Prolific children's and YA author Tim Wynne-Jones has created a page-turner with Blink & Caution, the story of two teen runaways who are accidentally drawn into a mystery.
Wynne-Jones may have written a thriller, but he hasn't lost his sense of humor. In a Q&A with BookPage, the author reflects on his own experience as a runaway (from a rock band), his fondness for crossword puzzles and why he'd like to hang out with Hamlet.
Blink & Caution is about a couple of teen runaways. When you were growing up, were you ever tempted to run away from home?
I did run away from home when I was three with a tea cozy on my head, but that doesn't really count. As a teenager I was pretty lucky; my parents ran away instead, which saved me from having to do it. They moved and I stayed where I was, so it was kind of like running away in reverse. But the thing is, I did run away more than once even after I no longer lived at home. I ran away from a rock band in which I was the lead singer. We were on the road and things had gotten really crazy, so I just took off and left them in the lurch. I'm not proud of it but it was a life-saving thing to do, as far as I could tell at the time. Sometimes running away is the answer as long as you know that at some point, one way or another, you're going to have to run to . . .
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Probably Hamlet. I'd make him do all the work. It would be good therapy for him—no time to stand around soliloquizing. Is that even a word? Anyway, Hamlet. I just hope the island would be somewhere tropical and not in the North Sea. Who wants to hang with a melancholy Dane when it's cold and rainy all the time?
Of all the characters you've ever written, which is your favorite?
A difficult question; sort of like asking a parent who their favorite kid is. But I guess I'd have to say Rex Zero, the star of the three Rex Zero novels. He's sort of me but way braver and he gets into better messes than I did at his age.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
Hmmm. Can I have three? 1. Reading with J.K. Rowling at the Toronto Sky Dome. 2. Having Philip Pullman blurb my last book, The Uninvited, and say it was "Impossible to put down." and 3. Winning the Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America for my YA novel Boy in the Burning House. I've been lucky enough to win quite a few awards but that one is great because it was something I dreamed of when I first started writing.
What's the best thing about writing for young people?
Young people. That's the best thing. I mean, I don't wish I was young again—it's way too hard! But I look at young people and I love to see all the stuff they're dealing with, bad and good, and I remember how incredibly ALIVE you feel when you're trying stuff out and figuring who the heck you are. And I guess, also, I've got some issues with sixteen. Like I said, I wouldn't want to do it over again but I'm going to keep kicking at the particular can trying to open it up and dig through the garbage.
If you weren't a writer, how would you earn a living?
Singing or cooking or doing crossword puzzles. I'm not sure you can earn a living doing crossword puzzles but I'd give it a shot.
What are you working on now?
The fourth and final Rex Zero book. But also I'm toying with an idea for a graphic novel.