Alan Gibbons

The Alan Gibbons Interview

What was your childhood like?
I was born in Warrington, Cheshire in the early Fifties and brought up in the Cheshire countryside. My dad was a farm labourer. When I was eight he was badly hurt in an accident at work. We had to move to the industrial town of Crewe where I came across bullying for the first time. I learned to take care of myself but there's always a danger you can become a mirror image of the bullies you stand up to.

What were your favourite books when you were young?
I gobbled up an American series called The Bobbsey Twins. I loved Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stephenson, Bows Against the Barons by Geoffrey Trease and Animal Farm by George Orwell. I later read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. My favourite scene is when Magwitch first appears. Unforgettable.

How did you start writing?
My love of writing started as a love of reading. I don't see how you can be a good writer without being a good reader. As a boy I kept my writing secret. I didn't even try to get published in the school magazine. I was too shy. In my mid-thirties I trained to be a teacher and started writing stories for the kids at school. It wasn't long before I'd got the writing bug again.

Which football team do you support?
I have two favourite teams. I started watching Crewe Alexandra back in the Sixties. We'd just got hammered 13-2 by Spurs in the FA Cup ! In the Seventies I lived in Manchester and started going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United. The side I followed then didn't win the title for 26 years. I was mostly standing on the terraces during the wilderness years.

Who are your heroes?
Spartacus and Harriet Tubman. They both fought slavery against the odds.

What is your favourite CD?
Motown Chartbusters, Beatles' Greatest Hits.

What is your favourite book?
The collected works of Shakespeare, Great Expectations, The Stand by Stephen King.

What is your favourite object?
A photo of my family.

What is your favourite film?
Casablanca, Spartacus and The Shawshank Redemption.

What is your favourite food?
An Indian banquet.

How do you relax?
With four kids, Manchester United and Crewe Alex to support I don't get much time for relaxation. I like the sea and the river Mersey. I listen to opera, soul and rock music. Most of all, I read.

What makes you angry?
Bullying, racism, ignorance.

What's it like being an author?
Lonely when you sit at the computer for hours. Great when you get recognition like a good review, a good reception at a school or library, a literary award.

What's your favourite motto?
'The worker and the thinker are mankind's only true kings.'


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