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A. F. Harrold - Author

About the Author

A.F. Harrold is an English poet (1975-present). He writes and performs for adults and children, in cabaret and in schools, in bars and in basements, in fields and indoors. He was Glastonbury Festival Website's Poet-In-Residence in 2008, and Poet-In-Residence at Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2010. He won the Cheltenham All Stars Slam Championship in 2007 and has had his work on BBC Radio 4, Radio 3 and BBC7. He is active in schools work, running workshops and slams and doing performances at ungodly hours of the morning, and has published several collections of poetry. He is the owner of many books, a handful of hats, a few good ideas and one beard. He spends his time showing off on stage, writing poems and books, and stroking his beard (it helps churn the ideas). He is the author of the Fizzlebert Stump series and the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal longlisted The Imaginary, illustrated by Emily Gravett. The Imaginary is the winner of the 7-11 category of the UKLA Awards. A.F Harrold lives in Reading with a stand-up comedian and two cats. 

A Q&A with the author

1.    What are your 5 favourite books, and why?
Five books I like (the word ‘favourite’ is invidious and unrealistic, of course): Delight by J.B. Priestley (a collection of perfect tiny essays about things that made him happy); Gentleman Jim by Raymond Briggs (the only one of his books I had as a kid, and a wonderful sad-hopeful story); The Green Knight by Iris Murdoch (this could almost stand for any of her novels, odd unfashionable monsters that I adore); The Story Giant by Brian Patten (the poet’s lightness of touch makes this collection of folk (and other) tales a melt in the mouth read); Memorial by Alice Oswald (a marvellously moving piece of war poetry, a translation of the Iliad told as a list of the dead, simple and hugely effective).

2.    Who are your 5 favourite authors/illustrators, and why?
Again, no favourites, per se, but at various times in my life the following five have been important to me: Barbara Firth (the greatest illustrator of bears in children’s books full stop, no argument); J.R.R. Tolkien (for, almost accidentally, allowing us a glimpse into his lifelong private world-building exercise); Norman MacCaig (one of the great poets of nature and time and thought – never fussy and complex, but always sharp, charming and short); Iris Murdoch (for her ungainly, unlikely, unworldly novels of love and philosophy; Jill Bennett (I have a print of her drawing of the BFG (from Danny Champion of the World) on the wall by my desk, which is so many times more mysterious and fascinating than Blake’s BFG that became the standard).

3.    What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Let’s plump for The Hobbit. It was a book that certainly hooked my imagination and tangled me up in its world. I went to sleep listening to the tapes of it.

4.    Who is your favourite hero in a book?
How about the boy in The Witches simply for what he does and what he goes through and how he ends up. There’s pluck for you.

5.    Who is your favourite villain in a book?
I have a soft spot for both Mr Gum and Mr Twit. Every villain needs a good beard, surely?

6.    If you could be a character from a book who would you be?
I’d like to think I could be Professor Calculus, but I’d probably discover I was Thompson or Thomson.


7.    If you could recommend just one book for everyone to read what would it be?
I wouldn’t suggest there’s any book everyone ought to read, but one that I’d happily share out is Spike Milligan’s Silly Verse For Kids. It would take a sour puss indeed to not find something in there to raise a grin.

8.    Who or what was your biggest influence in deciding to become a writer?
My inability to think of anything else to do. To make poems was the only thing that felt right. Every now and then one of them isn’t terrible. And now stories seem to happen as well.

9.    What inspired you to write your latest book?
The Imaginary came about because of two thoughts that occurred around the same time. One was the image of an imaginary boy stood by the side of the road after an accident. He was on his own for the first time. He was beginning to fade. The other was a thought of a canteen, a greasy spoon sort of place, full of big blokes with ‘I love Mum’ tattoos and mugs of builder’s tea and cigarettes on the go. A foreman type walks in with a clipboard and says, ‘Little Billy Jones needs a friend …’ and one of the hairy Neanderthal-ish chaps gets up and says, ‘Okay boss,’ and goes out the door, squeezing himself into whatever shape Billy Jones wants his imaginary friend to be. So, an agency for imaginary friends. Neither of the those images/pictures/thoughts makes it unchanged into the book, but they were the initial spurs.

10.    When did you start writing?
I began writing poetry seriously (and awfully) as a teenager, but I’d had a typewriter as a kid and banged away on it, though I’ve no idea and no memory of what I was writing.

