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Kids' Q&A

Catherine Jinks

Describe your new book.
Evil Genius is about a super-intelligent kid called Cadel, whose father is a jailed criminal mastermind. Cadel is being groomed to take over his dad's evil empire (and the world); to this end, he enrolls at the Axis Institute for World Domination, where he joins a student body dedicated to learning about crime. But he soon begins to realize that he doesn't want to follow the path laid down for him, and tries to escape from his father's clutches.

I'm currently finishing up a sequel to Evil Genius, which is called Genius Squad.

What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
Actually, I always had a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes, and used to imagine helping him out. But I'm ashamed to say that the two fictional characters I've always longed and longed to meet are two of my own: Pagan Kidrouk and Lord Roland Roucy de Bram, from the Pagan Chronicles. I loved them so much that I wrote four books about them, and they were so real to me that once, I remember, I had the strangest feeling that if I looked around, they'd be sitting in the back of the car. I suppose it's because Pagan was so funny, and Lord Roland was so beautiful and good, that I wanted to meet them.

The thing about writing books is that if you create a really great character, it takes on a life of its own. So it's not as if you own that character: you just happen to know him or her better than anyone else does.

What do you do for relaxation?
I'm a very nervy kind of person, who finds it almost impossible to relax. But there are three things that do relax me:

1) Watching snow fall outside my study window. (Unfortunately, where I live, that happens only once every two or three years.)

2) Listening to sacred choral music from the late medieval era.

3) Sitting around and listening to someone play the guitar, really well (without singing).

I can also fall into a slightly hypnotic state when I hear someone turning the pages of a book or magazine. Why? Go figure.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Mostly I wanted to be a writer, though for a couple of years there I wanted to be an animator, because I loved drawing and capturing beautiful movements. But I'm glad I didn't get into that area, because I'm not much good at computers (oddly enough) — and these days animation is all about computers!

Why do you write books for kids?
I write books for all age groups — young kids, teenagers and adults — because I get a range of different ideas. When an idea first occurs to me, I have to stop and ask myself: Which age group would this idea appeal to? If it's a really gruesome horror story, or one where the main characters have to be adults, then it goes in the 'adult' basket. If it's really imaginative, and a little bit crazy, with lots of action, it will go in the 'kids' basket.

Writing for kids tends to be a bit more fun than writing for adults. Although adult books can be more challenging and intellectually engaging, kids' books are much more enjoyable, as a rule.

Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
Claiming that one particular Simpsons episode is the best of all time would be like claiming that one particular form of chocolate is the best of all time: there are so many great ones, and it all comes down to personal taste. But for me, the one that really appeals is the one when Lisa gets braces — you know, the 'Calvin Klein for teeth', 'Big Book of British Smiles' one. That's because I had braces, and a dentist who practically did say, on one occasion, 'Why do you turn this surgery into a den of lies?'

Who are your favorite characters in history?
My favourite characters in history are the ones I tend to write about most: namely, medieval monks and priests. I've written seven books featuring medieval monks and/or priests, and I never get tired of them. Contrary to what you might think, they were in many cases very, very interesting people; they were better educated than anyone else, and they were often asked to lead armies, investigate crimes (or what were regarded as crimes), build war machines, defend people at trial and travel all over the globe — as well as writing books, teaching students, and worshipping God. People often forget how important monks and priests were, in medieval times. They tend to concentrate on the knights and kings.

If you could be someone else, who would that be, and why?
That's a very interesting question, because I'm actually a writer for one reason: I want to be someone else. In fact, I want to be LOTS of other people, one after the other. If I was satisfied with being me, I wouldn't be jumping into other people's lives over and over and over again, in my books.

Actually, I wouldn't want to be someONE else, because being one person is far too boring. I'd like to be a bunch of other people, doing different things: say, a sculptor, AND someone in a rock band, AND a scholar traveling around Europe doing research, AND someone making movies, AND a person living out in the Australian countryside, writing books.

It's a pity that time is so restricting. spacer

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