Red Fox, 2001
"'I'll race you,' said Dad.
'You're on,' I said. I took off my watch and leant it against the HP sauce bottle in the middle of the breakfast table. I arranged three dry Weetabix in Dad's bowl and three dry Weetabix in mine..."
The fourth book in the Agent Z series and one of the hardest books I've ever had to write. Doubtless there are many authors out there who enjoy nothing better than returning to the same charcters and the same setting time and time again. But the idea of writing something 'exactly the same but different' fills me with horror. I remember moaning to my editor at the time, 'There's only a limited number of plots in the world and I've already used both of them'.
To make matters worse I had to write and illustrate the book at a ridiculously high speed before moving to Boston, MA. This was 1995, very few people had e-mail, scanners were restricted to the higher echelons of NASA and I assumed that working on an illustrated book from the other side of the Atlantic would be like working on an illustrated book from a nearby solar system. Predictably, soon after I delivered the final draft I discovered that the publication was being indefinitely postponed due to the meagre sales of the previous Agent Z books. The Killer Bananas didn't see the light of day till five years later. There's a lesson there.
And I do like the illustrations. If it's not impolite for me to say so. That sea creature emerging from a toilet gives me a little glow every time I look at it.
There is now a new edition of this book with a new cover which you can see here.