BOYS will be boys, as Charlie Higson, author of the bestselling Young Bond novels knows only too well. Ahead of his appearance next Friday at this year’s Holloway Arts Festival, the talented Tufnell Park resident reveals that the secret to his phenomenal success, which to date has seen more than 1.5 million books fly off the shelves, boils down to one simple fact: he has an “uncanny understanding” of his young audience.

Charlie, who is also an actor, producer, director and co-creator of the hugely popular BBC comedy series, The Fast Show, tells me: “I have three boys, aged ten, 14 and 16, and I grew up with three brothers, so I think it’s fair to say that I understand boys very well!

“I know what they like, how they think and what they get up to, so I’ve been able to use all of that for the Young Bond books. I think for a long time there weren’t too many “boysy” books around and what I’ve done is tap into those good old-fashioned adventure stories that used to be so popular.

“I think they also appeal because they are ‘proper’ books for boys. I didn’t want them to be trashy throwaways – I wanted them to have depth. In the past, I have written thrillers for adults and I didn’t want to change my style just because I was writing for children.

“Some people say they are quite gory and in your face, but neither are they childlike and boys really like the feeling they are reading something grown up and what they would see as ‘cool’.”

The 51-year-old’s formula to encourage more boys to read seems to have worked a treat. Since being approached by the Ian Fleming estate in 2004 to create a series of James Bond novels for younger readers, Charlie has penned no less than five bestsellers – SilverFin, Blood Fever, Double Or Die, Hurricane Gold and By Royal Command. Now he’s busy working on a new series of horror adventures for children, the first of which, The Enemy, will be published in September.

Charlie explains wryly: “It’s about a mystery illness that wipes out the entire population aged over 14. So there are all these kids having the run of London, with their first stop being at Waitrose in Holloway Road! But as it turns out, there are actually adults out there who have turned into hideously diseased zombies.”

The multi-talented writer is also currently working on a new television show with long-standing friend and actor Paul Whitehouse, who he first met while they were studying at the University of East Anglia. Due for broadcast later this year, Bellamy’s People is a spoof documentary and spin-off from Down The Line, which the pair originally created for BBC Radio 4.

Charlie Higson arrives at North Library, Manor Gardens on Friday, June 26, 4.15pm.

Tickets: Free. Details:


Thursday, June 25: Writing workshop for adults with playwright Diane Samuels at North Library
Friday, June 26: Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread at Archway Methodist Hall
Saturday, June 27: Opening of Urban Shots Photography Exhibition at Islington Arts Factory
Sunday, June 28: Singers Sheila Chandra and Nóirín Ní Riain perform at Union Chapel
Monday, June 29: Simon Munnery and Paul Lyalls’ First Stand Up Show for Kids at North Library
Saturday, July 4: Carnival procession at Whittington Park
Sunday, July 5: Poet and performer John Hegley at North Library