These are questions from the latest events I've been doing:
Do you polish your face?
Who's the most famous person you've ever touched?
Where did you get your shoes?
What's your favourite flavour of ice-cream?
If I brought her into school, would you sign my mum?
and, of course, the question I'm asked most frequently:
What car do you drive?
For the answers to none of these questions and more, simply scroll down this page...
I get asked a lot of things. "Where do you think you're going?", "Would you like any vegetables with that?", "Did you get dressed in the dark this morning?" - just some examples.
Every now and again, somebody asks me a question that has something to do with my life as a novelist and musician. So 'frequently' is a fluid term here. Let's not get too hung up on it.
By the way, the answers to those three examples are, respectively: "Our for lunch," "Spinach, please" and "What are you saying? You don't like the smart-casual/Seventies fusion look?"
Now let's get started:
Do I have to read the Jimmy Coates books in order?
The answer is: NO. A lot of people start with the latest book in the series, and I write the books so that you can pick up any book and it should be an enjoyable, gripping read even if you have never seen any of the earlier books.
But if you DO read the books in order, there is a story that runs through the whole series.
Think of each book as a new series of a great TV show. You don't have to have seen every series of the show that's ever been on TV to start watching.
So you don't have to read the books in order, but once you're reading the book, read the pages in order. That's a good tip that goes for pretty much any work of fiction. Don't try it with the dictionary, though. I tried reading that in order once and it took me ages to get to the word I needed.
How many Jimmy Coates books are there going to be?
There will EIGHT Jimmy Coates books in total. Yes, that's right: 8. Book 7 will be called JIMMY COATES: BLACKOUT and although there's been a long wait for it... it's OUT NOW. Jimmy Coates: Blackout is here.
The final Jimmy Coates book will be called JIMMY COATES: GENESIS. Yes, I do already know what it's about and whether Jimmy Coates will die at the end or not. And no, I'm not telling.
Is it true that you collect frogs?
Yup, that's true. But not real frogs - models of them, pictures, toys, ornaments... Anything like that. I don't tend to buy them for myself any more, because I have over a thousand and nowhere to put them. People do buy me frogs as presents every now and again though.
What's the opposite of a camel?
Apparently, the answer is a soapdish. But I'm not convinced.
Is it true that March 1st can never fall on a Sunday?
Is there going to be a Jimmy Coates movie?
At the moment there is a lot of interest from production companies in making a Jimmy Coates movie or TV series - and there might be an announcement in the pipeline very soon... but I can't say any more than that at the moment, except that I'm optimistic.
Meanwhile, spread the word about the books...
What's all this about snooker?
Ah, that means you've probably heard that I've taken up snooker - one of the greatest sports ever invented - and I'm in training to win the World Snooker Championship by 2015.
Because of this, I couldn't resist putting a scene set at Camden Snooker Club into Jimmy Coates: Survival. Look out for it. Sadly, the snooker club in Camden has now closed.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. It never even crossed my mind. The closest I came to wanting to be a writer was that I loved pens. I used to pick out favourite pens and scrawl on bits of paper just to experience the feeling of writing with a good pen. And yes, that is a bit odd. I was like that. Anyway, what I always wanted to be is a musician - or a songwriter, to be exact. I'm pleased to say that as well as being a writer, that's what I am. I've been a songwriter longer than I've been a novelist, in fact, though the last couple of years have been focused mainly on the novels.
Who is your favourite author?
Without a doubt, Nabokov. He's my number one man, but he's not a children's author, so I think you'd have to be at least 17 to enjoy his books. My favourites of his novels are Bend Sinister, Pale Fire, Lolita and... OK, all of them. I'm also a big fan of Paul Auster, who wrote New York Trilogy, Mr. Vertigo, The Book of Illusions and many more. Again, he's not a children's author, so read his stuff when you're a bit older.
My favourite children's authors are Dick King-Smith (especially Harry's Mad) and Dr. Seuss.
Your book sounds violent. Is it suitable for my kid?
DON’T WORRY – Jimmy Coates is NOT violent. It’s highly suitable for anybody over the age of 9. Please don’t make assumptions about a book because of its title.
Lots of 7 and 8 year-olds enjoy the series too. (In fact, so do 17 and 18 year-olds, but on a different level, I think.)
