What does winning the Carnegie mean to you?
It’s without doubt the best thing that’s ever happened to me as a writer – a huge honour and a privilege, a dream come true, and something I’ve been hoping to achieve for a very long time.
Why do you think the Carnegie is an important award?
So many reasons – its history and tradition, the great writers who’ve won it before, its prestige and respect. It’s the award that every children’s writer wants to win, and it also does a fantastic job of raising the profile of children’s literature. One of the best things about it, for me, is the shadowing programme, which has got better and better every year, and now involves hundreds of reading groups and literally thousands of young readers whose enthusiasm and insight is truly inspiring.
The Bunker Diary is pretty brutal, why do you think there's a place for books without hope or answers – for all readers, not just teenagers?
Books are about life, and life is about all kinds of different stuff, some of which is pretty brutal and seemingly without hope and answers.
Do you think the YA market is becoming more open to more variety? Not necessarily just darker books but more challenging/unexpected/experimental books?
Absolutely, and I think the world’s a better place for it. The more options there are, the better chance there is of young people finding something they like to read, something they can relate to. We need to keep reaching out to people who think they don’t like reading, because quite often it’s the case that they just haven’t found the right book yet.
In your mind is there a story behind the man who masterminds the bunker and is there a reason why it all happens in you, even if you can't reveal it, or was that beside the point as much for you as the writer as it is for the reader?
No. I always make sure that if I’m writing about a character or a situation that isn’t fully explained to the reader, then I don’t allow myself to know anything about them either. That way, there can’t be any sense at all that the author is hiding something – you know as much I do!
If readers enjoyed The Bunker Diary what would you suggest they read next?
It depends if they want to read something similar or not – they might have had enough of darkness and captivity for a while! The kinds of books I had in mind when I was writing The Bunker Diary – ie, the types of stories that I’ve always loved and which inspired me to write the book – include: Lord of the Flies by William Golding; The Collector by John Fowles; Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe; My Side of the Mountain by Jean George. They’re all brilliant books, and I’d recommend them to anyone.
What does winning the Greenaway mean to you?
Growing up in Canada we were familiar with a lot of the books that make up the amazing tradition the UK has of children's literature, to have made something that has been welcomed into the culture this way is extremely humbling and very meaningful.
Why do you think the Greenaway is an important award?
It's great to have an award that distinguishes between the writing and the illustration. While of course you wouldn't have the story without the writing, there are many different ways you can decide to illustrate it. Children involved in the shadowing process get a chance to consider these decisions on their own which they might not have done otherwise.
To you what makes a satisfying story?
I don't know if there are any hard and fast rules that you can apply, but I like it best when the different elements that make up a story seem to point to one unavoidable conclusion.
When you're creating the illustrations and the words, which comes first?
The words, but they are written with the illustrations in mind. It's important that the illustrations have their own information to convey.
Had you always intended to write This Is Not My Hat as well as I Want My Hat Back?
No. There were a number of stories before This Is Not My Hat was written, but when this story showed up I liked the idea that the plot of this book is very much the same as I Want My Hat Back, but with almost everything inverted.
If readers enjoyed This is Not My Hat what would you suggest they read next?
The Telltale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.
The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks (£7.99) is out now from Penguin, This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (£11.99) is out now from Walker Books.