Toffle Towers - Q&A with Tim Harris
Tim Harris is the bestselling author of several laugh-out-loud series for kids, including Toffle Towers, Mr Bambuckle's Remarkables and Exploding Endings.
His first ever book, Exploding Endings: Painted Dogs & Doom Cakes, was awarded Honour Book at the 2017 KOALAs. Tim's second series, Mr Bambuckle's Remarkables, contains his trademark quirkiness, mixed with a touch of poignancy. The lead book was awarded a CBCA Notable in 2018, and the series was shortlisted for the REAL Awards in 2018 and 2019. His books have been published in Australia, the USA, Poland and Turkey.
A former primary school teacher of 15 years, and advocate for creativity and short stories, Tim's presentations and workshops are dynamic and entertaining. He is a sought-after presenter, having worked in hundreds of schools across Australia.
Tim lives in Sydney with his wife and three young children.
What is Toffle Towers about?
Toffle Towers is about a ten-year-old boy, Chegwin Toffle, who inherits a run-down hotel. The hotel only has enough savings to stay open three more months, so Chegwin must use his wild imagination to revamp the business and save the jobs of the loyal workers.
Is there a particular theme in your story?
Themes include problem solving, creativity and working together. These themes are worked not only through Chegwin, but also the workers at Toffle Towers.
Was there an inspiration for your story?
Toffle Towers was inspired by Fawlty Towers (the nod to the inspiration is in the title). After an initial rush of inspiration and planning, the hotel setting in Toffle Towers was the only aspect that stayed in step with Fawlty Towers. Everything else – the characters, plotlines, types of situations – all changed to fit the story I wanted to tell.
What is the story behind the story?
I was a stargazer at school, and even had 'DREAMER' stitched onto the back of my Year 12 senior school jersey. I've always wanted to write about a habitual dreamer, and Chegwin Toffle was the perfect candidate to take up the mantle – he just needed a story to tell. Despite his (mostly!) brilliant ideas, Chegwin is also a very kind-hearted boy, who cares deeply for others. It was important to give his character some depth and not just play off his dreamy tendencies.
What kind of research did you do to write this story?
I applied to stay in a hotel in the Blue Mountains in the capacity of a "full-time guest" for three days. Ideally, it would have made for some amazing research and hands-on experience. I didn't end up hearing back from the hotel and then hit a busy period of touring which coincided with drafting. I ended up doing a bit of Googling for anything important, but – like Chegwin – used my imagination to elaborate on ideas that didn't need to be based on fact.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to write for children?
If there is an idea that is constantly nagging you, then that's the idea worth focussing on. It is also worth considering the type/style of book you want to write and then read in that zone to become familiar with what others are doing. This can not only give you inspiration, but help you find your own writing voice. Getting along to book talks is another great idea as it's invaluable hearing an author to talk about their writing process. Podcasts are invaluable (we have so many good ones in Australia!) and reading interviews with authors can help give tips too.
To find our more about Tim, visit his website or social media sites.
Instagram - @timharrisbooks
Facebook – Tim Harris Children's Author