Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Awesome Andy Briggs

Andy Briggs uses the word "awesome" a lot. This is very appropriate. Andy hangs out a lot in Hollywood. He sometimes overtakes Beyoncé and walks past Steven Spielberg and on his way to work. He writes books, but he also writes for TV, films and scripts comic books. Stan Lee once phoned him up and offered him a job.
Andy Briggs IS awesome, and any one of the 300 hundred or so children at Larkmead and John Mason schools who spent an hour in his company yesterday during a series of incredible events would definitely agree. As one boy said on his way out at John Mason: "you sir are the most awesome author I have ever heard". 'Nuff said.

Andy was in town ostensibly to talk about his latest book "Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy". I was already bowled over by this book - but Andy's talk was so much more than what Tarzan is about and how it came to be written.
Andy talks with more passion that I have ever heared about writing. He asks the kids "who here likes films?", "who here watches movies?", "who listens to songs?". All written by people like him: writers. And why stop there: let's include soap operas, sports commentary, video games and the sides of cereal boxes. Advertising, most of the Internet...and, yes, books. No writers = nothing to read, watch or be entertained by.

And then he makes the link between where his audience is now, and where he was at their age: broke, bored, but with an idea in his head which eventually spilled out as writing. It was compelling stuff. Even I wanted to get out a pen and start writing...

Then we were onto Tarzan. Andy approached the estate of Edgar Rice Burroughs with an idea to change Tarzan and bring him up-to-date. One trip to Burrough's preserved house (Tarzana, near Los Angeles) later, and Andy was the first person in 100 years to be given permission to change the origins of Tarzan.

As well as a précis of the story, he talked about preserving endangered species (via his work with EAZA's Great Ape campaign), gave a fantastic geography lesson on the sheer size of Africa (see how China and the US fit neatly in there, and look out for GB overlaying Madagascar)...
...before finishing up with an awesome jungle quiz to see how many people would survive - or more likely perish horribly - if forced to survive in the rainforest.
All that in under an hour, three times in a row, and signing books after as well. As I say...awesome.

(The only thing not quite so awesome was my lamentably bad photography, but hopefully you get the general idea).

Signed copies of Tarzan are now in Mostly Books, and I urge you to take a look. Written in a tradition of Rice Burroughs, Willard Price, Spiderman...and with a sprinkle of Hollywood glamour thrown in there as well, this is unashamed rip-roaring entertainment, and one written in the service of making a real difference to endangered species. As Andy says, soberingly, "there are 900 children in this school, but there are only 650 mountain gorillas left anywhere in the world. This is their last chance".

1 comment:

  1. Willard Price - I remember loving all his books. Being a bit of a tomboy, I devoured them as a kid, (The Swiss Chalet School was not for me). The new Tarzan sounds wonderful - I hope it does well.

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