik: When I was very little it would have been Thumbelina or Rapunzel, or any fairy tale (this probably hasn’t changed all that much!). Later, I guess it’d have been anything to do with the Narnia books. I loved them.

If you could give your favourite literary character a super power, what would it be and why?

Caroline: I would give Mr Twit the ability to walk on ceilings, and possibly the ability to have facial hair that cleaned itself. And why? Because I feel he’d be rather nice, if he was loved and groomed and talked to in a stern voice.

Nik: Wow! Great question! Gawd, I’m not sure. I think the reason that certain literary characters are my favourites are because of their flaws or the sticky ends they come to, and I’m not sure I’d want to change that, if it came down to it. That said, I think Victor Frankenstein could have probably used a bit of empathy…

Wonderful answers. Thanks, guys! x


A sneak preview of FREAKS!


[Super Power: The ability to make oneself unseen to the naked eye]

If I stay totally still,
if I stand right tall,
with me back against the school wall,
close to the science room’s window,
with me feet together,
pointing straight,
aiming forward,
if I make me hands into tight fists,
make me arms dead straight,
if I push me arms into me sides,
if I squeeze me thighs,
stop me wee,
if me belly doesn’t shake,
if me boobs don’t wobble,
if I close me eyes tight,
so tight that it makes me whole face scrunch,
if I push me lips into me mouth,
if I make me teeth bite me lips together,
if I hardly breathe,
if I don’t say a word.
I’ll magic meself invisible,
and them lasses will leave me alone.



  1. I have a copy of this wonderful book already... so if I get picked, could it be given to the next poster below me?

  2. Ohh this resonates with me!
    I need to get a copy of this.

    I was smiling, tearing up, and nodding along with a lot of those answers.

  3. I would love a copy of the book and would gladly pay postage to Austria.

    1. Merc - this competition is open worldwide, so if you win we'll post to Austria [you don't have to pay for postage!] x

  4. I'd lovee to win a copy to give to my friends 13 year old son! He's really into writing but he's also at that awful teenage phase. (I mean being a teenager is awful, not that he's an awful teenager. He's actually incredibly polite!)

  5. I adore all of Caroline's work and can't wait to get my paws on a copy of this! It sounds awesome!! :0

    1. If win the copy of this book, there's no way for me to get in contact with you. Could you please post a Twitter name, a blog address or an email?

  6. This looks great. Can't wait to read it!

    1. If win the copy of this book, there's no way for me to get in contact with you. Could you please post a Twitter name, a blog address or an email?

  7. That invisibility poem takes me back... I got bullied in school and being able to fade into the background would have been very useful. Right now, the superpower I would like very much is the ability to concentrate (^o^)

  8. I love Caroline's other books, so will definitely be buying this one if I don't win. Shall be keeping my fingers tightly crossed though! Thanks.

  9. What a thoroughly gorgeous idea for a book. I'd love to be in the running to win it.

  10. Ooh! Pick me! Pick me! Sorry, got carried away a bit. Please?

  11. I saw Caroline's tweet about this and it's my first visit - LOVE the questions!... and would LOVE this book!

  12. Thanks for entering, guys. The winner of this one was 'Obsessive Compulsive Dawn.'

    For those who didn't win, I urge you to go buy a copy; it's a fantastic book. :) x