Hi, Tim, and welcome to the Inkpot. Where did the idea for DIARY OF A WIMPY VAMPIRE come from and were you consciously influenced by TWILIGHT?
It was originally going to be a direct parody of Twilight, but my publisher already had one of those, so I decided to make it a more general vampire comedy. I’m glad I did because, much as I love Twilight, it’s not a million miles away from parody in the first place.
One of the things that I like about DIARY OF A WIMPY VAMPIRE and ADVENTURES OF A WIMPY WEREWOLF is that it mixes character comedy with some excruciatingly funny situations and then throws in snappy lines. How do you go about pulling that together – do you plan it from the start, let it grow organically or is it a mix of the two?
I’ve always thought that if you come up with a character based on a contradiction then the gags will write themselves. This would certainly explain the current fad for mash-ups. Most of them are based on very simple comic juxtapositions, like Monty Python sketches.
Prior to writing WIMPY VAMPIRE and WIMPY WEREWOLF you’d written a number of comedy books for grown-ups. Is there a difference in how you approach comedy for teens and comedy for grown-ups and are there any hints and tips that you’d be willing to share?
Unfortunately, writing for children meant that I couldn’t rely on the usual swearing and eighties pop culture references to get easy laughs. Younger children seem to like broad, slapstick stuff, whereas teens enjoy seeing characters suffering shame and embarrassment. You only need to watch The Inbetweeners for proof of that.
Are you Team Vampire or Team Werewolf?
I’m hedging my bets in case either group takes over the world and enslaves the human race. Let’s just say that whoever our new supernatural overlords turn out to be, I’ll be happy to serve them.
Let’s talk about Nigel’s poetry. Nigel expresses his feelings through the medium of poetry, which he seems to think are individual works of genius, but which the reader may have different opinions about. How difficult was it to write and how did you set about doing it?
It wasn’t so hard to come up with an approximation of bad poetry, but I think that to create truly terrible poetry you either need to be fourteen or a brilliant poet doing everything wrong on purpose. I love Wendy Cope’s Jason Strugnell character, for instance.
I thought it was interesting that having set up Nigel Mullet in the first two WIMPY VAMPIRE books, you switch to a new character, Luke Thorpe, in WIMPY WEREWOLF, but you bring in characters from the previous two books. Why did you make the switch and were there any challenges in bringing new characters into the world and story arc that you’d created?
It was either a bold attempt to create an intertextual universe or something the publishers requested because they thought werewolves were popular, I forget which. But it was a lot of fun to bring all the characters together at the end of the werewolf book.
The WIMPY VAMPIRE books have been translated into Portuguese and German – did that pose any difficulties in terms of getting the humour across?
As far as I can tell, the results have been mixed. Nigel the Vampire seems to be very popular in Portugal, where he has 15,000 Facebook fans, but not in Germany, where he has just 23 fans. It doesn’t look like he’ll be replacing Herr Bean in the affections of the German people anytime soon.
Thank you for taking the time to pop by the Inkpot, Tim.
DIARY OF A WIMPY VAMPIRE, DIARY OF A WIMPY VAMPIRE 2: PRINCE OF DORKNESS and ADVENTURES OF A WIMPY WEREWOLF are available to order in paperback and on Kindle from Amazon UK.
You can find out more about Tim Collins and his other books on his website here.