A boyband to die for!

Posted on Thursday, June 1, 2017

Everything you have most to fear from boybands is brought hilariously to life in TOM NICOLL's latest novel, THE BOYBAND OF THE APOCALYPSE, about a boyband that plans to take over the world!

With a glance at X-Factor, hairstyles to die for and some very scary girl fandom, BOYBAND OF THE APOCALYPSE follows plucky young hero Sam who must try to join the boyband Apocalips to try and stop them from destroying the world! You can download the first chapter, below. We asked author TOM NICOLL to tell us more about BOYBAND OF THE APOCALYPSE! Q: Why did you decide to write a book about a boyband - and an evil one at that? A: It actually came out of another book I had been working on a few years ago. I had some ideas for potential sequels to it and somewhere in there I came up with the title for one of them: 'Boyband of the Apocalypse'. The book didn't get published in the end, but I loved the title so much I knew I had to do something with it. And as a teenager growing up with a sister who listened to Westlife all the time, it wasn't too hard for me to imagine an evil boyband. Q: Did you drop in on any boyband concerts as part of your research for this book? You did the research, right? A: Er... no. I totally meant to but I it um... must have slipped my mind... whoops! Q: Why did you decide to make Apocalips a boy band rather than a girl band? A: I'm going to have to be careful about how I put this, but I think boy band fans are definitely more... passionate, which is something that Apocalips, the boyband in the book, exploit. To give an example, I still remember the day Robbie Williams left Take That and how big a deal that was. Oddly enough, I was driving down to Alton Towers with my family that day and then, by some weird coincidence was also driving down to Alton Towers on the day he re-joined Take That fifteen years later. I don't quite know if that means I somehow have control over Robbie Williams' status in Take That. I hope not, I don't think I'd be comfortable with that level of power. Q: In the story Sam, an ordinary boy, decides to apply to become a boyband member in order to help save the world - but he can't sing or dance (although he has a killer haircut!). If you were applying to be in a band, which bit would you struggle the most with? A: Like Sam I'd definitely struggle with singing the most. I think most people could probably learn to dance enough to get by, but I could practice for the rest of my life and the best I could hope for is to be slightly better than an alley-cat with laryngitis. If I was in a boyband I'd definitely have to be one of the ones that stands at the back and doesn't do much like the guys in Boyzone. Q: Was the brilliant audition scene inspired by any popular TV show that readers might have seen...? Along with a couple of the characters...? A: You've rumbled me! Yes of course, it's heavily influenced by HBO's The Wire. Glad you spotted it. Although everyone else seems to think it was inspired by some show called the X-Factor. Because apparently that also has an incredibly mean and vain judge in it too. And he also doesn't get on with one of the other judges even though they keep making television programmes together. But, I mean, obviously that's just coincidence. Q: How did your characters Sam, his sister Lexi and friend Milo develop? A: At the start of the story, Sam is in a place I think a lot of kids probably are at the age of 13 where they haven't quite figured out what it is they're good at yet. Sam watches Apocalips and can't help but wish he could be as talented as them. But when it falls to him to try to save the world he does eventually discover his real talent, as does his best friend Milo and his little sister Lexi. I usually have a pretty good idea of my characters beforehand. I might have to flesh them out a bit as I go, but Lexi for example, I always knew she was going to be a ten year old girl crossed with the spirit of B.A. Baracus from the A-Team. Seriously, I pity the fool that crosses Lexi. Q: What about the fabulous evil quartet, the Heatherstones - how much fun did you have with them? A: The Heatherstones were ridiculous fun to write. Baddies always are. My editor Katie called them the best villains since Voldemort which is probably my favourite complement about anything, ever. Q: What do you think of David O'Connell's illustrations for Boyband of the Apocalypse? A: They're incredible. I literally almost cried when I saw his drafts, I loved them so much. Just the drafts! He got everything spot on and they're full of little details that add so much to the book. He's done a phenomenal job. Q: A lot of your books, like this one, are very funny. Why do you like to make your readers chuckle? A: Thanks! There's not a lot that can beat making someone laugh but the truth is I mainly write to make myself laugh. Luckily other people seem to find it funny too so it's worked out well for me. Q: Do you have a favourite funny moment in your latest story? A: It was fun coming up with all the weird dance names, like the Haunted Futon and the Sinister Chihuahua, but I think the bit that made me laugh the most wasn't even mine. It's one of David's illustrations - the one where the three judges are shown on stage with their faces on giant screens above them. Except for Dominic Douglas, who is definitely not at all like Louis Walsh (whoever he is), whose top half of his head has been cut off. It's quite a subtle joke but I burst out laughing when I spotted it. Q: In the everyday world, what makes you laugh the most? A: I love all kinds of comedy, but these days it's probably my daughter. Q: Who are your favourite funny writers / book recomendations? A: I'll always answer Roald Dahl and Terry Pratchett and Sue Townsend for this, but for more recent recommendations I really loved Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford and on a similar science-y theme, The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge was pretty funny too. Q: What are your top tips for children to write funny stories? A: Don't worry about trying to make other people laugh, just try to write something that you find funny. Humour is so subjective - what one person finds funny someone else might not. But if it at least makes you laugh then there's a good chance it'll make others laugh too. Q: What kind of music do you like listening to - any boybands in there....? A: I'm a bit all over the place these days I think. Ben Folds, PJ Harvey, Garbage, The Pierces, Amy MacDonald, Haim and an assortment of 80's power ballads, 90s indie and video game soundtracks. I like listening to jazz a lot now too, especially when reading. It's really relaxing and it lets me pretend I'm sophisticated. No boybands, though I fully expect this situation to change soon as my daughter starts getting into music. Q: Where do you write and what's your favourite escape from writing? A: I'm actually in the middle of moving house right now so where I write is kind of in flux. Normally it's at my dining room table with headphones on as my wife watches repeats of Grey's Anatomy in the background. But soon we'll be moving into our new house where I'll have my own office. Soon... yes soon it will be mine! (laughs maniacally) When I'm not writing my favourite escape right now is to play a video game called Rocket League. It's basically football except with rocket powered cars. I play it online with my friend. We are not very good, but we try.