11.    If someone wanted to be a writer what would be your number one tip for them?
Just keep on with it. The more you do it, the better you’ll get. And read lots.

Photo credit: Naomi Woddis

Featured books by A. F. Harrold

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Cried Fish

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Cried Fish

7+ readers 9+ readers

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback Release Date: 13/02/2014

More adventures with Fizzlebert Stump.  Can Fizzlebert solve the mystery of the missing sea lion, avoid an over-enthusiastic crocodile, and find his friend?

ebook of the month

Other books by A. F. Harrold

Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy

Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/03/2020

Perfect for fans of Mr Gum and Roald Dahl, this highly successful and widely praised series featuring a boy, a circus and a lot of silliness is now available in a bright new package. 'Freewheeling frivolity' - Financial Times 'Once, and once only, there was a boy whose name was Fizzlebert.' Fizzlebert Stump lives in a circus where the bearded Barboozul family are the new stars. Their act is full of magic, mystery, fear and fun. And it's nice to have another boy around, even if he is a bit ... hairy round the chin. But then things start going wrong. The lion loses his dentures. The clowns lose their noses. The Ringmaster loses his temper. And the circus is about to lose its licence. Is the bearded boy to blame? Can Fizz save the day? The story of a boy, some beards, a sinister plot, clowns in crisis, and a very poorly rabbit.

Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus (and joined the library)

Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus (and joined the library)

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/03/2020

Perfect for fans of Mr Gum and Roald Dahl, this highly successful and widely praised series featuring a boy, a circus and a lot of silliness is now available in a bright new package. 'Freewheeling frivolity' - Financial Times 'Once, and once only, there was a boy whose name was Fizzlebert.' Fizzlebert Stump lives in a travelling circus. But although he gets to hang around with acrobats, play the fool with clowns, and put his head in a lion's mouth every night, he's the only kid there - and he's bored. But then Fizz decides to join a library, and life suddenly gets a lot more exciting when he is kidnapped by a pair of crazed pensioners! Will he ever see the circus again? A story of a boy, a book, some very bad people, some very brave deeds, and the importance of rubber teeth for lions.

The Song from Somewhere Else

The Song from Somewhere Else

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/11/2017

Winner of the Amnesty CILIP Honour for Illustration 2018 Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal Frank doesn't know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He's big, he's weird and he smells - or so everyone in Frank's class thinks. And yet, there's something nice about Nick's house. There's strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever. But there's more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn't the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help ... A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it. Written by the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Levi Pinfold, this is perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman.

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

Greta Zargo and the Death Robots from Outer Space

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/09/2017

Nobody knew it at that moment, but only three things stood in the way of the complete destruction of the Earth: one elderly parrot; one eight-year-old spelling mistake; and an intrepid young schoolgirl-turned-reporter in search of a story ... Greta Zargo needs a big scoop if she's going to win the Prilchard-Spritzer Medal, the quite famous award for great reporting. But big scoops are in short supply in the quiet little town of Upper Lowerbridge, and all Greta's got to investigate is a couple of missing cakes. But then, with a whoosh of unknown energy, a mysterious silver robot descends from the sky ... A laugh-out-loud funny new series from the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary, perfect for fans of Mr Gum, Chris Riddell, and Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre's Oliver and the Seawigs

The Song from Somewhere Else

The Song from Somewhere Else

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/11/2016

Winner of the Amnesty CILIP Honour for Illustration 2018 Shortlisted for the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Longlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal Frank doesn't know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He's big, he's weird and he smells - or so everyone in Frank's class thinks. And yet, there's something nice about Nick's house. There's strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever. But there's more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn't the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help ... A poignant, darkly comic and deeply moving story about the power of the extraordinary, and finding friendship where you least expect it. Written by the author of the critically acclaimed The Imaginary and illustrated by award-winning illustrator Levi Pinfold, this is perfect for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman

Fizzlebert Stump and the Great Supermarket Showdown

Fizzlebert Stump and the Great Supermarket Showdown

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/08/2016

Is this is final hurrah for Fizzlebert Stump? Have the circus performers taken their final bow? Find out in the final book in this hilarious series that is perfect for fans of Mr Gum. When the ringmaster sells Fizz's circus to the mysterious Mr Pinkbottle, disaster strikes! All the acts who aren't fired are forced to work in his supermarket. Not an easy task at all if your only skill is plate-spinning or being a trapeze artist, or indeed a sea lion! Will the ex-circus performers adjust to their new lives as shop assistants, or will Fizz find a way to save them all?

