Wednesday, 23 November 2016

David Walliams talks about The Midnight Gang

We've read every book he's written.  Then we've read them again. And again. Honestly, I don't think David Walliams could write a bad children's book. Each one is hilarious, crammed with fantastic characters and dreamed up by a rare and brilliant mind.  Cross between Roald Dahl and Kenneth Williams, he's guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

When news of his latest book The Midnight Gang came out, I was instructed asked to get it pre-ordered so it would arrive on release day.  It was devoured at every opportunity and declared an instant hit! A children's hospital is perhaps an unlikely backdrop for magical adventures, but Walliams delivers with his usual style. It's no surprise that it shot straight to the number one position.

We were lucky enough to attend one of his live shows at the weekend, and meet some of the characters from the story.  The event at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham was raising funds for the Birmingham Children's Hospital and we are all excited to see him.

Lots of people had come dressed in their pyjamas and dressing gowns and every child was presented with a goody bag of a 'midnight feast' before settling down in our seats.  The performance was introduced and hosted by CBBC's Kate Thistleton.  David Walliams came on stage dressed in his dapper silk pyjamas and gold monogrammed slippers.

He began by talking about his inspiration for some of the characters. The Porter for instance in the story is based on one of his favourite characters from childhood- the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Other inspiration came from Peter Pan.

You cannot beat hearing an author reading their work aloud - hearing the intonation and voices that they intended brings the whole story magically to life.  The entire audience were enthralled listening to excerpts of The Midnight Gang.

Of course, like most of his books, Raj the shopkeeper makes an appearance and he told us that this character was inspired by a real life shopkeeper near where he lived.  The shop was chaotic - biros kept in the ice cream freezer, balls of string with the magazines... yet he was always jovial and they used to have a lot of laughs together.  He wanted a character in his books who was an adult, yet not an authority figure like a teacher or parent.  It's funny to think that somewhere in London there's a retired shopkeeper who probably has no idea he's the inspiration for such a much-loved book character!

He talked about his relationship with Tony Ross who illustrates most of his books, how he always gifts him a crate of gin at the end of each project and how he has complete faith and trust in his interpretation of the stories.

In his last book, The World's Worst Children, a collection of short stories, he admitted that Blubbering Bertha was based in part on his sister and he himself was probably most like Windy Mindy - a girl with incredible wind who manages to play the tuba with her bottom burps!

He loves to write about things which are a bit naughty and not usually talked about in polite conversation, and said that's what first drew him to his hero Roald Dahl.

Williams described himself as a reluctant reader as a child and it was only when he discovered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and the magical world that opened up, did he develop a love of reading.  His other childhood favourites were Dr Suess books, Stig and The Dump and Day of the Triffids.

He admitted to feeling some pressure now he's in that position to influence young minds, he loves that he can now encourage reluctant readers, particularly boys, to take an interest in literature, but said it does come with a responsibility.

When compared to Roal Dahl, he felt he's a cheap imitation - a Poundland Dahl, but very much inspired by his style, the forbidden, the dark versus the funny, and his ability to capture the spirit of a character.

As a budding writer, Ruby found it riveting to hear his advice, to look for inspiration everywhere - even the most unlikely of places.  Gangsta Granny for example was based on his own grandmother - no, she didn't steal the crown jewels, but her home did always smell of cabbage and he was quite reluctant to go and visit.  That was until he started to really talk to her about her youth, her history and the exciting adventures she'd had.  He loved to hear her stories of the Blitz in London and it made him realise that everyone's got a fascinating story.

It really was a fascinating show.  We loved hearing some of the thought process and inspiration behind some of our favourite stories, and listening to him read in character's voices was such a magical treat.  If you get the chance to see him, do go along.

You can watch the show on the World of David Walliams Facebook page and he's also appearing in London with Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) at the O2 on1st December - now that will be brilliant!

Disclosure: We were gifted the tickets to see the show.
the Pigeon Pair and Me


  1. My son is of the age now where I think he'd enjoy David Walliams books - we have never read any but I've heard great things. Glad you enjoyed the show!

  2. I will have to get this for my eldest! She loves reading and I think she will enjoy this.

  3. I'm not surprised Dr Seuss was an influence on Walliams. His books are similarly zany and whacky. I bet he was amazing to watch on stage - I loved him in Little Britain. Thanks ever so much for linking up with #CulturedKids. Thrilled to have you! x

  4. This sounds amazing! My boys read the first few David Walliams books, but sadly they've grown out of them now. My daughter refuses to read anything her brothers read, which means she's rejected David Walliams and Harry Potter! But she has read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson books and we've had the pleasure of hearing Jacqueline Wilson speak a couple of times and she is an amazing lady.

  5. Sounds like a wonderful experience - such a thrill to meet a favourite author.

  6. My daughter is obsessed too, it makes me realise how little stand out books their are for kids, especially those who are a bit on the reluctant side. She devours these. What a fab event you lucky things. Have met David though and he is surprisingly well spoken and charming in real life!

  7. I am desperate to read the books but my Daughter is still only four and i think she might be too young? Although we read every night and she does have a very vivid imagination!
    Such an exciting opportunity for your family, sounds like a fantastic experience x

  8. Clearly I live under a rock now that my son is all but grown up - I didn't even know that David Walliams writes children's books! I'm pretty sure my son would have loved them in his younger years.

  9. Wow, just wow. When I told Mini he was green with envy. He read the book within two days and also has it on audible too. David reads his stories so well and it really adds to the experience.

  10. I would have loved to have attended one of his shows. Isaac has just started reading the book and it has hooked him straight in

  11. My son loves David Walliams books but he hasn't read this one yet - I love the audiobook versions of David Walliams books too as he does a great job at reading them x x x x

  12. Oh this sounds great! I think my son is just reaching the right age for these books and they sound like his sense of humour ;)

  13. This is on my daughters wish list this year, she loves David Walliams x

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