Mark Griffiths is the author of Space Lizards Stole My Brain!, a really fun book for younger readers. It was published in the UK this week and features illustrations by the brilliant Pete Williamson. If you like humour and stories of intergalactic mind-swaps, make sure you grab a copy!
Hello Mark! For anyone who hasn't yet heard of your book, what do they need to know before reading?
The book is a sci-fi comedy aimed at kids aged 7-12. It’s about what happens when an evil alien lizard gets his mind transferred into the body of an ordinary Earth boy. Other than that the reader doesn’t need to know anything except how to read English and how to laugh!
What inspired Space Lizards Stole My Brain!? Any old sci-fi movies?
I was writing a TV script about a group of kids and there was one minor character in it who was this geeky 11 year old boy who talked like he was some inhuman alien warrior. It was never explained why the kid talked like that – maybe he’d read one too many weird fantasy novels or spent too long immersed in role-playing games. The TV script went nowhere but the idea of this character stayed with me for some reason. Then one day I realised that the reason why this kid talked like he was an inhuman alien warrior was because he WAS an inhuman alien warrior trapped in the body of an Earth kid! It was in working out who the alien and kid were that the story of Space Lizards Stole My Brain! came about. I was inspired more by comedy than by science fiction films – classic TV shows like Blackadder and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Roald Dahl and Douglas Adams were big influences too.
You've worked with a great illustrator on Space Lizards: Pete Williamson. Did you write and send him snippets to illustrate or was he involved throughout the whole process?
Pete Williamson is amazing! His stuff has this wonderful bittersweet quality. He came aboard once the text of the book was finished. The book’s editor and designer created a brief for him based on the scenes they felt would make good illustrations. I had some input into this. One scene I was particularly keen to see illustrated was the bit where a Triceratops runs amok in a town centre. It’s one of my favourite pictures in the whole book. I also love the cover. It’s totally eye-catching and fun.
If your book was ever made into an animated film, which actors do you think would be perfect for voicing your characters? (For some reason I imagine Ray Winstone as Admiral Skink!)
Ray Winstone as Admiral Skink would be brilliant! I think Rupert Grint would make a great voice for Lance. He does that lovely put-upon, world-weary thing. Ramona Marquez (Karen in Outnumbered) would be great as Lance’s annoying sister, Sally. Dawn French would be loads of fun as Lance’s peevish Mum. I’ll make a note of these for when Mr Spielberg calls...
Say you were Admiral Skink, and your mind had just arrived on Earth from another planet. What 3 things would you have to take back with you to show the other space lizards how cool our planet is?
Ooh, good question! I would take a tree, probably the most beautiful thing our world has yet produced. I’d also take a boxset of The Simpsons, probably the funniest thing our planet has yet produced. Finally I’d take a pork pie from the bakers in my home town in North Wales, without doubt the tastiest thing our planet has ever produced.
What's next for Lance, Skink and the other Swerdlixians?
The sequel Space Lizards Ate My Sister! is out in August and I’m really excited already. It’s even wilder, weirder and funnier than the first book and I’m really pleased with it. It’s the first book I’ve written knowing it’s definitely going to be published and that was an amazing liberating feeling.