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Did P.E. in his Pants

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Did P.E. in his Pants

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 11/02/2016

Going to school isn't very exciting, is it? Well for Fizzlebert Stump it's a whole new adventure! The next book in this hilarious series that is perfect for fans of Mr Gum. Fizzlebert Stump lives in a circus. He is usually found training to be a strongman or being taught history by a magician or playing football with a sea lion, but not today. After being lost in the woods and mistaken for a very rude girl, here he is, at the back of the class confusing the teacher. Will anyone believe Fizz is telling the truth? Can he find his way back to the circus? Or will he be forced to sit up straight and pay attention forever? A story of friendship, foolish grown-ups, mistaken identity and a very fortunate case of hay fever.

The Imaginary

The Imaginary

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/11/2015

An extraordinary tale of love, loss, imagination and not really being there, for fans of Roald Dahl and Neil Gaiman. Rudger is Amanda's best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect. Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend - until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn't there survive without a friend to dream him up? A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

Fizzlebert Stump and the Girl Who Lifted Quite Heavy Things

Fizzlebert Stump and the Girl Who Lifted Quite Heavy Things

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 12/02/2015

It's the great Circus of Circuses competition, and Fizzlebert Stump has no act. He's no longer the Boy Who Puts His Head In The Lion's Mouth (the lion retired) and putting his head in a crocodile's mouth instead didn't work out for some reason. Can Fizz find a new act in time? Can the Bearded Boy find his long-lost parents? And can their new friend Alice, professional flower-arranger and secret Strongwoman, find her rightful place in the circus? A story of circus rivalry, learning who you really are, and the problem of oddly-shaped vegetables. Brilliantly bonkers and perfect for fans of Mr Gum and Lemony Snicket.

The Imaginary

The Imaginary

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Hardback Release Date: 23/10/2014

Rudger is Amanda's best friend. He doesn't exist, but nobody's perfect. Only Amanda can see her imaginary friend - until the sinister Mr Bunting arrives at Amanda's door. Mr Bunting hunts imaginaries. Rumour says that he eats them. And he's sniffed out Rudger. Soon Rudger is alone, and running for his imaginary life. But can a boy who isn't there survive without a friend to dream him up? A brilliantly funny, scary and moving read from the unique imagination of A.F. Harrold, this beautiful book is astoundingly illustrated with integrated art and colour spreads by the award-winning Emily Gravett.

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Cried Fish

Fizzlebert Stump: The Boy Who Cried Fish

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/02/2014

Fizzlebert Stump lives in a circus. His mum's a clown, his best friend is a bearded boy, and he sticks his head in a lion's mouth every night. Other than that, he's pretty normal. When Fish the sea lion goes missing Fizzlebert tracks down the runaway beast to the Aquarium, with its piratical owner Admiral Spratt-Haddock, invisible octopus, and colour-coded fish. But the Aquarium has problems of its own. Fish (not Fish the sea lion, fish. Keep up.) are going missing, and the Admiral blames the circus. Can Fizzlebert solve the mystery, avoid an over-enthusiastic crocodile, and find his friend?

Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy

Fizzlebert Stump and the Bearded Boy

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 14/03/2013

Fizzlebert Stump's second adventure. The bearded Barboozul family are the new stars of Fizz's circus. Their act is full of magic, mystery, fear and fun. And it's nice to have another boy around, even if he is a bit...hairy round the chin. But then things start going wrong. The lion loses his dentures. The clowns lose their noses. The Ringmaster loses his temper. And the circus is about to lose its licence. Is the bearded boy to blame? Can Fizz save the day?

Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus (and joined the library)

Fizzlebert Stump The Boy Who Ran Away From the Circus (and joined the library)

Author: A. F. Harrold Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/06/2012

'There are many boys in the world, all slightly different from one another, and most of them are referred to by names. These are often John or Jack or Desmond, but sometimes they are James or Philip or Simon. Once, and once only, there was a boy whose name was Fizzlebert.' Fizzlebert Stump lives in a travelling circus. But although he gets to hang around with acrobats, play the fool with clowns, and put his head in a lion's mouth every night, he's the only kid there - and he's bored. But then Fizz decides to join a library, and life suddenly gets a lot more exciting, when a simple library card application leads to him being kidnapped by a pair of crazed pensioners! Will he ever see the circus again?

Author Info

Author's Website

https://www.afharrold.co.uk/

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