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Last Updated: Friday August 07 2009 07:54 GMT

Hotseat: Terry Deary

Ore meets Terry Deary

Terry Deary is one of the UK's best-selling children's authors, having written about 200 books in the UK. He's best known for his Horrible Histories series, which has now been turned into a TV series.

His books are sold in 40 languages from Russia to Brazil, Scandinavia to China.

Now the stories are being turned into a computer game - called the Horrible Histories: Ruthless Romans. You take on the role of a young Gladiator making his way to the Coliseum.

Ore caught up with him to ask him all the things you guys wanted to know about him, his TV show and his books...

How did you first make yourself known as a writer and what age were you? - Hannah, 13 from Surrey

I was a professional actor and I was in a touring theatre company and there were no plays written for us really. So we had to make up our own, and after a while we realized that I had a knack of writing these plays.

So the actors went away on holiday and said: "When we get back Terry can you have written us a play?".

So this particular play was for children and after six weeks of touring the play about The Custard Kid was a great success and the play came to an end and we packed the costumes away. And the Custard Kid died.

How can I make him live on, my character? Turn him into a book. And so I wrote my first children's book. And I was sort of stuck with it from then on. Being a children's author.

What gave you the ideas for your books? - Daniel 13 Carrick Fergus

A publisher came to me and asked if I would write a joke book. A history joke book, you know the sort of thing.

William The Conqueror conquered France, conquered England and Italy and then he stopped. Why? Because he ran out of conquers!!

And then they said "Can you put in some interesting facts? For example, at the battle of Hastings, how did King Harold die? With an arrow in the eye." I later found out that is not true. But at the time it seemed like a good interesting fact.

I found the facts were more interesting than the jokes. So instead of a joke book with facts, it ended up as a fact book with some jokes in it. Horrible Histories were born.

How do you come up with the hilarious and sometimes terrible jokes? - Licien 11, Oxford

Well, sometimes the jokes just pop into your head. As you are writing, you tell a story and you think that is something funny I can say.

But sometimes the cartoonist Martin Brown comes up with jokes as well - "Martin there is a blank on the page, put a joke in here..."

So that explains it. The brilliant jokes are mine. The terrible jokes are Martin Brown's.

Did you always love history when you were young? - Mohinder, 11 from London

I hated history. History was the most boring subject in the universe, because the teacher had some notes and he had learned these at college 30 years ago. And he read them to us and we copied them down word for word. It was about as exciting as a hibernating tortoise.

And then he would say: "Next week we are going to test you on them. So we had to take them home and learn them. Terrible.

There were no stories or exciting adventures. Or bits about what it was really like to live in the past.

So when I wrote Horrible Histories they were anti-school. They were the things they don't tell you in school or the things that my teacher didn't tell me.

Sometimes children read my books and they get all excited about history and they go to school saying history is their favourite subject. Don't blame me!!!

What sources do use to find all the facts for your book. - Ashling, 11 Northern Ireland

All the time there are history books being written and these books are full of long explanations about what happened in history, but in the middle of them there are some gems about what happened to real people.

The job is to take a big bowl of bran and we reach in and pick out the good bits and then we throw the bran away.

So all the facts are out there, our skill is to select the ones that we think our readers will be interested in.

How do you know that all the facts in your books and TV programmes are true? - Nathanial, 11 London

I don't. I have to trust my researchers. And sometimes I will write something one week and then discover that someone has said something different the next week.

What is your favourite Horrible Histories book? - Jessica, 11 Kings Lynn

If you get a mother who has 50 children and ask them which is their favourite child what would she say? She would say I wouldn't dare tell you because the other 49 will hate me.

I like writing fiction, and I write more fiction. and now Horrible Histories have come out in fiction.

There are eight Horrible Histories fiction titles called Gory Stories, and so they are my favourites at the moment.

Why did you decide to turn your books in to games? - James, 12 Surrey

I've got lots of stories I want to tell but not everybody reads books, so I decided to tell my stories in lots of different ways.

I put them on CDs and have them acted out. I put them on stage. There are theatre tours going round Britain now with my stories in them. I put them on television, there is a Horrible Histories television show right now.

Not everyone goes to the theatre, for example, so I had to find another way and another way to tell my stories is through computer games, because lots of young people play computer games.

I am not a great one for computer games myself because I don't have a lot of time to play them, but when the developers brought me in and showed me the game and made me play it, it's hard work.

I had this little device in my hand and I had to pretend to throw a spear at a screen and I was being beaten by someone on my right. Very frustrating.

There are about 30 mini-games within the big game.

Will there be another Horrible Histories book? And what will it be about? - Joe 10, London

I could tell you, but if I did I would have to kill you. We have a new idea for Horrible Histories and I put this up on my website and the publishers said: "You can't do that, the book is not published yet and other publishers will copy us".

So we have a new idea for Horrible Histories books, but I can't tell you about them or I would have to kill you. It will be out early 2010.

What are your tips for someone who wants to become an author? - Chris, 12 Glasgow

Well the most important person is always you, the reader. When I am writing I always have you, the reader, out there in front of me.

I am thinking, are you going to be interested in this, will this make you laugh? Did you know this amazing fact we have found?

The most important thing to remember is don't write for yourself, write for the reader out there. And if you can do that well, then you can become a writer.