Rising star: Andy Stanton, Children's writer

Andy Stanton, Children's writer

Andy Stanton is on a mission to introduce new vocabulary into children's literature. 'Tungler is brilliant: it's a wild card of a word - you can use it to describe anyone or anything, from a cute child to a slice of pizza.'

His Mr Gum books, which have won a Blue Peter award and the Red House Children's book of the year prize, are an inventive cross between Roald Dahl and Vic Reeves Big Night Out - unruly tales of 'grimster' villains outwitted by a gingerbread man with electric muscles.

English was his favourite subject at school. 'I just used to like writing stupid stories - whatever the topic was, I would immediately twist it.'

Thrown out of Oxford, he spent 12 years living the life of 'a lazer' in 'really bad' jobs while dreaming about doing something else. Tired of not finishing anything, he sat down and wrote the first Mr Gum book one frantic Christmas Eve, staying up until 7am to get the story finished. 'I didn't have any money so I wrote You're A Bad Man, Mr Gum! as a gift for my cousins, to make them laugh.'

Now he's working on his fifth Mr Gum book, a TV animation series based on the stories is in development with Nickelodeon, and he's one of the best performers on the children's literary circuit. 'If a kid has an interesting haircut I might whip out my harmonica and do a song about them.'

· Andy Stanton is at the Oxford Literary Festival on 5 April. Mr Gum and the Power Crystals (£4.99, Egmont) is out now

Elthne Farry

The GuardianTramp

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