Robert Muchamore’s new action-packed series rewrites a favourite story. He answered our questions about Robin Hood.
Can you sum up Robin Hood for us?
There have been hundreds of versions of Robin Hood, from ancient poems to virtual reality. Mine is a contemporary story. Robin is a kid in year seven, who escapes into Sherwood Forest when his dad is framed for robbery by corrupt cops.
What made you want to write a new take on the story of Robin Hood?
I wanted to try something a little shorter and lighter than my previous stuff. Librarians and booksellers keep telling me that kids aren’t moving on from illustrated Wimpy Kid type books, so I wanted this to feel like a natural next step.
Robin Hood seemed a good fit for this type of story and it was a great challenge, reinventing a legend to appeal to my audience of reluctant teen/tween readers.
The story is action-packed of course, but there’s a strong sense of social injustice and political corruption too – was that important to you?
If you’re not engaged in characters and their motives, action quickly becomes tedious.
Fan feedback from my earliest books taught me that kids were most interested in character development and the issues that underlie the story.
There’s great archery action – is this something you researched?
I did a lot of research, but archery for hunting and combat is actually quite gruesome! The tricky part was making the archery feel real, without turning my twelve-year-old hero into a cold-blooded killer.
What’s your favourite scene in the book and why?
This is a hard question because it’s a new project and I’ve not had time to reflect. There’s a twist where a major character finds out they’re not who they thought they are. I’m think it came out good and I’m hoping everyone who is engaged with the story will be properly shocked!
What were you like at school? Is there anything of you in Robin? Or is he who you’d like to have been?
Most of my lead characters seem to end up being versions of myself. James the lead in my CHERUB books is basically lazy slobbish me, only braver and much better looking!
My Robin Hood has picked up my dry sense of humour. Friends and family often tell me that when they read my characters, they hear them speaking in my voice!
Can you share any tips on the ways you make your books such page turners?
My rules are pretty simple. Short sentences, short paragraphs, short chapters! When I’m planning a book, my aim is to make every chapter worthy of being a standalone story. That’s not always possible, but if you’re looking at your plan for a book and saying, ‘This chapter is all exposition, this chapter is just a character getting ready for bed,’ you’ve got a problem to fix!
Will there be more adventures for Robin and Marion?
Yes. I’ve got a contract with Hot Key to write four Robin Hood books.
I’ve planned out a twelve-book story arc which takes Robin from age twelve until a dramatic conclusion when he’s almost sixteen. But books five to twelve depend on the success of the first four!
Robin Hood is published by Hot Key Books, £6.99 pbk.