There’s lots of action in my books, lots of chases and a few fights. Of course there are – I write thrillers, and I try to make them as gripping as possible. But my books certainly do not condone violence, nor do they involve gun-related crime. Nobody who has read them ever suggests that they do.
Comparable books for the same age group, like the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz, or the Young Bond books by Charlie Higson probably contain more blood and violence.
In fact, the UK title of my first book refers to Jimmy’s internal struggle AGAINST a potentially violent future. And the most powerful weapon he has is his brain. I intended that my book raise questions about violence, and its supposed justifications. I think it does this – certainly more than those other books I mentioned.
Also, I’d be an idiot to make my books too violent, because then I wouldn’t sell any copies.
Don’t take my word for it – Jimmy Coates has been read by reviewers, librarians, editors, teachers and, best of all, children. In every case he has been given a resounding thumbs up, and recommended.
If you’re a parent or teacher and you’re still not sure, read a book yourself (it won’t take long) and make up your own mind. There are free extracts of my books in the 'EXTRACTS' link at the top of the page.
How long does it take to write a book?
This depends on the book and writer.
I plan everything out first, which can take anything from two weeks to three months. Usually I've been thinking about the general concept of a book for a really long time before I start planning it, but I've had to wait for the time to plan it out and write.
Once everything is planned out, I write 2000 words a day until the first draft is finished. So that's between 30 and 40 working days (I usually take one or two days a week off to do other things, like school visits and developing other projects). Then I spend at least two weeks intensively editing the book before I show it to anybody. Usually my agent sees it first. If she has feedback, I work on it. Then my editor sees it, and that's when a whole new stage begins. Editing can take MONTHS! Or it can be very quick indeed.
Will you sign my book for me?
Yes. I'd love to. The best way to get a book signed by me is to check my site to see when and where I'm appearing. If it's anywhere near you, come out, say hi, get a book signed. If you can't make it, then in some circumstances I can sign a book if you send it to me in the post, and I'll send it back to you. You have to enclose a self-addressed envelope that's big enough for the book, and enough stamps for return postage - so check what that is first!
And be careful - things do get lost in the post sometimes, so I don't advise this way of doing it.
If you want to send me anything else in the post, put my name on an envelope and send it to the address of the publisher, which you'll find in small print inside a copy of one of my books on the page opposite where the story starts.
The even easier way to get a signed book is to check out this website:
What's your favourite bit of one of your books?
My favourite moment in the whole series is on page 114 of the English edition of Jimmy Coates: Target. I won't tell you why. Even if you read that bit (and there's only half a page of text on that page) you might not know why. But you should be able to work it out if you've been reading the books in order and paying attention.
More answers coming soon! To questions like...
Is it true that you're officially the King of a small island community in the Pacific?
How can I buy you gifts?
It says on Wikipedia that you were raised by geese. Can you speak Goose?
and many more...
I'm always adding more here each time I'm asked good questions, so keep checking back.
Meanwhile, to send me a question, email me: [email protected]
I'd love to hear from you, and your question might make it onto this page. Perhaps I'll even answer it. Now wouldn't that be fine?
This is me at a visit to St Mary's School in Central London. That was a fun one. Do you like my suit?
I've been asked so many questions in the last few weeks, I thought I'd add a few more to this page. Here goes:
Do you design the covers?
Nope. The very clever design team at HarperCollins do all that for me. When they're done, they show it to me and I say "That'll do. Nice job. Aren't you clever?"
What made you want to be a writer?
I never decided to be a writer, but I've always been fascinated by stories and storytelling.
It started with telling jokes, then I focused on getting songs across for a long time (which is a similar skill). Eventually, close analysis of the stories that I loved generated fresh ideas for stories of my own. Once an idea is in my head, I find it hard to let go of it, so I started writing.
Is it deliberate that you and Jimmy Coates have the same initials?
Surprisingly, no. I didn't even notice for a long time. Lots of people think it's a very clever way of showing that Jimmy Coates represents me. But he doesn't. If he did, I like to think I'd have come up with a much cleverer way of showing it. Maybe I would have used an anagram. But then the new book would be called something like GARI COJE: SURVIVAL. Not so catchy.