Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Frank Cottrell Boyce, father of seven, is an established British screenwriter whose film credits include WELCOME TO SARAJEVO, HILARY AND JACKIE and 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. He lives in Merseyside with his family. Frank's first book, Millions, won the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2004 and was shortlisted for a number of awards including the Guardian Children's Fiction Award 2004. Millions was also made into a movie directed by Danny Boyle and was chosen as a 'Liverpool Reads' book in September 2005. His next book, Framed, was published in September 2005 and Cosmic in June 2007.

When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
I can remember quite clearly the day I decided that I wanted to be a writer. I was in year six and we'd been given a piece of class work to do about Vikings. It was a lovely fresh Febuary day and for some reason I decided that I'd make a bit of an effort with this piece of work. I put some jokes in and some nice adjectives and I illuminated the first letter making it look like the figurehead of a longboat. My teacher was a nice old nun called Sister Paul. She collected the work and the moment she picked it up I could tell she knew something was going on. After break she read it out to the whole class. I wish I could remember the jokes now but they must have been good because everyone laughed all the way through and that was a wonderful feeling. I imagine it's the feeling you get when you win a race or something. If she'd asked me to read the piece out myself I probably would have wanted to become a stand-up comedian but there was something delicious about being able to sit back and watch her get the laughs. She was bright red by the end and her eyes were all twinkly. It was as though she'd briefly become one of the children, she was enjoying herself so much. I felt like a magician. And all I'd done was played about with the word order and thrown in a couple of unexpected metaphors. I've spent the rest of my life trying to regain the sudden magic of that morning.

Do you think Millions has its own patron saint?
The patron saint of Millions would have to be St Jude, patron of lost causes, because it took me so long to get it right. Anyone else would have given up.
Or it could be Joseph of Copertino - the one who could levitate - because I've been walking on air since it was published.

You're the father of a big family. Surely yours can't be a very QUIET house to write in! Are you at all like Anthony and Damian's father in MILLIONS? Are you good at Who Wants to Be a Millionnaire?
No, it's not a quiet house, I have to say. I hope I'm a better cook than Damian's dad. For instance, I CAN cook lasagne. I'm obsessed with trivia and LOVE quizzes. But I'm hopeless at Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? because the $8,000 question is always about golf or car racing.

Can you tell us anything about your next project, Framed? Is it also scheduled to become a movie?
Framed is based on a true story. In the second World War all the great paintings in the National gallery were hidden away in a small town in North Wales. I loved the idea that there were pictures worth millions and millions of pounds hidden in a hole in this very poor town. I didn't want to write about the second World War though so I've set the story in the present, or in the near future when the National Gallery is threatened by floods caused by global warming.

We have to ask, what would YOU do with GBP 229,370 (or, approximately $425,500) in cash and only 17 days to spend it?
Obviously I'd give it to the poor!
But I'd also quite like: a desktop candyfloss maker; a Planet Danger Mohican collapsible kayak; a yellow solar-powered IPod; a decent haircut; one of those kites that lifts you into the air; a Nimbus 2005 staircase rider; a digital underwater video camera; self-cleaning, self-sorting, self-finding socks; a donkey (also self-cleaning), a trip to space and some sweets.


Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson
It makes you feel like you've actually been to the Amazon.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Reading this book is like adding an extra piece of software to your brain. Honestly, if you read it you will be wiser and cleverer than you were before.

The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit
All her books are utterly brilliant but this is the funniest. Some of the language is quite hard now because she uses old-fashioned slang (e.g. 'chink', for money) but it's worth trying. It's like having your DNA rearranged into a big smile.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Why am I so obsessed with treasure? Oh, well. The first few chapters of this book, while poor Billy Bones is waiting for Long John Silver are really, really frightening.

Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
Funny, frightening, strange and bonkers. I always wanted to live in the Moomin house and now I probably do.

In his own words: 'Shortly after leaving university, I had a radio play broadcast and it led to a job at Thames Television (Education Department), where I met Michael Winterbottom who was an editor at the time. We planned to make movies. At the time everyone in England had given up on films. It was after the Goldcrest debacle so it was like saying you wanted to do door-to-door roof thatching or scrimshaw work - a lost art. I supported myself by writing for Coronation Street - wonderful fun and the nearest I've ever got to a proper job. Then we made Welcome to Sarajevo and we've made several films since. Other screenplays that I have written include: The Stranger (nominated for a BAFTA) Butterfly Kiss, Welcome to Sarajevo, Hilary and Jackie (also nominated for a BAFTA), Pandemonium, 24 Hour Party People, The Claim, Code 46 and Millions.

When I met my wife-to-be, she was planning on becoming a nun. Luckily I managed to persuade her to marry me instead. We now have 7 children, ranging from 20 to two years old and we live in Liverpool.

Everyone seems to have had a good English teacher at some point. Mine was Mr Biggs who moonlighted as a Punch and Judy man and managed to persuade me to be his assistant. Throughout my sixth form I spent weekends doing children's parties and parish fetes with him and his dog (the dog used to pass the hat around). After school I took a year off and did it myself. I earned a fortune entirely in small change. Maybe that's where I first got interested in the problems created by user-unfriendly cash!'


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