Interview with Jack Meggitt-Phillips

When The Beast and the Bethany was first published, I was so excited to interview author Jack Meggitt-Phillips for Armadillo Magazine. His witty and humorous answers were perfect! With Revenge of the Beast recently published, Jack and I agreed it would be great to share more questions!

Over lockdown, a group of Year 5 girls read The Beast and the Bethany and they loved it. They are all mystery, goth and adventure seekers in their reading. The spookier, darker and more dangerous the better. I wanted them to play a part in the interview with Jack and so they asked the questions! Jack was very open to this and was his usual witty and charming self! He has coined it the “Terribly Fun Interview” and I love it!

Why was Ebeneezer so stuck up? Was he based on someone you know?

I’m rather ashamed to say that Ebenezer Tweezer is basically a version of myself with much better hair, but much (hopefully) worse morals. I haven’t yet considered feeding a child to an attic-dwelling beast, but I share his love of peculiar teas, wonderful waistocoats, and perfectly bubbled baths that go on for at least a couple of hours.

In terms of why he’s so stuck up – I think that’s as a result of having lived a pretty selfish existence for 500 years. Before Bethany, he never really had anyone in his life, and so he’s never seen the point in being nice or even caring about others. It’s hardly surprising that he’s not very good with people.

Why write the beast to be so ugly?

I thought it would be fun to write about a character who has a wonderful life that’s made possible by something terrible.

On the whole, Ebenezer’s life is one of extreme beauty and luxury; he lives in a fifteen-storey house with an entire library of comic books and movies, his clothes are made from the very finest pixie-breath silk, and he owns tea pots which never let the hot water turn cold.

And yet, none of this would exist without the dribbling, stinking, petrifying, murderous beast. It’s an empty sort of existence, and the sad thing is that there are plenty of people out there who live seemingly marvellous lives that are funded by doing something rather monstruous.

Why is the beast allergic to trumpets?

Why am I allergic to cauliflower? If you find out the answer to either question, please let me know.

Is there going to be a third book?

Absofrickinglutely. I’ve just finished the first draft of it, actually. I’m now spending most of my days sobbing and wailing about the latest spot of villainy that the beast has planned.

Can you add us into your next book?- Our names are Lola C, Lola H, Eliza, Lorena, Taliah, Elsie and Mim.

I’ll write a story for you right now, how about that? Let’s call it The Beast and the Snooping Seven.

Once upon a time, there were seven extremely nosy children named Lola C, Lola H, Eliza, Lorena, Taliah, Elsie and Mim. They would spend their days sticking their nosy noses into all sorts of people’s business; they would ask their neighbours about their moustaches, they would interrogate their teachers about what they got up to after school, and sometimes the little monsters would even ask poor children’s authors about trumpets, book-writing, and the ugliness of mythical creatures,

One day, the children’s nosiness led them to a fifteen-storey house. And, so curious were they about the house that they let themselves in without so much as glancing at the doorbell. They poked their noses into every room of the house, until they found themselves in front of an old, rickety door at the top of the stairs.

They stepped inside and came face to face with . . . a snoring beast. They should have run away immediately, but they were just too nosy to leave. They came closer and closer to the beast, until the creature’s three eyes flickered open with excitement.

The beast had recently eaten a great white shark, so it was a little full, but it still had time to eat each of the seven girls’ noses. They weren’t so nosy after that, let me tell you.

Which book is your favourite, book 1 or book 2?

That’s like choosing a favourite child! Fortunately, I happen to love choosing favourites. There are better jokes and more horrifying bits in The Beast and the Bethany: Revenge of the Beast, so that’s my current favourite.

How long did it take to write The Beast and the Bethany?

The first draft took four months. I started it one Boxing Day and was terribly strict with myself, so I finished it by Easter. If any of you are writing stories at the moment, my advice would be to try and write it all down as quickly as possible – and then you can worry about making it good afterwards.

Why did Bethany have to be a horrible girl in the story?

How dare you. If Bethany hunts you down and catapults a rotten tomato in your face, then you’ve only got yourselves to blame.

There are two reasons really; from Ebenezer’s perspective, it made sense to me that if you were tasked with feeding the beast a child, then you would probably go out of your way to find someone who deserved to be eaten. And from my perspective, as cackling evil author, I think books are always more interesting if you’re not sure whose side you’re on. In The Beast and the Bethany, I hope that readers aren’t quite sure who they think is the worst out of Ebenezer, Bethany, and the beast.

Have you written any other books or are you planning to write something different?

I’ve written LOADS of books. Many of them total pants, some of them slightly pants, and others which only have a faint whiff of pants to them. If you want to be a writer, I think you have to write quite a lot of rubbish in order to become better, and to find the sorts of stories that only you can tell.  

In terms of books that are allowed out into the world, I’m working on a brand-new spooky mystery book for children. So, depending on how pants that turns out, you may be able to read it one day soon.

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