Kids eh? God bless the little ankle-biters. They enrich your life at the same they empty your pockets. And don't they say the funniest things? Like, 'Dad, will you dance Gangman Style with us?' To which there's only one answer you can give, as they look at you imploringly, eyes alight with respect and love. Yes, that's right: '**** off and play on your Playstation.'
I jest of course (I just said 'Not just now' and carried on listening to the cricket on the radio, thereby giving the impression I might dance later, when of course I didn't. This is both good parenting by me and good preparation for them for the realities and disappointments of life.) My kids are great fun. And now I've finally put them to good, profitable use.
You see, the problem with writing gory detective novels with graphic scenes of torture is that when your children, all under 10 and prone to suffering from nightmares, say, 'Dad, can we read your book?' you have to refuse. This leads to a situation where your nine-year-old tells his pals that his dad writes sick books about people getting tortured, and all of a sudden you're given a wide berth in the playground whern you collect them from school. It also means endless questions about when you will write a book that they are allowed read, and if there's one thing I hate it's endless questions.
So, to keep them quiet, I wrote, with the help of the wonderful people at Walker Books and a very talented illustrator called Jim Smith, a book called How to be Detective. It's a fun, interactive guide to detective work, complete with fingerprint kit and microscope and all manner of other things to do and make. There's even a mystery to solve at the end of the book, as well some jokes and this picture of me...
A friend bought it for her son. She says he loved it, and has become quite the snoop since. Only the other day when the last of the biscuits went missing, he had his younger sister under interrogation and was hilariously Googling the term waterboarding to help his investigation further. I'm still being given a wide berth in the playground, but the kids are far more forthbcoming about the misdemeanour of their parents. Oh and the Boston Globe liked it too.
So - and sorry for this bit of self-pimping but we all have to make a living - if you have any curious sons and daughters, nieces or nephews, or even better: you're a grandparent and you think it'd be hilarious to turn your grandkids into nosey sleuths who would make their parents' lives a misery, then you have your Christmas present sorted. Available from all good bookshops and the ones online too.