Author Gives a Lesson in How to Bring History's Ancient Horrors to Hilarious Life; Horrible Histories Are among the Most Successful Children's Books Ever Published but Author Terry Deary Is Handing over the Baton. He Chats to Karen Price about Running and Writing

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), November 14, 2011 | Go to article overview

Author Gives a Lesson in How to Bring History's Ancient Horrors to Hilarious Life; Horrible Histories Are among the Most Successful Children's Books Ever Published but Author Terry Deary Is Handing over the Baton. He Chats to Karen Price about Running and Writing


Byline: Karen Price

TERRY Deary has just got back from a run when I call him.

He may be 65 this year, but he shows no signs of slowing down.

In fact, at the time of our chat, he's in training for an epic challenge to run the length of Hadrian's Wall over the course of six days.

He was being spurred on by the thought of raising as much cash as possible for the charity Integrating Children, which encourages disabled children to take part in social activities.

"I do a faster run in the morning to get my blood circulating and then a long run in the evening," he says, putting me to shame.

So does he enjoy running? "No!" is his emphatic reply.

The best-selling children's author says that it was a visit to a chemist's shop in Cardiff 11 years ago that set him on the path to running. He was in the city as one of his stories had been adapted for theatre and was being staged there.

"There was a weighing machine inside the doorway of the shop, so I stepped on and I was 15 stone when I should have been 12 stone, so I started running again," he says.

Deary, who's also enjoyed a career as an actor, is clearly very focused on whatever he puts his mind to. The fact that he's published more than 200 books - with around 60 of them part of the successful Horrible Histories series (including one on the Welsh) - is testament to that.

His first tale in the series, Terrible Tudors, was published in 1972 and these days his colourful characters have been successfully adapted for television and the stage.

The very first Horrible Histories stage adaptation took place at Cardiff's Sherman Theatre in 1999 - under the banner Mad Millennium - to coincide with an exhibition at National Museum Cardiff.

Next week, two of his tales - Ruthless Romans and Awful Egyptians - will be performed in the city once more by the Birmingham Stage Company, who are renowned for their stage versions of children's classics including The Jungle Book, Tom's Midnight Garden, Kensuke's Kingdom and many Roald Dahl stories.

His stories bring historical figures to life for both children and adults. But Deary says they are not history books.

"I don't love history, I'm a children's author," he says. "They are books about people, books about human nature in all its wonderful facets. …

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