My dear bookish friends, dear beasts,
Welcome to a super special post and one I’ve been dreaming of doing ever since I did my first interview with author and beast-creator Jack Meggitt-Phillips! *insert squealing, pom-pom waving, and confetti throwing here*
If you didn’t know, the The Beast and the Bethany series is one of my all-time favourite middle grade series and one I just can’t get enough of! You can check out my review of book 1 here, my recent review of book 2 here, and here is my first interview with Jack! Thank you so much to Jack for agreeing to do another interview with me, and let me tell you, we are getting some VERY funny answers (as expected!), but also some very deep ones, and ALSO some inside scoop on what to expect next! So, let’s get straight into it!
In this book we learn a great deal about Ebeneezer’s past with the beast. Was Ebeneezer ever truly happy to have the beast as a companion?
Ebenezer was a lonely, friendless child, who didn’t even receive much attention from his mother. Before he met Bethany, he didn’t really know what it meant to be brought happiness by another person. He convinced himself he was happy with the beast – even though, deep down, this was probably never the case.
Were you more of a Nicholas Nickles or an Ebeneezer as a child, or maybe more like Bethany?
I wish I had been a Bethany, but unfortunately I was a complete and utter goody-two shoes as a child – the sort of insufferable twit who wouldn’t have even dreamed of saying ‘worms’, let alone go about shoving them up people’s nostrils. Out of the three of them, I was probably most like Ebenezer – although, I’m delighted to report that unlike Ebenezer’s mother, my own parents have always given the impression that they’re rather fond of me.
Now that Bethany is his friend, is Ebeneezer less scared of ageing?
Unfortunately not. He still spends hours upon hours gazing at himself in the Posing Gallery of the 15-storey house – worriedly checking for even the slightest sign of wrinkles. There are some things that people just can’t change about themselves.
With the beast gone, would Ebeneezer, Bethany, and Claudette have had the chance at a happily ever after? What would their plans have been?
Claudette might have taken The Patrick Show on tour, and Ebenezer and Bethany would have followed her around like groupies. The three of them would have used all the profits from the shows to help people who needed it from town to town. Frankly, the whole thing would have been sickeningly soppy to read – thank goodness the beast spoiled all their fun.
Their yard sale didn’t go quite according to plan. Did you ever buy anything that turned out different from what you were expecting?
I’m forever irritated that I can’t pull off hats. I won’t stop buying them, though, and I will never cease to be disappointed when I look in the mirror and find that I look ridiculous.
Why is the beast so fond of eating birds – or people?
The beast adores eating things that are rare, or, at least, rarely eaten. Its perfect menu would be a starter of rare parrot, a main course of snotty prankster, finished up with a pudding of Paddington.
Ebeneezer, Bethany, and Claudette are taking their breakfast very seriously. What do you like to have for breakfast?
Pain au chocolat, or cake, or some other unhealthy chocolatey thing that no grown man should really eat. I often make myself write a chapter before breakfast, so this probably explains why so many of The Beast and the Bethany’s characters are obsessed with mealtimes.
If you would live for as long as Ebeneezer, what would you do with all the time you had?
I don’t think it would be much fun living for that long. It would be like going to a cinema where the movie never ends.
For the first couple of centuries, I’d probably write and read ALL the books that have been on my shelf or in my mind. From about 302 onwards, I’d probably get bored and take up some bizarre and utterly useless hobbies like badger taming or competitive broccoli eating.
If you had a fifteen-storey house like Ebeneezer and endless money, what would your house look like (inside and outside!)?
My favourite parts of the books are those set in the fifteen-storey house, and I think Isabelle has brought it to life so wonderfully with her illustrations. If I could live inside Ebenezer’s house, I’d jump at the chance – even if I have to take the beast with it as well.
What would you do with a pet-parrot (or would you prefer a different kind of bird)?
I’d train it to give me compliments and poop on my enemies. I might also see if we can learn the lyrics to ‘Islands in the Stream’ together.
This second part of your series is surprisingly dark! Did you know you would go this way before you started writing the first book?
As soon as I finished the first book, I knew that there was no way that Bethany and Ebenezer would be able to get rid of the beast that easily. And, I had a nasty suspicion of the terrible things that might happen to Claudette pretty early on. In order to balance the tone a bit, my editors and I also tried to come up with as many silly jokes as possible, so hopefully it doesn’t read too much like Tarantino for children.
How was it possible for the beast to have such powers over all the objects – even when he was gone?
In my mind, the beast was never really gone. It just took a while for it to regain its full strength.
Do you like Do-Gooding activities like Bethany and Ebeneezer? If you had to suggest such activities to other people, what would you suggest they should do?
A bit like Ebenezer and Bethany – I sort of have to drag myself into doing do-gooding of any sort. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, so I suppose if you want to become a do-gooder, the best place to start might be to make sure you’re carving aside time each day or week to do something that’s not for yourself.
There is a lot of singing and acting in this book. Do you like to sing a lot, and if so, which songs?
My parents have a theatre school – Meggitt Dancers (it’s far more charming than the one run by the Cussocks in Revenge of the Beast.) My voice is distinctly unmelodic, but that doesn’t stop me from performing a small concert of songs whenever I’m in the shower. My particular favourite ditty to sing at the moment is ‘The Smell of Rebellion’ from Mathilda, the musical.
If you hadn’t become an author, what other career path would have spoken to you?
Being a writer is all I’ve wanted to be for so long, it’s hard to imagine anything else. Maybe acting? It would have to be something involving storytelling in some form. I’m far too impractical a human being to do anything sensible.
Is there ever a day you aren’t thinking of Bethany, Ebeneezer, or the beast?
Hahaha (those are hysterical ‘ha’s’ by the way). Bethany, Ebenezer, and the beast have essentially built an apartment in my mind, and I’m not quite sure how to evict them. When I write the final book in this series, I genuinely think I will be bereft.
Can you tell us about Ebeneezer and Bethany’s adventures to come? When will we get to read about them?
The Beast and the Bethany 3 is out later this year. There’s a tease about where the series is heading at the end of book 2, but, I don’t think it’s too much of a giveaway to say that we’re going to see the beast like we’ve never seen it before. And, for the first time, it might not be a complete and utter villain.
Are you planning other stories apart from this one, or will we stay in the The Beast and the Bethany world for ever (I certainly wouldn’t complain!)?
Don’t tell the beast, because it will throw a strop, but yes I’m working on something new which I’m quite excited about. It’s another middle-grade idea, and it’s got a truly terrifying villain.
Would you like to tell us a secret?
No, stop trying to wheedle secrets out of me, Noly. I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again – BOG. OFF.