Frank is the stubborn part of me that won’t be told, whose problem-solving goes feet first, no matter what’s in the way. But he’s not really me. He’s so damn angry! When I was bullied at school I scrunched up and cried. Frank jumps up and punches them in the face. In some ways he’s more of an anti-hero than a hero. He doesn’t do the right thing; he does what he feels like doing and he always tells us what he thinks:

Pam has a face like a pudding

Mrs Hale is like one of the angry moons of Jupiter

And I am a freak

I love that he’s so sure he’s right, even when he’s completely wrong:

 If it’s not normal to take tablets then I won’t take them any more and then I will be normal.

His swearing in the middle of the book is something I debated. It’s not great for younger readers. When Toad challenges Frank, he pretends he didn’t say it.

Toad came nearer. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t hear that.’

‘I said, get lost.’ My voice wavered.

This scene borrows from my middle son. He knows it’s wrong but it’s pretty obvious that bad language fascinates him. Swearing is maybe the first way we realise words are magic to conjure with, power detached from dictionary definition.

Frank’s woodwork obsession comes from my eldest son. I’ve found him in the past in a puff of sawdust lathing dowelling or sawing through balsa on his bed. He was also involved in a school accident where a hook slashed into his side and almost pierced his lung. There was blood everywhere.


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